Transcending The Photo Reference In Paint

Deadline July 31, 2023

A 4-day workshop held in the beautiful Edna Valley, Central Coast, California just a short 10 minute drive from the Pacific Ocean and surrounded by vineyards. This intensive oil painting workshop will be led by Alyssa Monks – a successful New York artist who is known for her visceral self-portraits expressing the vulnerability of the collective human experience.

This workshop is designed to guide the students toward creating a painting from a photo reference, using both indirect and direct traditional painting techniques. It aims to instruct painters on how to use the photograph to create a painting that surpasses the look of the photograph, not simply imitates a photograph.

The workshop will explain how to create a useful photo reference, covering topics such as ideal lighting camera settings, lenses, Photoshop, and printing. The process will begin with preparations such as choosing a composition through quick sketches from a variety of reference photos, progressive oil sketches with limited use of the photograph, and then laying in the composition with an imprimatura wash. When that is dry, the students will learn to create color relationships that portray the space and volume, creating the illusion. Emphasis is then placed on paint application and ways of activating the surface. By focusing on deliberate brush stroke and maintaining accurate color relationships rather than rendering, the application of paint to describes the form. We will accentuate the structural volumes of the form over the contour, concentrating on relating all parts of the picture to each other with an organized palette. From there, students will be guided towards deciding what information is useful to look for and what usual pitfalls to avoid when interpreting a photograph. Deciding when and how to invent and experiment is perhaps the most crucial part of the process. Students will be encouraged to look more at the painting itself than the photographic source, using it only for initial reference.

A limited number of attendees will have the option to stay on site on the 14 acre retreat. It this is your preference then go to and reserve your room.

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