Lessons learned

I just finished an online workshop with Felicia Forte. She is a well-known representational oil painter whose works has been exhibited throughout the US as well as abroad. I had taken her workshop in Los Gatos, CA and felt that I can learned more from her. So I signed for her online classes.

There were many “aha” moments but the main point I have taken away from the sessions is that I need to pay more attention to clean brushstrokes and to be decisive in what colors I mixed. Below is a quick oil study that I did after finishing.

Nectarine Study
Nectarine oil study by Marlene Lee

A Weekend with Still Life Painter, Qiang Huang

I was excited to be able to take a workshop with Qiang Huang. I had been following his blog for a few years now and had admired his loose brushworks and gestural paintings of still life, landscapes and figurative.

Basically self-taught, Qiang, had become successful in selling his works online as well as in galleries. He had taken workshops from David Leffel and Scott Burdick.

So his “secrets” in loose brushstrokes were “revealed” to me in this workshop.

Still life set up

Setting up the still life was so important. There were still life stations set up and we, students had to set up our own still life. Qiang then went around each station and critique our still life, even rearranging to show what worked and what didn’t. This was a gold nugget for me.

Stage 1 – Placement of large shapes.

Before blocking in Qiang applied a little linseed oil to smooth out the surface. Even on his linen canvas. This allows the paint to go on smoothly especially for the background that needs to be transparent.

Stage 2 – Establishing three values – darks, middle and light

Using a mixture of ultramarine blue and transparent red oxide, Qiang painted in the darks and mid values with a soft watercolor brushes. It seemed that he painted mostly with that. His principle with brushes is sable/synthetic brushes for transparency like in shadows and darks. For light, bristles are best for texture and opaqueness.

Stage 3 – Painting in Colors

Now comes the general application of colors. Here Qiang followed his grisalle established in Stage 2 to determined the values of colors for each object. He put in his very darks and his light in order to work the mid values. There is an abstract quality at this stage. He questions the temperature, the opacity and the chroma for the objects in the set up. It was in this stage that I got lost in my own painting.

Stage 4 – Modeling

Here edges are defined. Are they soft or sharp? The objects are looking more like 3-D.

Stage 5 – Consolidation

The final is completing the painting. It’s solidifying the colors into the objects. Or leave some in an abstract form.


Below is my painting in the workshop…actually it’s the second one.

The set up

Qiang rearranged our still life. It was important that it reads from left to right.

Stage 3

I was able to establish the values and add the colors to match up with the values. This was my second attempt.

This was one of the best workshop I had ever attended. Qiang, a former professor, knew exactly how to present his lessons a logical way – broke his painting process in stages.

In addition he presented his lessons in different ways for different learners. Day 1, Qiang did a three hour demo and then we painted in the afternoon. Day 2 though he painted in stages. He did stage 1 and then we went to our stations and did stage 1. All the stages was done this way so that we can see where we have done right or wrong.

Qiang is a regular at Patris’ and hopefully, I can take his workshop next year.


Encaustic Portrait Painting Workshop

I took this workshop back in February. Taught by Francisco Benitez, he introduced us to the history of encaustics painting. Encaustic painting were first discovered among the Egyptians and Greeks artists. Egyptians used encaustics for their Fayum portrait paintings for tombs and Greeks for their paintings on ships.

In this workshop, Benitz introduced encaustic portrait painting. We worked from a live model. First did a quick sketch to determine composition, and shadows/light patterns then we laid in a pencil outline of the model on a canvas panel.

The colors are heated; we used the 4 colors that the ancient Greeks and Egyptians used – white, black, red and yellow ochre. Sound familiar? Zorn! Two piles are created – reddish tone for shadows and the yellowish tone for lights.

The wax color is either painted on with the heated blow gun keeping it melted enough to spread. Or the color is brushed on and then heated with the blow gun to fused the wax color to the bottom layer. A heated tool is provided for detail. Bristle brushes are used instead of synthetic so they do not melt.

Photo references in my FB fanpage shows how Benitz worked when painting his portraits.

Encaustic Portrait Painting Workshop