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Figurative Workshop Marathon – Finding Your Voice Through the Portrait
September 16, 17, 18

There is a centuries old tradition of painting the portrait and the self-portrait in art history. What generally started as a historical means to depict royalty and the welthy has become a contempory pursuit of self-expression. What compels artists to return to this genre of creative inquiry over the course of hundreds of years? Why do materials mater in conveying the figure and how do the properties of certain materials and processes mirror the physicality of the body? Why does the act of representing the self in painting and drawing still bring such insight and catharsis even in an era of a complete over saturation of the selfie? How is it that the representation of a human face can hold so much political and psychological punch? In this Figurative Workshop Marathon, we hope to address many of these ideas and much more. This workshop focuses on an expressive approach to figure drawing as opposed to a classical academy approach. While we will cover anatomy and structure of the figure it will be in the context of acquiring a set of tools to accentuate an expressive perspective.


Over the course of 24 hours over 3 days participants will experience the wondrous and powerful world of the portrait and self-portrait in all its depth and breadth with a specific focus on materials, process, content, and art history. We will integrate these ideas while constantly referring back to the idea that creating within the genre of “portraiture” can almost always be a self-referential statement, either singularly or within our larger society. This allows use to use this amazing genre as a profound vehicle for self-discovery.


If participants elect to attend the entire course of the Marathon, they will likely walk away with over 50 figurative studies that can inform longer projects in the future. This is an amazing opportunity to explore ways of seeing and working that an artist may not ever have had experienced before or have been too intimidated to try on their own.


All participants in the Marathon will be able to participate in an exhibition of work in the Winter of 2017. The Marathon is open to all levels of art experience, although some drawing fundamentals may prove helpful. If you feel you have less experience than necessary for the Marathon, don’t worry. That’s why we are here to support you. Our studio is a non-judgmental art making space and we pride ourselves on creating a space where we can all create without competition, judgement, bias, discrimination and a place built on a fundamental platform of respect.


Section One – Friday September 16


12 noon to 4pm

$85, $15 materials fee

There are endless ways to depict the figure. In this workshop, we will work from the live figure model and from self-portraits and focus on three major methods of conveying the figure: line, value and color. These methods can be effective used singularly and in combination to convey the representation and emotion of the human form. We will primarily study heads, faces and shoulders using contour line, blind contour, achromatic value scales and washes, monochromatic washes, and then practice combining each process until we integrate all three processes. We will practice a process of layering wet and dry materials to build mixed media figure studies that will include graphite, charcoal, watercolor, ink, gesso, and acrylic.


Section Two – Saturday September 17


10am to 4pm

$125, $25 materials fee

Capturing a variety of facial expressions can be one of the most difficult aspects of figurative art, however, working in a series can allow the artist to convey a depth and breadth of human expression the singular image cannot. In this workshop, we will delve into the fundamentals of why capturing expression can be challenging, working from subtle expression to the extreme, and how repetition can affect the impact of emotional expression. We will begin with reviewing important anatomical structures, which when once understood, can allow the artist to easily understand the mechanisms that structure expression. From there we will work from the live model and from self-portraits as we quickly develop several working series at once, which can be a very effective way of working on multiples.

Section Three – Sunday September 18


10am to 4pm

$125, $25 materials fee

Capturing psychological states of the human figure can be some of the most exciting ways to work with and experience figurative art. In this workshop, we will work from the live figure model, from self-portraits and from imagination as we jump into the deep end of conveying the human condition, with all of its wonders and pains, and create works that highlight content over subject. We will use Linda Nochlin’s seminal text “The Body in Pieces: The Fragment as a Metaphor for Modernity” as a starting point to discuss how cropping the figure affects contemporary practice of figurative art. We will address problems such as what we as artists are attempting to emotionally/politically/socially/psychologically trying to convey in our art by using the figure as our subject and what are the most effective strategies to express these ideas. We will explore how to balance technique and content to create highly emotive, personal works.

All tuition is due at time of registration. If you need to cancel your place in the Marathon, you can get a refund up until one week before the date of the Marathon, minus a 10% administration fee. If you cancel after that date you will receive a refund of 50% of your registration fees. Registration fees cover ALL materials for the Marathon. Beverages and snackables will be provided throughout the Marathon. Participants are encouraged to bring a sack lunch with them as there are no food options in the area. There is free street parking.

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