Friday, September 14, 2012

The Last Day with Jeff Watts

Copy of Dan Gerhartz Portrait

I'm jumping ahead to the last day of the Jeff Watts workshop to spare you my growing pains and frustrations with myself.  I always tell myself that if a workshop seems easy and I produce really good work with each project, I'm probably not pushing myself enough.  Suffice to say that all my work during my week with Jeff was not beautiful.  But I did have many "Aha" moments.  Here are a few of them:

SLOW DOWN.  Loose painterly paintings just look as if they were created quickly.  In fact, it takes a lot of time and thought to interpret a painting rather than just copy what's in front of you.

THINK ABOUT WHAT'S BENEATH THE SURFACE.  In figurative and portrait work, understanding the anatomy under the skin solves many problems.

USE MORE PAINT.  Skimpy paint makes wimpy paintings (OK, that's my quote, but I learned it with Jeff).  Illumination happens with generous thick paint.

PAINT ABSTRACTIONS.  Look for abstract shapes everywhere and paint them.  The end result is a painting that is interesting to look at.

USE SMALLER BRUSHES.  Loose paintings can look as if they were created with large swaths of paint applied with large brushes.  Often, they are not.  Paint small abstractions and meld them together in the last phase of painting.  This will give you a controlled approach which will be more successful.

I hope that you enjoyed my workshop notes with Jeff Watts.  He certainly inspired me to push myself and my painting in new directions.  I would certainly recommend his workshops to you!


  1. Beautiful!! Love the feeling in this painting.
    Thank you for the great notes from your Jeff Watts workshop. Really interesting.

    1. Thank you Cathy. I'm glad that you're enjoying the posts!

  2. The painting looks good.Time and patience is the key to your
    success. Micro-movements matter. Nicoli Fechin painted many
    heads, see his book if you can. I heard some where that Sargent
    would paint a hand in so many brushstrokes and if it did not
    look right , he would wipe it off and do it again.
    One thing about making art is, you do get a do over.
    You have good skills, stop fretting. I say this with care.

    1. I had been meaning to buy a Fechin book for quite sometime now, so I went ahead and did it! Thanks so much for your comments and support, Bob.

  3. I just wrote this tips down in my notebook. I think they will be useful. I plan to start with generous paint application and abstract shapes.

    1. I'm so happy that you found my notes to be of use Jo. Happy Painting!!!

  4. Ann, I saw this painting on Daily Paintworks, in the daily email, and it stopped me in my tracks! It's a beautiful portrait...full of life and sweetness. Thanks for your insights into the workshop with Jeff Watts. I have long admired his work, so maybe one day I will get to take a workshop with him too.

  5. This is fantastic. Sounds like you learned a lot and made lots of progress.
    Happy Painting.

  6. First, I thank you for your generosity in sharing this really interesting information and next, let me tell you you did a fabulous job with your studies.
    Love the copy of the Gerhartz portrait. I recognized it right away. I have taken twice with him and he had us copy a Sargent. I learned so much.