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!


Jessica Diaz said...

Yes, what a night it was! The professional presentation allowed so many artists an up close and personal view of a true professional at work, or play. Morgan seemed relaxed throughout the evening and somehow remained balanced between painting and answering questions (which seems like an art within itself). I was very impressed and honored to have the opportunity to join you that evening, and what a special night!

Rhonda said...

Well your post has inspired me to order the DVD and I can't wait!!!

Portrait Painting By Johanna Spinks said...

You won't regret it Rhonda. Buy both!

Portrait Painting By Johanna Spinks said...

Thanks Jessica for your kind words regarding the event. It was a lot of work helping organize it but I couldn't think of a more wonderful artist than Morgan to put those volunteer hours in for.

He was not only amazing during the demo you saw but also at the workshop the next day. Look out for his DVDs.

Marco Bucci said...

Morgan is just amazing. His DVDs have helped me so much. I hope one day I can meet the guy. I figure I owe him a beer or two :)