Charles Weed Returns to Roma in 2018! –

The Rome Apprenticeship with Charles Weed: we are delighted to announce that Charles Weed will return to Rome in 2018 to conduct a new kind of ongoing, oil painting workshop. For four days every two months, Charles will work with students who wish to develop beyond the techniques of direct painting and into the realm of building an oil painting over time.

For any painter interested in enriching his or her education, this is a golden opportunity not to be missed!

For all the details, please visit The Rome Apprenticeship with Charles Weed page.

Renaissance Retreat Featured on Jackson’s Art Blog

PADASOR Courses in Painting and Drawing Start Again September 14th, 2017

Space is limited. First come, first serve.

For details, or to register, please visit our Courses page.

The Providence of Fundamentals – Learning to Draw Before You Paint Pays Dividends

This story is a tribute to new students of mine who brought with them some rare commodities—courage and tenacity.  The story goes like this:

Prior to the end of 2016 I had received several requests for a drawing class.  “I want the basics,” they said, and that made me more than happy.  Rare it is to find these days a beginner who understands how important it is to start at the beginning, let alone several, unrelated, at the same time.  (To be clear, painting is not the beginning, drawing is.)

So I obliged and offered a course I called Fundamentals, Parts I and II: Drawing and Painting the Still-Life.  The first day was a great success (or so I thought).  It was February 4th, 2017, there were five students, and three had paid the registration fee, which implied they were committed to the class.  I did a demo on how to start, then each assembled a simple still-life and got to work.

As the weeks passed, the numbers dwindled.  Subject matter just not sexy enough?  Something else?  I don’t know.

What I do know is that the student who stayed with it—Yana, a talented and strong-minded Siberian—produced a beautiful still-life in graphite.  Here is a gallery of her effort:

But this story isn’t just about Yana.  It’s also about Livia.

Livia came late to the course at the beginning of March when only Yana remained.  I had already gotten to know Livia from the Figure Drawing class I held on Thursday evenings.  After a couple of weeks of figure drawing she asked me if she could attend any other class so she could put in more time.  I told her about the Fundamentals class and said she could join it on one condition: you stick with it to the end.  She agreed.

Much to my delight, she kept her word.  By the end of March, she was the only one. (Yana had left to visit the homeland.)

Livia’s development was a joy to see from week to week, which you can witness for yourself in the gallery below.  In light of the fluid world we live in today, it is most comforting—nay, most relieving—to be reminded that some understanding and practice of basic principles are ever pillars of reward.  I am especially pleased with what she was able to accomplish with the painting.  Could it have been thus without some knowledge of drawing?  Perhaps.  But rather than count on providential intervention during a baptism-by-fire painting experience, I’d prefer to see more like her have the courage to tackle the fundamentals first.

So this story is to say “thank you” to Livia and Yana for seeing the strength in the basics and sticking with it.

Brave!  Sono orgoglioso di tutte e due.

Timothy Allen
Founder and Director
The Painting and Drawing Art Studio of Rome

 

 

Courses in Painting and Drawing Start September 15th, 2016!

New Courses Start February 4th, 2016

Figure drawing starts Thursday, February 4th; portrait painting alla prima and advanced painting start Saturday, February 6th.  Reserve your place today.  In addition: you are invited to join me for a free lecture on Saturday, February 6th at 15:00.  For all details, please visit our Courses page.

Join Us for the PADASOR Student Show on Sunday, December 13th, 2015

The first student show since 2010 will be held this Sunday, December 13th from 18:00 to 21:00 at Studio Soderini, Via Fulcieri Paulucci de Calboli, 20 E in Prati.

How to Calibrate Your Drawing from Life with a Camera, Computer and Image Editing Software

Max Doerner said “it is no more possible to learn to paint from books than to learn to swim on a sofa.”  A variation on that could easily be “it is no more possible to learn to draw from photographs than to learn to swim on a sofa.”

That said, I’ve realized in recent years that it can be very helpful to compare a life drawing to a photograph, especially given the ease with which it can be done.  Here’s what you need to do it:

  • A camera (an iPhone will do);
  • A computer (I use a Macbook Air);
  • An image editor (I use Adobe Fireworks from CS5, now discontinued; else Photoshop will work)

Step 1.  Take a picture of your drawing, then take a picture of your model, taking care not to get too close in order to avoid an overly distorted image.

Step 2.  Import both pictures into the image editor, placing one on top of the other.  If they are different sizes, don’t worry.

Here I have imported the photo of the model, Flavia.

Here I have imported the photo of the model, Flavia.

Step 3.  Scale the photo of the model to the drawing (Don’t worry if the model image gets pixelated.)  To do this, put the model image on top of the drawing image, set the model image to 50% transparency and increase (or decrease) the size of the image until it more or less coincides with one or more of the principle features; I usually target the eyes and nose.

With the image of Flavia at 50% transparency, I've matched the size of her image to the drawing below.

With the image of Flavia at 50% transparency, I’ve matched the size of her image to the drawing below.

Step 4.  Bring the model image back to 100% transparency and trace paths over the principle lines of the features: the contours of the head, the ears, the shadow around the eyes, the nose, mouth, chin, etc.

Here you can see the I've traced her features using a mouse and the pen tool in Fireworks.

Here you can see the I’ve traced her features using a mouse and the pen tool in Fireworks.

Step 5.  Turn off the model image and—voilà—you’ll immediately see right away what is right and what isn’t.

I centered the drawing on the nose, so that works. But the eyes are little too high (making the face seem longer) and her jaw on the right needs to be wider. It's amazing how these small errors can make a big difference!

I centered the drawing on the nose, so that works. But the eyes are little too high (making the face seem longer) and her jaw on the right needs to be wider. It’s amazing how these small errors can make a big difference!

One of my students, Stefano, also did a similar analysis, I believe with photoshop:

The eyes are very close, but note how dramatic the change is with the corrected line of the shoulders and the addition to the left side of the head.

The eyes are very close, but note how dramatic the change is with the corrected line of the shoulders and the addition to the left side of the head.

Bravo, Stefano!

Conclusion: avoid trying to improve you drawing by working from photographs, but take advantage of technology to help you calibrate your hand/eye coordination.  You’ll strengthen your sense of proportional relationships and start to realize things like a short jaw doesn’t mean make it longer, rather the mouth and nose are too low.  You’ll also become aware of where you have a tendency to err: I knew before starting the drawing that I tended to make noses too long—and during the drawing I moved it up twice!—but that still wasn’t enough.  Now it should be relatively easy to make some fixes… then I’m ready to transfer the drawing and start painting.