Monday, November 16, 2015

Paula B. Holtzclaw and her Artistic Path

Evening Moon, Paula Holtzclaw

"I choose to paint what is beautiful and meaningful, knowing that this act of celebrating and communicating the beauty in this world has the power to uplift and inspire." Paula Holtzclaw

Paula Holtzclaw, an award-winning painter from Waxhaw, N.C., is known primarily for her inspirational landscape paintings. She is a versatile artist, painting both still lifes, and landscape scenes. But she is best known for her coastal paintings of eco-rich pristine marshlands with cloud-filled skies. Her paintings transport you to a place of harmony, wonderment, and natural beauty.

I first saw Paula Holtzclaw's work a few years ago at the Cheryl Newby Gallery in Pawleys Island, SC. I was captivated by her paintings and began to follow her work. Paula often visits Pawleys Island and the gallery, but it wasn't until this year that I had the opportunity to meet her when she served as the judge for the 3rd Annual Seaside Palette, a Plein air painting event in Georgetown, SC. To read more on the Seaside Palette, please click here

As a committee member for the Seaside Palette,  I spent time with Paula by showing her around Georgetown and subsequently interviewing her for this article. I was surprised to learn that Paula began painting the same year that the Pawleys Island Festival of Music and Art (PIFMA) was founded. Both were celebrating their 25th anniversary. 

Paula Holtzclaw in her studio
"The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work." Emile Zola
I asked Ms. Holtzclaw what sparked her interest in art. She said she started at a young age and learned to love painting by watching her grandmother paint. Actually, both of her grandmothers painted, and one in particular, would share her paints and canvases with her. 

When visiting her grandmother, she began to love the smell of the oil paint, of the linseed oil, and other aromas that emanated from her workspace. Even today, these smells are a catalyst for many pleasant childhood memories. These early years nurtured her creativity and inspired her to become an artist.

Paula said it seemed that art was always present in her life. While growing up, she would often find herself in her room painting and drawing. During college, she took an art class but did not relate to the format being offered. Also, she said at that time, one did not think about art or painting as a career choice. After graduation, she went to work in the medical profession instead.

A Touch of Lace, Paula Holtzclaw

Around 1990, Paula once again began to paint for her personal pleasure. She would come home from work and study and paint in the evenings. Soon people began to buy her work. By the late 1990's Paula was represented in several art galleries. Once her painting income equaled that of her "day job" and with the encouragement and support of her husband Chuck, she left her 25-year medical career to focus on her painting and become a full-time artist.

Paula who is primarily self-taught believes that an artist’s education is a continual process, whether you are self-taught or traditionally educated, there will always be more to learn. Recently, she has studied with artists, Joni Falk, Linda Gooch, Jeff Legg and Scott Christensen.

Seaside Palette and Judging.
Shining Through, Paula Holtzclaw
Paula said she was honored to judge this year's Seaside Palette competition because Plein air painting and Pawleys Island are both near and dear to her heart.

When asked what criteria she used to judge the competition, Paula said she first considered the initial impact - the thing that initially grabbed her and made her stop to take a second look. She said it's something that she feels, and that speaks to her on a personal level.

She also viewed the art objectively, looking for composition and design, the use of color or value and movement in the painting. She focused on how one's eye moves around and through the painting. 

Lastly, she considered skill and intent and how the artist showed control over his or her medium. Another element was the artist’s use of color and a painterly style to make a big impression. Usually, presentation plays an important role, but in this case, it was not a factor because framing was not required of the artists.

Landscape Painting
Paula and Chuck a Board Certified Master Arborist share a common love of trees and support the preservation of the landscape. With this in mind, I asked how her paintings reflect her love of the environment: "I think it goes without saying that the preservation of our natural environment is critical to our civilization and to sustaining the health of our planet. As no one completely understands it's complexities, my art attempts to portray the joy and beauty of the unspoiled landscape as well as the sheer sensual wonder of being immersed in it."

Vestige, Paula Holtzclaw

Dream Project
When asked what she might consider a dream project Paula shared that her mother had grown up on a large southern farm, growing cotton, tobacco, and vegetables. As a child, she played in their old barns. 

Paula said, "I love barns, particularly the old tobacco barns. They speak of the times and the heritage of the old South. But they are rapidly disappearing from our landscape. I've painted quite a few, but I would like to research them more in-depth and paint a series."

The Artists Role in Society
When asked about the artist's role in society, Paula replied, "For me, it brings to mind the verse "to whom much is given, much will be required." The artist's role is important because the footprints of an artist stay with us, generation after generation.

Orchids with Pears, Paula Holtzclaw
“An artist has the ability to create, document, and impart the beauty of this world around us. Like music, art is able to unite, to evoke emotions strong enough to bring tears, to heal, and to inspire. It is truly a gift, and a blessing to have even a little bit of that ability.”

It was a pleasure to meet and spend time with Paula. She is truly a talented artist with a beautiful spirit. Her paintings are a true reflection of her personality. 

Upcoming shows:
Ms. Holtzclaw's paintings are in museums, national juried exhibitions, and private and corporate collections throughout the U.S.

Shows and locations:
American Impressionist Society at Trailside Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ.
Oil Painters of America Salon Show in Birmingham, ALA. 
Women Artists of the West At Tucson, Art Museum, AZ.
American Women Artist Show in Scottsdale, AZ. 

About Paula Holtzclaw
Paula Holtzclaw is a Master Signature Member of American Women Artists, a Signature Member of Women Painters Southeast, Associate Member Oil Painters of America, and Plein Air Painters of the Southeast (PAP-SE) and Signature Member of the American Society of Marine Artists. Please see Ms. Holtzclaw's website for her works. 

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Thanks for joining me, and please continue to send me your comments. I enjoy receiving your emails, comments on the blog and Facebook. If you like this article, please share this post with your friends or on Facebook.

Until next time...

Artfully Yours,

Please click to visit
Annette Goings Fine Art Website

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Interested in reading more articles on Artist's? Please click on the artist's name for more.
Chris Saper
Colleen Barry
Robert Liberace
Olena Babak 
Marc Dalessio - coming soon
Louise Jopling - coming soon

Monday, October 26, 2015

Plein Air Painting and the 3rd Annual Seaside Palette Part 1

Georgetown's Harborwalk Looking Towards Goat Island

For the past 25 years, every September through October, the small coastal town of Pawleys Island, S.C. has been host to a spectacular musical and visual event The Pawleys Island Festival of Music and Art (PIFMA). Located south of Myrtle Beach, Pawleys is one of the oldest summer resorts on the East Coast. 

Squonk Opera

As the kick-off for the annual festival, this year's annual Seaside Palette was held September 25-26 in the historic port town of Georgetown, S.C. Here, you will find beautiful views of the harbor and boats, Goat Island, and stroll past historic Charleston style homes and shops, while beautiful live oak trees arch over the streets. 

Plein air or landscape painters traveled from all over South Carolina to participate in this year's Seaside Palette. On Friday morning, the artists arrived, checked in, and then left to scout around Georgetown for their place to paint. Once settled, the artists painted throughout the day. At the end of the day, everyone gathered together for an artist's reception held at the Cultural Council of Georgetown County.

On Saturday morning, the second day of the event everyone went back to their easels, working to complete their paintings. Georgetown was bustling with Plein air artists covering the town. The Chalk Walk participants were busy transforming the sidewalks into masterpieces, and the Squonk Opera gave three musical performances. 

Visitors and locals toured the town, taking part in the activities and stopping at the outdoor cafes. It was a family-friendly and enjoyable atmosphere for everyone.

Kaminski House
In the afternoon, the artists took their paintings to the lawn of the historic Kaminski House for judging, the wet paint sale and a reception on the lawn other festivities included dance performances and music. 

This year's judge for the Seaside Palette was Paula Holtzclaw, an award-winning artist and resident of Waxhaw, NC. Locally, Ms. Holtzclaw is represented at the Cheryl Newby Gallery in Pawleys Island, SC. 

Paula Holtzclaw
The Seaside Palette continues to grow and expand. This year, more painters were welcomed to the two-day Plein air competition. Many beautiful paintings were completed, and quite a few were sold. Thank you, to all who participated, and congratulations to the winners.

Seaside Palette Winners   
First Place:        Kellie Jacobs
Second Place:    Tammy Medlin
Third Place:       Laurie Meyer
Honorable Mention: Margaret Little and Ruth Cox 

A little history. The Pawleys Island Festival of Music and Art began as a one-day event and has grown to include activities throughout the year - a culinary symphony, a garden party, wine gala, and concerts by nationally known performers. A few of this year's headliners were Aaron Neville, A.J. Croce, and Steve Tyrell.

PIFMA,  a non-profit organization  began with the goal to enrich people's lives through an awareness of the arts. Through the efforts and success of the festival, PIFMA has been able to create yearly scholarships in music and the visual arts. It also has a very active community outreach program.

The Visual Arts committee is integral to the larger organization and fosters the arts through events such as Gallery Crawls, Independent Film Festivals, Chalk Under the Oaks, and more recently, the Seaside Palette. The Seaside Palette and "wet paint" sale were created to promote and enhance opportunities for local artists. 

This year's co-chairs for the Visual Arts Committee were Barbara Kee and Pat Puckett. They both felt that this year's Seaside Palette was the most successful to date and both have a strong vision for the future of this event. Their goal is to create an awareness of Plein air painting and to expose more people to art and the potential that art brings to our daily lives. 

While this year's Seaside palette is over, the committee is already back at work planning and preparing for next year. To stay posted about next year's events, please refer to the Pawleys Island Festival of Music and Art's Visual Arts page. 

Paula Holtzclaw Interview -  Part 2
During the Seaside Palette, I spent time with Paula Holtzclaw, who judged the competition. I showed her around Georgetown and was able to interview her. In part 2 of this article, I will share more information on Ms. Holtzclaw as an artist, as well as her criteria for judging the Seaside Palette competition.

For the second part of the article please click here.

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Thanks for joining me, and please continue to send me your comments. I enjoy receiving your emails, comments on the blog and Facebook. If you like this article, please share this post with your friends or on Facebook.

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Artfully Yours,

Please click to visit
Annette Goings Fine Art Website

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Photos by Sue Goree and myself.

Monday, September 14, 2015

When in Boston, MA - 5 Must See Art Destinations

Carmen and Joanne painting by the Charles River

"Years ago I decided that the greatest need in our country was Art… We were a very young country and had very few opportunities of seeing beautiful things, works of art… So, I determined to make it my life's work if I could."

- Isabella Stewart Gardner, on the creation of her Museum, 1917

Recently, I was in Boston for a landscape workshop with Marc Dalessio hosted by Leo Mancini-Hresko at Waltham Studios. It was so nice to return to Boston. The last time I visited, I lived at Ft. Devens about an hour northwest of Boston. On weekends, friends and I would take the train into Beantown and explore this lovely city. Unfortunately, it had been too long between visits.

To catch up with my friend, I arrived a few days before the workshop and began my exploring.  Here's where I visited, in no particular order. 

De Chavannes Murals 
The Central Library at Copley Square. The Boston Public Library System was founded in 1852 and was a pioneer in the movement of free municipal libraries in America. The Central Library opened in February 1895. It has over 700,000 volumes and a print collection that includes 200,000 prints and drawings and 120,000 chromolithographs.

The building itself is a masterpiece. Charles F. McKim designed the building in the Renaissance Beaux Arts style. It blends art and architecture in a space that was designed for public use.

Sargent Murals

The museum features amazing sculptures, bronze doors, murals created by world class artists. It also has an inner courtyard used for musical performances.

Grand Murals decorate the walls of the library. The main staircase and second-floor feature murals by Puvis De Chavannes entitled The Muses of Inspiration, Hail The Spirit, The Harbinger of Light. The second-floor features murals by Edwin Austin Abbey 1895 The Quest and Achievement of the Holy Grail. The third-floor features murals by John Singer Sargent. He began the murals in 1890and finished in 1919.

ISG Courtyard
The Isabella Stewart Gardner (ISG) Museum. Isabella Stewart Gardner and her husband, Jack Gardner, frequently traveled abroad. They were avid art collectors and patrons of the arts. The Gardners quickly filled their Beacon Hill home with artwork purchased on their trips.

In 1890, they began to collect art with the idea of building a museum. Around 1898, after the death of her husband, Mrs. Gardner began plans to build a Venetian-style Palazzo to house her collection.

After the construction of the Palazzo - Fenway Court concluded, Mrs. Gardner took one year to curate the collection.The collection is comprised of more than 2500 pieces that are diverse and carefully chosen. 

El Jaleo, John Singer Sargent, 91.5" x 137"
Isabella Gardner installed her collection of works in a way to evoke intimate responses to the art, mixing paintings, furniture, textiles, and objects from different cultures and periods among well-known European paintings and sculpture.  

The museum opened to the public in 1903 and Fenway Court would serve as the permanent home to her collection. After the opening, Mrs. Gardner lived on the fourth floor and remained there until her death in 1924. 

Here's a fun piece of information - if your name is Isabella, you receive free lifetime admission.

La petite danseuse de quatorze ans, Edgar Degas

Boston Museum of Fine Art (MFA). Opening in 1876, the Museum's first home was in Copley Square near the Central Library. In 1909, the MFA moved to a new Beaux Arts Building on Huntington Avenue near the ISG Museum. 

When visiting, wear comfortable shoes. The collections are inspiring, but there are miles of hallways and galleries to traverse. Fortunately, when you purchase a ticket, it's good for two days if you return within ten days. I took advantage of this and still only saw a fraction of their collection.

The museum offers free tours throughout the day to the various exhibitions. After arriving on my first visit, I took the tour of the Americas. The tour began with early American art with paintings by John Singleton Copley and a bowl by Paul Revere. The tour ends with contemporary artists such as Jackson Pollack.

The America's tour includes a number of paintings by John Singer Sargent including The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit. The museum's Sargent collection is comprised of approximately 500 objects. To add to his civic work from 1921-1925Sargent painted murals for the museum in the Rotunda and the Colonnade. In response to his work at the Central Library and the MFA, Sargent soon became Boston's favorite painter. 

Harvard Art Museums in Cambridge. The University of Harvard originally had three museums -  the Fogg Museum 1895, The Busch-Reisinger Museum 1903, and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum 1985. All were situated near one another on one entire city block.

In 2008, work began to increase the gallery space and connect all of the galleries. This project designed by architect Renzo Piano, was completed in 2013. The result is an impressive Glass Pyramid shaped roof uniting all of the galleries, which added 40percent more space. 

The central courtyard is light filled and stunning. The collections are equally impressive.

Newbury Street is home to galleries, boutiques, and sidewalk cafes. After a couple of days in museums, it was time for a change of scenery.

 I discovered Newbury Street quite by accident. Prior to my visit a friend, recommended a stop at The Guild of Boston Artists. After arriving on Newbury Street, I knew it was the place to spend the day exploring, shopping and of course eating.

The Guild of Boston Artists
The Guild of Boston Artists  was originally established in 1914 and started by Edmund Tarbell, William Paxton, and Frank Benson all prominent artists of the day. Currently, there are around 45 exhibiting artists and includes artists such as Joseph McGurl, J.C. Airoldi, and Donald Demers to name a few. 

Vose Galleries  Vose, established in 1841 is the oldest family-owned art gallery in America and has established a reputation for expertise in the history, acquisition and valuation of American art. The gallery has helped to build numerous public and private collections. Vose paintings hang in over 150 museums nationwide.

Godfrey Cabot, Lilla Cabot Lodge, MFA
While walking down Newbury, I happened upon Vose Galleries. It's a remarkable gallery with museum quality paintings I have seen in books. There were several, Sargent drawings, as well as works by, Edmund Tarbell, William Paxton, and Lilla Cabot Lodge. Current artists featured were Donald Demers and Liz Haywood-Sullivan. 

Other galleries I visited were Newbury Fine Arts showcasing contemporary artist and Gallerie d'Orsay featuring classical and contemporary works such as Rembrandt, Picasso, and Chagall. I enjoyed a delicious lunch at Piattini, a rustic Italian restaurant. The fresh bread, pasta, cappuccino, and Tiramisu were delicious. Of course, I had to skip dinner. 

Edmund Tarbell
The trip was a great reunion with my friend, and the weather was so cooperative during the entire visit. I'll be writing an article on Marc Dalessio soon and sharing some of his insights on landscape painting. 

I hope this inspires you to visit Boston, whether it's for art, history or Isabella Stewart Gardner's beloved Red Sox. There is so much to explore and experience. Enjoy!!

Thanks for joining me, and please continue to send me your comments. I enjoy receiving your emails, comments on the blog and Facebook. If you like this article, please share this post with your friends or on Facebook.

Until next time...

Artfully Yours,

Please click to visit
Annette Goings Fine Art Website

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Monday, August 24, 2015

How to Create a Visual Language - Mastering Horizontal and Vertical Lines

Apple Trees in Blossom, Isaac Ilyich Levitan

"Line is used primarily to contain where things go, to contain the form." Jeffrey Watts

The ubiquitous line...Everywhere we look, we see lines. The next time you gaze at a landscape, a cityscape or engage in people-watching, look a little longer and closer.

As we mature and have a more active life, visually speaking, we begin to collect information almost unconsciously. Only when something is out of the ordinary do we stop and do a double take. To retrain ourselves, we need to slow down and become an active viewer of the information that's being communicated through our visual senses.   

Beach at Trouvill, Constant Troyon
This article is third in a series. The two previous articles are Seeing and the Art of Drawing and The Ubiquitous Line, From the Caves of Lascaux to Van Gogh

The focus of this article is how horizontal and vertical lines affect our aesthetic understanding and appreciation of the world.

So...more about lines... A line is many points moving through space. Lines create a visual pathway for our eyes to analyze, inspect, and navigate.

Lines are one-dimensional and vary in width, direction, and length. Lines contain the formless and define the edges.

The different types of directional line are, horizontal, vertical, diagonal, and zigzag or curved. Implied lines guide your eye around and through a composition. 

Vertical Lines
Bauernhaus in Kammer am Attersee, Gustav Klimt
Lines can be used to build patterns, to create shading and texture, and to control value. In Klimt's painting, Bauernhaus in Kammer am Attersee, the lines on the building indicate bricks, and the lines in the foreground indicate fencing. His use of a shallow depth of field leaves us feeling as if we are standing in the painting gazing upwards. We don't need to see each brick or each fence post because we understand his visual shorthand.

Lines can be used to create a sense of perspective, as shown in Klimt's painting and in Boston Common at Twilight by Hassam. 

In Hassam's painting, the use of vertical lines in the trees, the buildings, and buses, provide a sense of balance. Visually, we are led down the sidewalk with the rest of the pedestrians and come to rest at the treeline just as the sun is setting. 

Boston Common at Twilight, Childe Hassam

Repeated lines give a sense of order or harmony. Hassam uses parallel lines with uniform spacing and width, as in the trees to create a static and orderly effect. This also creates a sense of motion and movement. As the width of trees, buildings and post get smaller, we move further into the painting and participate in a glowing winter landscape.

Tannenwald Pine Forest, Gustav Klimt

What do we see when vertical lines meet the horizon? Vertical lines are awake, and alert. They are strong and rigid, often defying gravity. 

Vertical lines such as those in Klimt's Tannenwald Pine Forest communicate a sense of stateliness, nobility and spirituality. The trees seem to extend upwards beyond human reach, towards the sky.

Harney Desert, Childe Hassam 

In the modern world vertical lines imitate nature and dominate city skylines and public urban architecture.

Before skyscrapers, this earth to heaven connection was successfully incorporated into the designs of cathedrals and palaces. Stretching from the earth to the heavens, we often equated this type of architecture with religious sentiments and the divine right of kings.

Rouen Cathedral, Claude Monet

Monet's Rouen Cathedral appears solid, massive and immovable. The lines found in this painting reinforce the perceived relationship with the heavens much like Klimt's forest

Monet's cathedral's resonates with glory and dignity, and we are filled with awe by the subject and his talent. To see more of this architecture, visit Duomo di Milano, Cathedrale Notre-Dame de RiemsGaudi's Basilica de la Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, or the Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Rouen.

Horizontal Line
Village at the Riverbank, Isaac Levitan 

Horizontal lines are aptly named they are parallel to the horizon where the earth meets the sky. If you are mathematically inclined, they have no slope. Or another fun way to think of it is a horizontal line has the same height at all points on the line.

Russian artist Levitan makes great use of this in his Village at the Riverbank. The lines appear as if they are lying down, at rest. The lines suggest the sleepy little village is a calm and quiet place to relax. There is a sense of comfort and repose. The slow curved line adds to this feel.  

Spring, Alexey Savrasov

Unlike vertical lines, horizontal lines are closely associated with the earth. 

Alexey Savrasov's Spring painting accentuates the expansiveness of nature, her stability, and her sense of security. On this spring day, there is no trace of conflict - just balanced harmony. Savrasov was Levithan's teacher.

Constant Troyon, Cattle Drinking
In compositions where horizontal lines dominate, objects parallel to the earth appear to be in a harmonious relationship with the environment. Strong horizontal elements support the relationship of the objects or structures to the land as in the painting Cattle Drinking by Constant Troyon.

Troyon began as a porcelain painter and later became interested in pastoral scenes. Troyon's scenes featured peasants and animals in everyday life. This type of painting was a novelty at the time. However he became very successful within this oeuvre.

In Cattle Drinking, he uses horizontal and vertical lines to communicate stability and solidity. The 90-degree angle of the forest suggests permanence and reliability. The sky is expansive and somewhat dynamic. 

As you can see horizontal and vertical lines  bring their own unique quality to a composition. Each one communicates visual cues to the viewer

What type of lines and compositions are you drawn to? What has developed your aesthetic understanding and appreciation of the world" What excites you?

Stay tuned for the next article in this series, which will be on the more dynamic lines -  diagonal, zigzagged and curved.   

Thanks for joining me, and please continue to send me your comments. I enjoy receiving your emails, comments on the blog and Facebook. If you like this article, please share this post with your friends or on Facebook.

Until next time...

Artfully Yours,

Please click to visit
Annette Goings Fine Art Website

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Monday, August 3, 2015

Chris Saper: Portraiture and the Pursuit of Excellence...a Workshop

Portrait Studies by Chris Saper and Materials table

"I love the discipline of working with clients in a shared vision of the portrait to be painted. There's a satisfying result when I can achieve beautiful skin tones, accurate likenesses, and yet still paint a lovely piece of art." Chris Saper

Stage1,Study of Janet Napolitano
by Chris Saper
Long before I became interested in painting portraits professionally, I was a fan of artist Chris Saper and her teaching style.

I'll briefly share with you more about the work of Chris Saper. Then I'll share the part of my artistic path where I met Chris and most recently attended her workshop, For Love or Money: Portraiture and the Pursuit of Excellence. This workshop was held July 13-17, 2015 in Prescott, Arizona. 

First, more about Chris Saper...

For the past 24 years, portrait artist Chris Saper has painted almost every day. Since starting her commission portrait painting practice in 1991, she has completed almost 400 commissioned portraits nationally. Chris has exhibited at the US Senate Rotunda, The Salmagundi Club, The National Arts Club in New York City and other locations. 
Stage 2
Former Governor of Arizona,
U.S. Sec. of Homeland
Security and  
President of
University of California 

Chris is a passionate artist and prolific teacher. She has served on the Faculty of the Portrait Society of America the Scottsdale Artist's School, the Mountain Artists' Guild in Prescott, AZ, and the Connecticut Society of Portrait Artists

She has authored four books and has published in various journals and magazines. Her books include Classic Portrait Painting in Oils: Keys to Mastering Diverse Skin Tones and Mostly Monochrome. She has also filmed four instructional DVDs on portraiture.  

My Journey with Chris Saper

During my development as an artist, I have encountered many connections to Chris Saper, both as an artist and a teacher. 

My artistic path hasn't been conventional and at first, I painted in my spare time. I was, however consistently looking for ways to improve my skills and preserve my connection to my creativity. I'd been painting for a couple of years when my father died rather suddenly. Until that time, I had painted still life and landscapes. Shortly after his death, for some unknown reason, I painted my first "portrait". 

The "portrait" was of a child featured in a magazine. That was my first painting of a person. It wasn't a masterpiece, but there was something about the painting that felt right. That was when Chris Saper came into my life. It wasn't possible to go back to school full time, but I wanted to explore portraiture. I had seen Chris Saper's books and videos on a website and ordered them.

Finished Study,for larger
painting by Chris Saper 
Over the next few years, I spent time reading her books and watching her videos. All the while, I became more inspired by her teachings and more interested in portraiture. This was the beginning of my steady and persistent journey towards portraiture. 

During those couple of years, I developed many new skills. As I was trying to decide what to do with these skills, I attended my first Portrait Society of America Conference in 2013. (For more information on that conference, see my article here.)

After arriving at the conference in Atlanta in 2013, I went to visit the vendor area to wait for the evening events to begin. While there I stopped at the Hughes Easel raffle table. As I was completing the raffle entry form, a person walked up, stood next to me and began to speak. I knew that voice so was the voice of my teacher on the videos.

Since that meeting, I have continued to be inspired by Chris Saper. She has a sincere desire to help people achieve their personal best. It wasn't until this July that I had the good fortune to attend one of her workshops.

The Workshop

Chris Saper Demonstrating
After enrolling for the workshop, I received the schedule of events. It was going to be a full four days. Chris is a generous teacher and wants to share as much of her knowledge as possible. Prior to leaving for Arizona, I decided to review her videos and books in preparation.

The workshop covered two important branches of portraiture: capturing an accurate likeness and preparing yourself for the business aspect of commissioned portraiture.

Chris has extensive knowledge about both painting and business and has also written a book titled For Love or Money: A Business Handbook for Portrait Painterswhich serves as the outline for the workshop. Although not required for the workshop, it's a good reference book for any library. 

Chris Saper is also a Gamblin Dedicated Workshop Instructor. When we each arrived the first day of the workshop we received a sample bag of Gamblin products, which was a nice surprise to the start of the workshop.

What We Learned From Chris

"It is absolutely impossible to overstate the importance of working from life, not only when you are beginning, but at every single step of the way throughout your career."Chris Saper

Chris Saper and Models for Day 1 
Over the course of four days, we painted two very different models. We first, focused on drawing skills and values and then reviewed the aspects of a good composition and photography. She spoke about business practices and gave handouts and several PowerPoint presentations. She also answered questions with ease.

I'll share a few highlights from our day-to-day activities. Each day was a mix of painting, lectures and question and answer sessions. The workshop moved at an energetic but comfortable pace.

On the first morning, Chris gave a lecture on lighting, the effects of cool and warm light on the model and their clothing, and the different types of lighting used on the model. Then she gave a painting demonstration. Afterward, we worked from the model for half a day.  

On day 1, two young girls were our models, and on day 3, two older gentlemen were our models. For the portrait sketches, we kept the head size to 7". This size would allow us to work from the photos the next day. 

On day 2  and 4, we painted using our photographic reference. Using photos proved to be useful. They enabled us to correct measuring problems and get an accurate likeness as we kept working with color. 

Major Points From the Workshop

Chris Saper and a Model from Day 3 
Chris emphasizes drawing skills as one of the core areas to focus on to improve their painting skills. Sufficient drawing skills should be the goal for anyone pursuing portraiture. These skills allow one to extract more information from the photos.

With the relevant experience obtained through close observation from life drawing or painting, one will be able to augment a photo. However, she advises that if people rely entirely on photographic reference material, it often shows in their work.

Chris states that working from inadequate resource material may result in major problems. She encourages everyone to purchase a good camera, become proficient with using it, and take her or his photographic reference materials. 

Today, most portrait clients lead busy lives. It may be possible to have a client "sit" for you once or twice. But the majority of the portrait will most likely be painted using photographic reference material. She also teaches a segment on using Photoshop CC to print photos in your desired working size. 


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Concerning the business side, Chris said it takes time often years to build a commissioned portraiture business. She emphasizes using a long-term approach where one uses well-honed skills and experience to attract clients. With that said, developing a business requires a considerable amount of time and effort. 

Chris Saper advised us to start incorporating business practices early on. You will need essentials, i.e., business cards, a portfolio of your original work, well-photographed work, and samples of everything you plan to offer. At the workshop, Chris also advised on framing, price lists, websites, social media, meeting clients, clothing, setting the scope of your commission and preparing for shows and juried competitions plus much more.

The Week's End...

At the end of the week, people were not ready to leave her workshop. She had touched on many subjects, and the class could have lasted many more days. The workshop was a great experience. 

It's interesting how life-changing events often bring new people into our lives. When I began reading Chris Saper's books and watching her videos, I could not have imagined attending this workshop or having a career in professional portraiture. Much has changed since then and this continues to be a lovely journey.  

Chris Saper is a talented artist and inspiring teacher. Through her portraits and teaching, she has been a positive influence for many, including myself. Please visit Chris Saper to learn more about her workshops and upcoming events. 

Thanks for joining me, and please continue to send me your comments. I enjoy receiving your emails, comments on the blog and Facebook. If you like this article, please share this post with your friends or on Facebook.

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Artfully Yours,

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