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



PADASOR’s First Painting Workshop in Washington, D.C.

The hit of the summer was the painting workshop that took place over two days this past August in Georgetown.  Masterfully organized by Maureen Murphy, the venue and on-site location were perfect and the audience couldn’t have been more enthusiastic and gracious.  My sincere thanks to all who participated: Maureen, Sharmila, Anne, Loraine and the model Carol.  A special thanks again to Maureen for all she did to put it together. Let’s do it again!



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Gina and Michayla: Summer School in Rome 2013

A video summary of Gina and Michayla’s three-week summer school experience in Rome in 2013:

Testimonial: Private Lessons in Drawing

Elisabeth had started with me in a group painting class, but it was clear from the start that  some basic drawing was needed.  We decided she’d come for some private drawing in studio.  Here is a look at her work.  The first drawing was our starting point.  The rest was done over the course of 8 lessons.  Well done, Elisabeth!

I had never taken art classes before and I felt very nervous when I started. I wanted to take private lessons so that I could focus on the basics of drawing. Tim is an excellent teacher, he explained things clearly, at the right pace and he knew when to intervene and when to just let me get on with it. I really love the sculptural approach to drawing that Tim teaches, it’s very dramatic. The classes were a lot of fun and I surprised myself with how much I progressed. I’m looking forward to continuing.

—Elisabeth F.

Spring 2012 in Review

A look at the work from Caravaggio Part I – Flesh Illuminated and Velazquez Revisited – Painting alla Prima.

Complimenti a tutti pittori e pittrici! Ci vediamo a Settembre… Cheers, Tim

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Destination Rembrandt in Review

My thanks to Rossana, Nadia, Franco, Paolo and Amel for a grand expedition.  Though careful steps were planned from lesson to lesson, it was always amazing to see the diversity of interpretation and execution.

There were several key technical discoveries:

  • Rich blacks were achieved with a mix of Ivory Black and Crimson Lake over layers of Red and Burnt Umbers;
  • Flesh was readily cooled and brightened with a Flake White (or Doak’s Flemish White) laid dryly (like a scumble) over layers of Yellow Ochre and Vermillion;
  • Crimson Lake and Ultramarine Blue (or Lapis Lazuli) mixed with Flake White made for much of the beautiful purples.

Perhaps the greatest strategic lesson was developing an awareness of the “hierarchy of the whole;” despite details, keep variety in the service of unity.

Below: some candid photos followed by a series of each student’s painting.

Nadia’s Rembrandt


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Franco’s Rembrandt

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Rossana’s Rembrandt

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Paolo’s Rembrandt

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Amel’s Rembrandt

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Testimonial: Copying Caravaggio

Il quadro del Giovanni Battista di Caravaggio l ho visto per la prima volta alla mostra delle Scuderie del Quirinale ed e’ stato amore a prima vista, credo di essere rimasta davanti a quel dipinto per almeno 20 minuti immobile con la gente dietro di me che reclamava il proprio turno. E’ difficile da spiegare, per chi non l ha mai visto dal vivo, e’ la perfezione!  I colori dell incarnato cosi’ reali, le forme armoniose del corpo che si staccano completamente dallo sfondo scuro , il volto assonnato , il drappo di quel rosso cosi’ ricco e corposo che viene voglia di toccarlo, la luce cosi’precisa e definita che illumina quel corpo cosi’ perfetto nelle proporzioni.  La cosa bella e’ che tutto ha un senso in quel quadro, anche il minimo accenno di forma e colore..pazzesco!  Dopo questo trip mentale ho deciso di realizzarne un falso.

Tim voleva affrontare l argomento flesh tones a studio, cosi’ abbiamo iniziato la nostra avventura.  Devo dire che, inizialmente, avevo solo una vaga idea di cosa potesse significare realizzare la copia di un quadro cosi’ complesso . Abbiamo iniziato con un disegno a carboncino su carta celeste, il disegno e’ stato poi trasferito , a grandezza originale, su tela di lino con una griglia.

KEEP THE EDGES SOFT e’ stata la frase piu’ ricorrente, Tim mi ha indirizzata verso un percorso di studio, direi, accademico. Sono stati preziosi i suoi consigli, la sua esperienza e la sua pazienza(perche’ con me ce ne vuole tanta).

Ho imparato a realizzare il colore dell incarnato, il chiaro scuro e la tecnica wet to wet, cioe’ utilizzare i colori su una superficie “bagnata” da un colore di base abbastanza diluito con olio di noce, questo permette(almeno da quello che ho appreso) di avere nel complesso un effetto uniforme tra sfondo e oggetto o soggetto del quadro, utilissimo direi to keep the edge soft.

C’e’ molta strada da fare ancora e molto da imparare…grazie Tim !!

Michela Ragusa
Novembre, 2011 Rome

Campagna & Cicala

Dal “gesture” della figura alla visione di un “indiano che dorme”: il primo workshop fuori Roma e’ stato splendidamente rigoroso. Un weekend di disegno della figura durante la mattina e pittura nella sera.  Ringrazio tutti coloro che hanno partecipato per l’impegno, l’entusiasmo, la grinta e il buon spirito di gruppo.  Un ringraziamento particolare va a Nadia e a Valeria per il loro invito e l’organizzazione ed un grazie davvero speciale a Valeria per l’ospitalita’ nel suo bellissimo studio di Fara in Sabina.