Figure Painting

Steven Assael paints modern-day figures in haunting, quietly psychological portraits. A leader in contemporary figurative painting, Assael works exclusively from live models, fusing his modern subjects—goths and teens, men and women in costume—with an Old Master style and traditional tableaux. “Even though art is dead as we have known it, painting is not,” he has said. Assael’s work has been compared to that of Thomas Eakins, and reveals a similar interest the human figure both as aesthetic form and as vehicle for emotions and psychological states.

American, b. 1957, New York, New York, based in New York, New York

9:30 A.M.-4:30 P.M.
Live Model
Gage Georgetown
Choice of supports:

  • You can purchase lead primed canvas, (no acrylic primed), or lead primed canvas on boards (Raphael boards are great, Jerry’s carries them
  • boards: masonite (untempered) or birch plywood. use acrylic gesso to prime: use gesso cut 50% with water. Lightly sand the board with sandpaper between coats. You will probably need 5 to 7 coats.
    **** Or you can purchase already primed acrylic Boards, for this class 4, 16×20 or smaller. This is the easiest thing to do, least expensive and what I would recommend.


  • various size brushes, i.e. filberts, flats and fan brushes
  • various size sable brushes, i.e.. filiberts, fan
  • ***He uses a lot of fan brushes, not for smoothing, he paints with them and he wants you to have a variety of sable brushes. This is important to his process. If you don’t have these, you will miss out on practicing what he is showing you. The fan brushes need to be soft. Also, smaller ones can be sable or mongoose, the larger ones can be soft bristle such as silvertone #12

No paper palettes!
No acrylic paint!

Oil paints:

  • titanium white
  • brilliant yellow Lt or nickel yellow Lt., ( a light cool yellow)
  • Naples yellow Lt, Windsor and Newton
  • cadmium yellow Lt
  • cadmium orange
  • cad red Lt
  • yellow ochre light
  • Windsor and Newton transparent golden ochre
  • burnt sienna
  • alizarin crimson
  • ultramarine blue
  • Sennelier brown pink
  • Prussian blue
  • Kings blue
  • cad green Lt
  • viridian green
  • Dioxanine purple
  • burnt umber
  • ivory black


  • some soft rags, viva paper towels.
  • medium: Please bring stand oil and cold pressed linseed oil to the workshop. Bring some cheap linseed or walnut oil to clean brushes. DO NOT BRING ANY MINERAL SPIRITS OR TURPENTINE TO THE STUDIO, DUE TO HEALTH ISSUES!!!!!!!

He likes the boards to be primed with a mid-tone red (these are boards that are already primed with acrylic gesso), you can use any red acrylic, Napthol red on the boards or something like it (venetian red).

If you are using lead primed canvas, do not use acrylic paint on it. Use a thinned (with mineral spirits) red oil paint that will dry (not a cadmium – it will take a long time to dry), Napthol red, Windsor red with a little green are 2 good examples. If this is confusing call me!

For this workshop bring 4 boards, no larger than 16×20.bIf you do not have something for carrying wet boards, you can check, these are light, inexpensive and wonderful.

Steven Assael guides you to experiment with techniques for dealing with the flux of changes that occur as a model poses. You learn ways to hold and interpret what you see with a selective eye. Paying particular attention to color and light, Assael demonstrates ways to use direct techniques to portray people in a sensibility informed by the Old Masters through intense painting sessions and answering questions as they arise.