Friday, December 13, 2013

Charles Cecils Paint Grinding Method and Recipe

Portrait of Emanuele by Jean-Antoine Norbert 2013

[Video coming soon]

A kind thanks to artist Jean-Antoine Norbert for giving the demonstration and sharing the information he learned during his 2013 workshop at Charles Cecil studio in Florence (and the homemade pizza).

Cecil Palette:
Vermillion Red
Ivory Black
Persian Red
Yellow Ochre

Cecil Medium:
25% Canadian Balsam oil
25% Sun-thickened linseed oil
50% Thinner*

*Fist painting use slightly more thinner, for subsequent layers use the same medium.

Grinding materials:
Grinding pestle
2 pieces of glass (previous coated with adhesive and white sand for grit) (one of colors and one for white) mounted on boards (white background recommended to see better during cleaning)
Linseed Oil
Mineral spirits
Paper towels

Maestro (Michael John Angel):
To get a pure black: use a high quality pigment and grind everyday for 15 minutes for a year.

Paint away.

(la balcone piccola a Firenze)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The First 20 Hours to Learning How To Do Anything

10,000 hour rule only applies to professionals in a highly specific skill and field of study. 
45 minutes a day for one month - learn anything to a level of proficiency.

Make those 45 minutes effective:
1. Deconstruct your desired skill. Clearly define what you want to be able to do when finished. Discover what small incremental skills which make up the resulting skill. 
2. Learn enough to self-correct
Get 3-5 resources/tools on subject (books, dvds, courses, etc) Do not finish, just gather enough information to self-edit. 
3. Remove distractions (TV, internet...). Sit down, tell yourself "just 5 minutes" get sucked in and do the work for 45 minutes, then move on. 
4. Practice at least 20 hours. Stick to it to overcome frustration phase to reach satisfying results. 

Obviously, give more time to the main priority and then allow time each day for supportive studies or creative expression.

My primary life skill that I want to take to a level of mastery is drawing and painting portraits and the human figure to create large allegorical oil paintings. Breaking this down entirely would take too much time, so one aspect of that is anatomy:
Goal: understand anatomical influences behind the physical appearance of the human figure. 
Main elements: skeleton, muscles, veins, and accompanying terminology
45 minutes a day: 
Day 1 - copy entire skeleton and learn names of major sections (skull, trunk, pelvic girdle..). 
Day 2 - copy section one and learn terminology for smaller parts (frontal, maxillary, mandible...)
So on and so forth. Teach what you learned to someone else to receive 90% benefit/retention of what you're learning. Make and keep it fun!

Life's a grind...but we need that to make flour, to make bread, and bread is good. 


Friday, August 2, 2013

Martinho Correia Summer Portrait Workshop Review

Portrait Workshop - sight-size live-model
Instructor: Martinho Correia (speaks English, Italian, and learning Portugese)
Location: Florence, Italy at Angel Academy of Art, cast studio
Dates: 15 - 26 August, 2013       9:30-12:30, 13:30-16:30 Monday-Friday

This overview is just a little taste of the actual experience. I highly recommend taking the workshop in person because nothing can replace the one-on-one instruction and being in that focused environment; more information is revealed and the external time limit helps put a necessary amount of pressure in order to mentally process and apply the techniques quickly, which otherwise might be neglected when attempting alone. Besides, there is also the added benefit of camaraderie and support when your previous habits are rebelling against the new approach. Be patient with yourself and the process. The closer you focus on listening and applying exactly what is being said and shown the easier you will catch your mistakes in action and get a more satisfying final result.

Typically throughout the workshop, especially during demos, the students use sketchpads to keep visual (doodles) and verbal notes and take photos (please ask permission first before photographing models or other's artwork) for future reference when practicing or finishing up at home. Keep handouts to reference during workshop and afterwards. The studio space is setup with storage, work surface, and seating at your easel station. At one end in a large table setup with mediums, paper towels, plastic wrap and other basic needs. Demos would be conducted either at an easel or the large table. A board of reference images is always on display and a large projected slideshow accompanies the lecture. Martinho teaches the entire painting process. Everything is covered from initial setup to the varnishing stage - what materials and how to use, how to think about and see your painting/subject better, how to resize painting, preservation and care tips, and how to transport back home.

Martinho Correia has a Fine Arts Degree from the University of Calgary, Education degree from British Colombia University, Master's degree from the European University in Rome, completed the program and taught at Angel Academy of Art, and has teaching experience since the mid-eighties.
Martinho is relaxed, funny, and gracious. He is very knowledgeable, methodical, and well-organized. He helps you keep on track, explains the process clearly and is always available to help you through a problem area or clear up any confusion. The mood in the studio is lighthearted and focused. Either at the end of the first week or the end of the workshop, Martinho organizes a dinner at the authentic italian restaurant I Tarocchi and the final day of class is celebrated with a shared bottle of wine. You can expect to come away from the workshop well-prepared to continue painting in this style or easily adapt it into your own.
To see his work and find out more, visit:

Stay up-to-date by checking into the Angel Academy of Art website in the Spring for next year's workshops. Martinho will be teaching the methods of a modern day contemporary artist, showing how to work partly with a live model and from a photograph.

How to Care for Paintbrushes Properly

First-rinse brushes in container of mineral spirits, Second-rinse in another, [3-rinse in linseed oil, 4th-rinse in clean mineral spirits,] wash in warm soap and water. I skip 3rd and 4th rinses if I am working everyday. I will do those steps when not painting for several days and also reshape them and let dry with a little conditioner or olive oil.

Seal new palettes with 2-3 coats of linseed oil before use. Either rub paint into palette or wash off with mineral spirits. I like to occasionally reapply a little linseed oil.

(More detailed description coming soon)

Defined by a Word: Daily Definitions (Effusive)

effusive |iˈfyo͞osiv|

1 expressing feelings of gratitude, pleasure, or approval in an unrestrained or heartfelt manner: an effusive welcome.

How to express your gratitude without erring on "gushing"? Be specific with compliments and use appropriate words. Over-exaggerated compliments can seem insincere.