Friday, January 2, 2009


Images here reprinted by kind permission of Mr. Everett Raymond Kinstler, N.A., from his one hour workshop demo at The National Academy of Design, New York, November 200

It takes me ages to process a workshop with Mr. Everett Raymond Kinstler, (hence the delay in posting here). I have to chew over the fat and there is a lot to consider. I have a light bulb moment at every single workshop with him. There is just nothing like watching and listening to a master artist. Mr. Kinstler also teaches in a very hands-on concise way that is clear to understand.

However I do find it  hard  sometimes to put new learning down on my canvas. Rather like a baby, I need burping - all this new knowledge to digest.  Time at my own easel to process. I have often thought I am a very slow learner. But once I get it, I REALLY get it! BURBP!

I remember the first time I saw Mr. Kinstler on stage doing a demo in front of oh, only around 600 people. No pressure or anything. He painted away with such mastery while entertaining the crowd with witty stories.  I was gob-smacked by him.  (British translation..jaw dropped)

He advised that one "paint a mile of canvas" to make real progress and I have never forgotten this except  in my case it might be three miles.

Even though I am posting pix here from Mr. Kinstler's demo, and mighty fine it was, I don't think it really my place to describe his technique. That is for him to do as he does so well. I would however advise that each reader of this blog go to his website, www., and check out his many books and DVD's.  I have two copies of a couple. They are that good.

I think it o.k.  however to give a brief overview, as I understand his approach, around the pix posted here. 

Mr. Kinstler works on a DRIED mid-value canvas. He thinks of value first, color second. He mixes a 'soup' of mid-value color for the flesh, matched against the mid-value of his wooden palette. Everything is related to the mid-value. He will mix his shadows from this soup, placing other colors into the soup to adjust. He makes color vibrate and relate by taking a dab of the same color note, and placing it wherever he sees that color-value appear on the canvas. Marvelous to see him do this! He advises "make you color swim'", meaning take it through to other areas. Cheek color into hair color, underplane brim of hat, etc.

For a demo, where he works faster than the speed of light with great accuracy, he does a quick drawing block-in going for 'signposts' of the features, not thinking likeness but proportion at first. He will advise to go for the big shape of structure and form and the overall simple "light effect".  General to specific.

One thing he says all the time is "to paint the illusion"of what you see. For instance, if you are doing an eye socket don't paint it all.  Squint. Are you really seeing that highlight in the eye? Each individual eyelash hair?  Of course not, silly. I get a bit Zorn-y here. Look at his etchings to see how he keeps the masses simple, simplifying the light effect. Look at Mr. Kinstler's etchings too.

Come to think of it...come up and see my etchings any time. Sorry.

Mr. Kinstler quickly moves on to applying thicker paint to his sketch initially drawn with a big brush in a thin-ish wash. He will often hold onto the the original canvas using the dried untouched areas for a half tone in various places, in the hair, turning edges, etc.  Just yummy. Swish, swash, swish and he is soon done TALKING all the way. His saves his lightest light on the skin for the forehead but this is not a highlight just the lightest plane.  Highlights are for shiny things like eyeglasses and gold, he always points out. How many times have I made that mistake?

Mr. Kinstler talks all the time about values describing himself as a value-painter. People often ask me what is the single biggest thing I have learned from him over the last few years, and this area would be it. An understanding of value painting but many more miles of canvas to go to develop that understanding.

That's where the patience comes in. I have felt incredible frustration in myself at times. Not being able to paint to a level that I want to. Not understanding why I couldn't do this fast enough. 

 Well, darn it, it just takes time.  Repetition leads to mastery it is said. So I repeat, repeat, repeat and then suddenly when you least expect it,  the art learning penny will drop. I will see Mr. Kinstler do something he has done before many times, but FLASH!!! My brain is ready to understand it. It is the SINGLE best feeling in the world outside of childbirth. 

I tell my students you cannot rush the learning process. Ha! You can read the same art book two years later in your journey, and it will be a different book in terms of your understanding.

That's the magic of it in a way.  Now back to that mile of canvas and burping.


Marian Fortunati said...

It will be interesting to see the commentary....
I see he did the hair as a dark mass, but seems to do large masses of mid tone... Well, I'll wait to hear what you have to say..
Enjoy the rest of your holiday!!
And congrats again on your grant appointment!

Rhonda said...

Isn't it amazing that Mr. Kinstler can accomplish this in an hour? Thanks for sharing with us.

Portrait Painting By Johanna Spinks said...

Yes, Rhonda, amazing!