Painting the Figure from Photographs

Barbara Noah is a visual artist who teaches painting, drawing, mixed media, and 2D/3D interdisciplinary arts, including both representational and abstract work. She has taught at the University of Washington, Cornish College of the Arts, UCLA, and Cal State University, Long Beach. Her art practice has included work in several media (digital imaging, painting, print, photography, sculpture, installations, and public art). She has exhibited in venues such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Seattle Art Museum, Henry Art Gallery, Artists’ Space and The New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, the City Museum in Nakhodka, Russia, the Shenzhen Art Institute Gallery in China, and the Biennial Exhibition of La Jeune Gravure Contemporaine-Paris in France. Her work has been published in ARTnews and Art in America. Barbara is the recipient of Artist Trust’s THA Grant and a Pollock/Krasner Grant. She received her B.A in Art from Mills College and an MFA from Pratt Institute in New York.
Saturday, Sunday
9:30 A.M.-4:30 P.M.
3/24-3/25
$215
Gage Capitol Hill
All Levels Welcome
Bring more than one photograph (to choose among) of a figure you would like to paint. If the photos already have backgrounds you want to include, you will not need a separate photo of a background for your figure. If you do not want the backgrounds in the figure photos you bring, you may also bring a photo of a separate background in which to insert your figure. Try to make sure that the background photo has the same or similar lighting (from the same direction) to the figure photo. Try to find figure photos in which the subject is lit from the side, top, or bottom, not lit from the front (no flash photos) or backlit. We will select among the photos you bring when you come to class. If you wish, the photos you bring can have personal meaning to you or social or other cultural meaning.

You may use either acrylic paints or oil paints for this weekend workshop. Golden Artist Colors makes a slow-drying paint called OPEN acrylics, which dries much slower than regular acrylics, although is fully compatible with them. I recommend it for blending time, but if you already have the quicker drying regular acrylic paints, it will be fine to use those.

Acrylic Paint:

  • Your choice of heavy body or Golden brand OPEN (OPEN is slow-drying) acrylic paint, or your choice of other acrylic paint brands. Include basic colors, including these or other comparable colors: yellow (e.g., Hansa yellow, cadmium yellow hue), red (e.g., Pyrole Red, Napthol Red), Quinacridone Magenta or Cobalt Violet, Pthtalo Blue or Ultramarine Blue, Phthalo Green or Permanent Green Light, Titanium White, Carbon or Mars Black, Burnt Sienna, Cadmium Orange Hue. Substitutions are fine.
  • Retarder if you want to slow paint drying but don’t want to buy
  • OPEN paints. Acrylic gloss medium to thin your paint (Golden OPEN gloss medium if you want slow-drying medium)
  • Acrylic gloss gel medium, to mix with paint, which keeps the paint thicker like the heavy body paint itself (may be OPEN gel, if you wish, for slower drying)
  • 2 Stretched canvases or canvas panels –18 x 24 or similar sizes. You may only make one painting, but have a second on hand in case you want to start over or have time to make two.
  • Palette knife for mixing paint
  • Palette or disposable palette pad – minimum around 12” x 15” or so, with flat mixing area
  • Golden polymer varnish, gloss – small size fine
  • An array of shapes and sizes of synthetic brushes for acrylic paint
  • Rags
  • Vinyl gloves if you want to keep your hands clean
  • Can or jar for water

Oil Paint:

  • Your choice of oils colors, including these or comparable colors – yellow (cadmium yellow pale or medium hue), orange (cadmium orange hue), red (cadmium red hue or alizarin crimson), violet (cobalt violet, manganese violet), ultramarine blue or cobalt blue, permanent green light or phthalo green or viridian hue, titanium white, ivory black or similar, burnt sienna, yellow ochre.
  • 2 Stretched canvases or canvas panels –18 x 24 or similar sizes. You may only make one painting, but have a second on hand in case you want to start over or have time to make two.
  • Palette knife for mixing paint
  • Palette or disposable palette pad – minimum around 12” x 15” or so, with flat mixing area
  • An array of shapes and sizes of synthetic or pig hair brushes specified for oil paints
  • Rags
  • Vinyl gloves to keep your hands clean
  • 2 Cans or jars for your paint medium
 
Either by choice or by necessity, artists do not always make figure paintings from life. In this workshop we will explore painting the figure from photography. We will review the work of several artists, such as Kehinde Wiley, who use photos to paint their figures. We will analyze what aspects in photographs are the most useful in translating the image into paint, including the important element of lighting. We will also examine possibilities for backgrounds, as well as issues that arise when incorporating more than one figure from photograph into a painting.

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