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Tackle portrait painting with oils

This workshop is about creating a portrait oil painting with meaning. It’s also about my idea for a series that dealt with the decline of academic principles and beauty in art.

It started with a painting titled After the Dance, done in 2017. The ‘dance’ referred to the amazing period of artistic creation at the end of the 19th century, when Sargent, Bouguereau, Waterhouse and Leighton were all at the top of their game. The 20th century saw some incredible innovations and diversity in art, but for me didn’t offer as much beauty or skill as the 19th century. I wanted to express my passion for the principles espoused by the artists I love and apply it to a series.

We don’t know what kind of art will be created in our future, but I do see a trend towards beauty, craft and skill that wasn’t sustainable through the middle of the last century. I started the series by looking at the artists I admire and picking out qualities I wanted to capture. I’ve been collecting books over my career that I turn to regularly. It is important to surround yourself with inspiration.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s Seated Nude (public domain)

I like to start the day going through photos I’ve taken of inspiring paintings or browsing my books. I have always been drawn to William- Adolphe Bouguereau and in this case the face of the woman in his painting Seated Nude stood out as something I wanted to study further.

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