Drawing Class



Todays lesson:  Gesture drawing with contour and Value study using the negative space, sunflowers.

#1 Gesture drawing is a great way to learn how to find the most important information and get it down on the paper fast.  By doing many of these quick gesture studies you line work will improve and your judgement of what you decide to describe will improve as well as your use of space.  Don’t judge each one that you do… just do them fast, 2 minutes and let them be.  You will be surprised it will take many to get a good one but with time and doing them, they will happen.  Why Matisses probably did at least 30 plus before he got one of his line drawing to succeed.


#2 Sunflowers:  In using a photograph that is ill defined in subject but well defined in it’s use of negative space, this is a good lesson on getting shapes into the right location.  How do you achieve that?  THE GRID… or I’d like to say, location location location.  The reason why nature looks realistic on paper is not because of magic… it’s because of putting the shapes in the right place in relation to each other.  Using just the gray paper and charcoal map out your ideas and start to be more specific about the darks shapes against the light background.  Do not add details, they only get in the way.  If you get the shapes in the right place you will have your leaves and flower in perspective.  Then and only then add more values and then to finish, add white which really illuminates the subject matter.





Today’s class we had the challenge of doing a pure value drawing and learning the lights and darks to describe our space and placement on our picture plane.  The use of soft vine or willow charcoal lends our abilities to easily change our drawing.  While it is difficult to create a huge range of values, it is great for pushing the subject around on the paper til corrections are made.  If you want a better range of value and tone, use a high grade charcoal paper.  It erases better and the tones will look richer.

Notice on the first image how I simplified my subject matter by putting in only one value and the white of the paper, I made a map of where the least amount of information is located.  The more stuff you add to the drawing the harder it gets.  Simplify and don’t make it hard for yourself:  less is more. Then as I build into the drawing.. more complexities arrive which can make it fun.

Be sure to take breaks, get up and look away… look at drawing upside down…  so you can see what in your drawing is the furthest thing wrong. that is where you go to correct.  Be sure not to over think and come up with thinking solutions and not visual truthful solutions.








Today’s class we talked about underpainting as an option for starting into a painting.  In classical painting, the method provides just the needed values and tones and drawing corrections in one color before you start into full color.  Throughout history an underpainting can also be a variety of colors or one color as a tone on the entire canvas to play off the actual colors as one builds the painting.  In mine I used two colors a warm and a cool to play off of t0 push and pull the illusion of space.  Warm colors usually come forward while cool colors recede.  This is a general concept, not to be taken too literally… but it is another feature in color that helps one manipulate space.  Generally I would use Ultramarine Blue and Yellow Ochre and build a pallet from there. These are paints I’ve had readily available:  a warm and a cool.   I would paint mostly with “Gamsol”, a high quality odorless solent for my  oils.  I want lean and thin colors for my underpainting and

let it dry before I start to build my layers of color.  Acrylics I would just use my Matt Acrylic Medium.  This sets the stage for my values and gets the painting organized.

Drawing and Painting Class Three

In my on line drawing class this week we drew another still life in pencil.  We used the crosshatching technique and also did it in a fashion to imply contours around the form, particularly in the shadows.  This provides two or more useful concepts:  by contouring you are actually recreating the form into a readable 3D format and the other is you can learn how to get your objects to look 3D by doing this.  If you lines do not look right, try another direction til you find it.  Your values will come by virtue of building layers of pencil marks, no need to bear down.  You want multiple marks to create a gradation of value, in doing this marks will disappear and you will build darker areas.  Don’t forget measuring and the grid. This is your key to understanding scale and placement.  Good to work the pencil in a light way and use your hard pencils first and work you way up.

In my on line painting class this week, we continued our discussion and kept working on the same painting resolving issues.  Do remember, that before you even start to put out the paint on your pallet, you should have a good sense of the drawing and have an idea of what you are doing in all the designed spaces.  Not to say that I solve all the problems before I start painting but at least I get a good start and a concrete plan.  The issues with the image I picked seems to be the background.  This needs to come along with the painting and should not be an after thought.  The background should be painted with the objects in order to create good edges and volume on the objects.  I know the question is:  when am I finished?  and the answer would be…when the problems are resolved and there is balance in the painting.  Don’t keep adding things.  And make sure you spend as much time on the background as the objects… not with detail but with sensitivity and description.

Happy Painting




Painting Basics

The first class students were given an image to work from.  In this image one have a variety of issues to address including, value, design, relationship, form, color pattern, reflection and transparency.

In starting a painting, make sure you resolve the drawing issues in the drawing stage.  You have options:  do a drawing in a paper pad and get familiar with the subject,  draw directly on the canvas with charcoal and correct it til you have a good layout, sketch lightly with paint with one color directly on the canvas, do an underpainting of one color and white to set the stage and value.  Let the last one dry for a week if oils and then put color on top. BUT before you start a full pallet resolve you drawing issues.  Remember that the photo is a reference, not something to totally copy but you need to pay attention to the back ground as well as the subject.  You can simplify whatever you like.  And/or just take a small part of the painting and enlarge it and just paint that area.

Painting should not be about drawing, it should be about the application of color and value.  Also learning how to do brushwork is how you make a lively painting.

Next set up your pallet by putting down your basic colors in the same system every time.  Do not use different ways of arranging the paint, make it easier for yourself.  Titanium white, Cad. Yellow Medium, Cad. Red Medium and Ultramarine Blue.  If you have additional colors put them near their color family.

Before you paint, do some mixing of colors, so that you can see some of the relationships of colors and values on your pallet.  There is not such thing as too much paint!!!  You need to be able to choose and search and find your colors and values.  If you are afraid of wasting paint?  Buy less expensive paints.  Mix a range of rich, bright colors and values to use.

Then proceed to places pieces of color around the picture plane to help you see if your choices might work.  The mixing of paint does  not end at premixing. It happens throughout the painting. It is all about the search for the right color and value.  Everything gets painted in pieces.  Don’t paint the subject matter first.  It will look removed from the space.  Find big ideas and ignore the small issues.

Now begin, search and keep making changes til things start making visual sense.  No oil painting has to dry  in order to make changes…  use nice thick paint and if you need to change something, use the pallet knife and make space. And don’t be afraid to draw back into your painting to correct any issues you have… helps the process.

Happy Painting in both acrylic and oils.

Painting in the Round

I found working in a circle quite challenging and interesting.  I must make a point to look at Sargent’s rotunda murals both at the MFA and the Boston Public Library.  For some reason there is a sentimental aspect that comes through in a circle.  I will have to explore the reasons for this.

In dividing up the circular picture plane I choose to divide it in to quarters and think of it as three sections in relation to one.  I found that I wrestled with


the perspective a good bit.  And I need to process the building on the left a little more.  The debate I have with myself is to distort the image in the round, into a fish eye or organize it as if I am viewing it on a flat plane.

So much to learn from such a simple idea.  I first do thumb nails, sketches in the round, a value study, sketch on the canvas and then paint into it.  I will rethink some of the drawing and put this up on my next blog.  I would like to solve the problems.  Working in a target it is hard to get flow and movement in the painting.

Fruitlands Museum Spring Painting Class

Spring is such an amazing time of year to be outside painting, though a little unpredictable with the weather. The light is warm and the colors are starting to pop.

In my supply list, on this blog, there are items that an artist should consider for working outside. You should have equipment that are portable, which means you should figure out what you really need. All other stuff should be left in the studio. Useful to have is a well packaged painting kit, portable easel and light weight table, bungees to tie stuff down, (strong winds at Fruitlands), landscape umbrella, (not great to work in full sun) and supplies to help you feel physically comfortable enough. In my classes I will demonstrate my set up. Possible sites to look at for supplies:

Judson’s Art Outfitters https://www.judsonsart.com/ or Jerry’sartarama or DickBlicks

The other project to do before going outside to painting is to do some prep, either the week before or the night before. The week before, you can do the thumb nail drawings and designing. You might find it useful to do a drawing on your canvas before you come to class. Get the drawing correct before painting. It will save you time. I always set up my pallet the night before I go out. I put out my basic colors and I might do a little mixing for additional colors that I think I might use. In no way does this mean I don’t have to mix colors on location. It just means I am a little ahead of the game and get right to work.

The light is fleeting and there is only three hours to get it down. Which sounds like a lot of time but it is not.

On the first project be sure to get the perspective correct of your structure and connect it with its environment, the landscape. Don’t worry about the details of the structure, like the windows and doors, until you get this first step completed. And make sure you can identify where the light is coming from, this will make your life easier. Remember you don’t have to do an entire building… you can crop it to one side or another of the building in your landscape. In previous blogs I have a lot of thumb nails of landscape designs. At a later point I will put up some perspective clues, to help the process along.

The second project is to do a circular painting. Why? Great compositional challenge. It will help reinforce painting a rectangle. What I like about this project is it relates to the history of early American women painters. The women who painted the beautiful design on plates. More on this later.

Don’t worry about perfection. Enjoy the process. And remember there are no have to’s here, just suggestions for your learning experience.

Plein Air Drawing & Painting Workshop In Maine

Come and paint in Maine this summer 2018
Plein Air Drawing & Painting Workshop In Maine
for Oil or Acrylic Painters or Pastel

or other drawing media

Four full days of drawing & painting on Orr’s & Bailey Islands in Harpswell, Maine

Sunday, July 8 to Thursday, July 12, 2018

Notice new month, (last year it was offered in June)

Welcome Artists new and old to the seventh year of drawing/painting up in coastal Maine. Imagine painting on location with professional guidance, creating art each day on the coast where the light is clear and crisp and the views are filled with classic Maine rocks, ocean, and trees. The workshop will start with a demo to get students inspired. Students will have time to dive into their own work with my guidance. We will visit four locations which includes open ocean, beach area, docks and boats, and a rocky shore line. Students will learn how to simplify forms, develop overlapping areas of trees and rocks to create depth and color relationships in the water, sky, and land, and address

other compositional issues. Students will learn how to get going quickly with the set up and how to capture the scenery fast with big shapes, thus capturing a moment in time. Critiques, art discussions, and historical references are available. In bad weather, we will work inside or on the porch of “Crow’s Nest” lodging or at the Drift Wood Inn on Bailey Island. Each day, students will work hard, we will have a group critique, and then in the evenings we will relax and enjoy our stay

Location and Lodging

Margaret Arndt is sharing her rustic old family summer-house known as “Crow’s Nest” nestled on the top of a hill overlooking Harpswell Sound, a part of Casco Bay, on Orr’s Island in Maine. Crow’s Nest has seven bedrooms and two bathrooms that can accommodate 12/13 people. An open porch faces west providing a spectacular view of the sunset and oftentimes Mt. Washington in NH over 100 miles away. Breakfast and an a la carte take-out Lunch will be prepared each day. Two dinners will be included with an option to purchase a third home cooked meal can be ordered.


Please contact me for registration form and/or more information.