Thursday, February 12, 2009


I returned to my teaching class today at LAAFA (portrait painting  from the live model and still life from the live still life!) after another smashing weekend workshop with the remarkable Mr. Everett Raymond Kinstler, N.A., ( at The Arts' Student League of New York, my sixth February there in as many years studying with him.

Oh what joy it is to watch this great man paint. I feel so grateful.  One of his teaching tools is to do a super quick value study to show the point of painting on a mid-value dried ground rather than virgin white, judging how values RELATE mixing from a mid-value wood palette. He has very few rules in his workshops but NO  white paper palettes is one of them. 

The exact same color/value is used on both sides of the canvas from the same soup of paint,canvas  divided down the middle. One can  see clearly how quickly form can be built up on the mid-value side, using the dried toned canvas to create sheer silvery grey halftones.

I decided today to do such a mini- demo in MY own teaching class for the first time. I have always found this mini-demo each time with Mr. K. a great reminder of what it is all about. "Search for the middle", as John Singer Sargent's teacher Carlos Duran advised him to do in his early atelier days. Not that I will ever be in that category of painters but I can search for the middle using this approach.

Students and other artists are often resistant to this idea I find. Come to class with wet grounds colored day-glo green (no thin transparent silvery grey halftones  possible now using this wet ground) or just stick to using that wedding dress white canvas. 

 I had one old timer insist I was out of my mind toning the canvas ahead of time.  Sacrilegious to good painting. I think he thought I was out of my mind about other things too. Actually, safe to say, the guy didn't like me at all. Still doesn't.

Fine by me. I am fastidiously holding my ground no matter what. Just as well as I never looked good in virginal white even in my Madonna mimicking 80's days.

I post a head study done from this weekend's workshop in NYC, 18x24, three hours,  along with my mini-class value demo today taking a leaf out of the estimable Mr. K's large teaching book.  

All thanks to him and the middle.


Rhonda Hartis Smith said...

Mr. Kinstler is always inspiring. Thanks for your wonderful post, enjoyed seeing you at the workshop.

Marian Fortunati said...

It was a great class yesterday Johanna. I couldn't believe how you were getting to all of us students AND with all of the set-ups!! (Blog upcoming soon).

It's fun that you saw Rhonda there at the workshop, too.

Anonymous said...

This is good. I just love reading your stories. Wish I could write like that; some people are multi-talented.
Keep it up,

Dixie said...

This is good. I just love reading your stories. Wish I could write like that; some people are multi-talented.
Keep it up,

Portrait Painting By Johanna Spinks said...

Thanks everyone for kind words. I am glad someone is reading!!!