This summer I had the good fortune to be able to take a one week oil portraiture class with David Goatley in my own home town. Cripes, I only had to walk one block to even get there! Gibsons School of the Arts offers wonderful summer courses and we’re a great little getaway location in Gibsons, British Columbia on the Sunshine Coast so check out their fine sites. David’s work above, The Honourable Iona Campagnolo, Lt. Governor of BC, Canada 2001-2007.
David was a very good teacher, gave great demos each morning on the specific approach to be covered that day and these lasted from about 9 until about 11. Then we had a little under an hour before our lunch break and then from about 1 till 4. From Monday through Wednesday, we created a painting a day from start to finish, working within a specific constraint. We had the same model each day and while I was initially disappointed with that, I was quickly thrilled not to have to learn a new model’s facial landscape each day with all the other challenges at hand. Working with my water miscible oil paints and trying to capture the model portrait in 4 hours max was a great learning curve and although my efforts are not worth exhibiting as final works, they were very worthwhile exercises on the road forward. When working from a live model, I always bring the work to a complete finish within the time frame, the same way I approach life drawing and I never go back in and continue to work on it after the session has ended. When the final half hour starts ticking down, I try to pull it all together as “something” and usually go in and scrape down fine lines to the white canvas.
On Day One, he had us work only in black and white. We started in straight away with the brush and no preliminary line drawing.Not too horrific and I gained some confidence of working quickly with my paints. Working with natural sunlight was a challenge as the light shifted quite a bit even with the good curtains but that was a good learning experience too as it took us all some time to realize such a shift was being created and then take some action to block down the sun later in the day to return the model to the earlier light conditions. Day 2 we used black, terra rosa, yellow ochre and white.
My work from Day 3 in slightly broader color range but still in just under 4 hours.
Day 4 and 5, we brought a full seated portrait to life with all the bells and whistles available to hand and were encouraged to spend the entire first morning getting the drawing right with charcoal before starting in with the paint.
My final piece after 2 days of work and the model in the background. It’s always so worthwhile to take a class that pushes you along. This restrained palette and even the choice of pose, attitude and costume would never have been what I would have set up on my own, but, heck, if I wanted to just paint in my own way, I could just have stayed home, right? The whole point of a class is to push you along and help you learn what you do and don’t like, what works best and there’s always so much to learn from the other students too. Being a portrait painting class, this was NOT a course for rank beginners and we had a great group of twelve artists who really brought something special and all left with something too. Thanks David for a great class!
Published on: Aug 30, 2012