Wednesday, November 26, 2008


It is always nice when you do an interview and the newspaper prints 'anything' you say rather than not a word of what you said. 

It is even nicer when the piece is done by a terrific journalist, in this case Nicole D'Amore from The Ventura County Star, who not only got all the quotes right but obviously took the time to digest what one had said in a thoughtful way after a most enjoyable interview (she is an artist herself as well as a writer). There are very few times in life when you get to talk about yourself non-stop for two hours. It leaves you speechless afterwards...all talked out.

I really did enjoy reading about myself in Ms. D'Amore's piece. It explains how I ended up where I am so I now understand it even myself! 

Here is the link

Many thanks Ms. D"Amore! And also for her photos which I reprint here that accompanied the piece.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Having just returned from two workshop weekends back to back, one I helped host, the other I took part in, brush to canvas, I am reminded that these things sometimes don't bring out the best in any of us. Me included.

Nerves are high. Tempers flare.  Brushes are flung down along with the art gauntlet. Workshop monitors are screamed at. And even the Master him/herself gets bickered at/challenged occasionally. Lordy Begordy.

So, I was amusing myself today driving on the 101 freeway coming up with a Top 10 (o.k. 12!) list of do's and don'ts at painting workshops based on a few years of me doing them making a lot of the mistakes myself.

1. Don't scream at the workshop monitor at any cost. He/she is not a hired hand. He/she is either really good friends with the workshop teacher, connected somehow to what is going on,  or dating/married/ having an affair with the teacher or a friend of theirs. Word gets back and pillow talk is cheap. 

2. Do take your assigned morning  "placement" painting spot with good grace, no matter what. I have had my fair share of duff calls, my last name beginning with "S", the low end of the spot call-outs. This is just the way the cookie crumbles at these things. A good painter will rise to the challenge or just watch the master teach until the spots are changed to a better one. 

3. Don't move your easel out of it's pre-arranged semi-circle to within 6 inches of the model stand.  They are set up like this for a reason. It's called planning to avoid spats.

4. Don't correct the model's placement or fabric slippage between the breaks. This is what the gracious monitor is there for. This will annoy other people who like the fact the model's head has moved 1o inches south since the sitting first began. I have made this mistake so many times.

5. Don't think people can't hear your headphone music even if you have those posh BOSE ones. 'Nine Inch Nails' is not conducive to being in the Painting Zone for some and Beethoven likewise for others,  even if you think it is. Humming along to ABBA I have done. I admit it. Sorry. But not that sorry.

6. Do accept space is tight. Don't do onions/garlic/borsch soup/wine for lunch. If you stab someone in the back with you palette edge, apologize profusely. Who me? Handle hot drinks carefully. Very.

7.  Don't comment on another workshop artist's work, EVER,  unless he/she asks for it. I have seen this happen. An artist didn't want to paint in one workshop, just wanted to watch, and then suddenly, she was critiquing everyone in the room when the master was out. That is not a good way to make workshop friends. 

8. Don't complain about the instructor EVER. Before, during or after the workshop at the bar. You signed up because he/she had something you were looking for.  If the workshop isn't going to your liking, look within yourself. Work out how you can make the workshop work better for you rather than idle, easy shot,  criticism of the master, how much she/he has ignored you; how he/she is not taking you to the next level. It is all within all of us individually. And it is a privilege to be at any workshop. Remember those rice fields we could be working in? 

9. Do leave your ego at the door. Let go of getting something perfect done. HOW HARD IS THIS???? STOP what you are doing when the master artist comes within a six-easel range of your work. I am stunned at how people carry on painting their own studies when the master is correcting another artist's work near them. We are all making the same mistakes...just at different levels of our journey. Learn from your peers, especially the ones in the workshop room you know are good. I RUN to those critiques.

10. Don't hold up a tube of "FLESH" colored paint and ask the master portraitist how he/she would mix this. That's just plain daft. Ask intelligent questions.  Rehearse.

11. Do bond with you workshop buddies. I have made dear life-long friends through my workshop experiences. Those buddies are a great haven, and give safe feedback, and a friendly hug, when the workshop gets tough and your are teary-eyed, devastated to your core, think you suck, never want to paint again. Boy have I been there. And nothing like a nice glass of wine/soda/appetizer with said trusted buddies afterward shooting the art breeze. THE ABSOLUTE BEST IN THE WORLD.

12. Do wear light comfortable clothing but especially if you are female and over the age of 45. Hot armpit sweats are unattractive in workshops. This I know to be true. As for controlling PMS rages around workshops.... I am going to write a book on that. Still researching, if you know what I mean?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Master artist Morgan Weistling Hosts The Portrait Society of America's CA  Teaching Academy in Los Angeles, November 2008, Glendale.

Images copyrighted.

Morgan Weistling has long been on my "I wish I could paint like that" list. I remember the first time I saw one of his paintings of a blond child dressed in yellow holding roses. My mouth dropped to the floor and remained bruised for quite a while. I consider him one of the masters in my painting orchestra. I am the conductor but when my art baton is shaky (quite often) I pull out these greats to help me solve problems, create harmony in my work,  and I learn from them. 

I was lucky enough to do a rare workshop with Morgan a few years  ago. I left it, yes bruised again, because I painted terribly but he was, and is, one of those rare painters who can teach well. He is gracious and sharing giving his students everything he's got. Brutally honest sometimes which is for the good! He has been very kind to me over the last few years taking time to do a critique of my work once every so often when I am sure he was so super busy carrying home all his awards and shipping paintings to museums' permanent collections.

When The Portrait Society of America first approached me, in my role as a Co-State Ambassador for CA,  about the idea of Los Angeles hosting one of its national teaching Academies for the first time, and who I thought might teach it, well, Morgan was the first name that came out of my mouth. I was 100 per cent sure this was our guy! I was blown away when he agreed to do right away.  I thought I might have to do some severe arm twisting. But that is gracious Morgan for you and we were lucky to have him. And no-one got, yes, you guessed it, bruised in the process. 

Skip forward a few months, and after a lot of preparation, hard work and volunteer hours there he was doing a demo at the Brand Library in Glendale for 100 eager artists a weekend ago followed by a workshop for 32 the next day.

True to form, Morgan did an effortless demo talking, and entertaining the crowd the whole way through taking questions as he went.  Patient with a few wacky questions at that. Just look at those piercing blue eyes! No, not on Morgan, on the model. Although Morgan does have nice eyes too. However those eyes in the painting are copyrighted just so you know, as are all images here.  Most everything about Morgan is copyrighted as so many have tried to lift his award-winning work. The price that a super successful artists pay. Can't wait to be ripped off myself.

The following day he worked on each artists' canvas making his teaching statement more clear. Values: light family and shadow family, keep them apart. Five values: three for the light and two for the shadow. (Students in my class at LAFIG will be used to this!)

Four types of edges, hard, soft, firm and lost. Color and temperature. Get the value correct -color will follow. How true. Shapes...there are good and bad ones. Think "line meets curve", not wiggly Cheesit looking things. Morgan talks a lot about the importance of good drawing.

I have never forgotten in the workshop I did with him, he said the only difference between him and me was drawing. I think that a slight understatement but I got his point and those that know me, know I have worked hard at improving my drawing since. This will continue. I have also learned the value of impeccable draftsmanship from the one and only Mr. Everett Raymond Kinstler, N.A. ( See earlier posts for more on this marvelous man and one shortly to follow about HIS magical workshop in New York this weekend.

These days I drool over Charles Dana Gibson, Monty Flagg, Howard Chandler Christy, and Harrison Fisher. These are my drawing idols. There is a famous quote that Mr. Kinstler often shares about Charles Dana Gibson being able "to draw white paper". Few people draw like these guys today, in unforgiving pen and ink too! It is a lost art.  Certainly a lost level of drawing.

Morgan talked about the value of Anders Zorn etchings. They fall into the above category. Copy Morgan advises. I now do. You won't regret it.

I don't think people get better at painting, they get better at seeing, observing, and quite simply drawing it with more fluidity and skill.  Students come to class complaining about their progress. I ask them, are you practicing your drawing outside of class, your forms, the structure of the features? I KNOW the answer already. I have often shared what Morgan said to me about my drawing.

For those of  you that couldn't make the Academy, go as fast as you can to Morgan's website and purchase one of his DVD's. I had someone this week tell me it was the best she has ever seen after purchasing it at the workshop. This artist is a professional herself of quite some standing. A good testimonial I would say. I also have both Morgan's DVD's and agree they are fantastic.

Morgan Weistling's website is

All thanks to Morgan!