Saturday, November 27, 2010

John Ebersberger's Portrait Workshop.

The majority of the paintings you've seen on my blog so far have been landscapes, in oil or watercolor.
But during my career as an Artist I've continued to be fascinated by painting people, whether as a Courtroom Artist, in my sketchbooks, and in my portraits.

Three weeks ago I took a two-day Portrait Workshop in Annapolis, MD, at the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. The instructor was John Ebersberger, holding the white block (above.)

John is a nationally known and respected painter and teacher, and I jumped at this opportunity to study with
him,  and to bring with me my  "Beginner's Mind" for what I knew would be an informative workshop.

 John is dedicated to passing on the painting concepts of "Impressionism," as taught by Charles Hawthorne and Henry Hensche, of  the Cape Cod School of  Art. Here John is showing us the layout of his palette of colors.

 In his demo on the first morning, John emphasized  the importance of doing lots of "Squinting," and focusing on  laying in the masses of the big shapes, ignoring details in the final portrait until the later stages. Here he is doing a quick color study, that preceds the actual portrait.

 There were two models in each of the two studios, each enveloped in the simple beauty of north light.
Here is my initial very rough color study. I was having a ball being a student again!

 During the model's "breaks," John would make various points about form, drawing, and Impressionist color, using his own, and other artist's originals, as examples.

 Here is a finished "demo" of John's, all done with a palette knife.

 And here; a quick charcoal sketch, to make a point about the structure of the model's eye.

 Here is my unfinished portrait, definitely a "work-in-progress," at the end of the day on Sunday. None of us came with the intention of doing "finished" portraits; just many "starts." John did his critiques, we scraped passages out, re-painted, focused on getting those "masses," and ultimately, the subtle shifts of color within.

 Finally; a beautiful demo by the Master, Henry Hensche, owned by John.
I got exactly what I wanted from this workshop. A chance to loosen-up, to meet other artists with like interests, and to be exposed to John's thoughts on Art and Portraiture. Now; to put it to use in my own paintings, and teaching.


  1. Hmmm...interesting
    The model is decidely Vermeerian...the lighting, the values etc.
    Interesting to see your paintings next to her.
    Did you do a value study sketch?
    Will you show it to us?
    THANKS for taking us along!

  2. I take that back.
    The model is very Ingres
    Very value-oriented.
    Just squint.

  3. I can definitely relate to this post! About 2 years ago, I took a 5-day workshop with Camille Prezwodek (from CA), another student of Hensche. It was a plein air workshop in Easton, MD and was aptly named "Color Boot Camp". For the first four days, from 9am-4pm, we painted block color studies in light and shade. Then the last day we concentrated on a portrait study (did he use the reference "mud face"?). It was one of the most enlightening weeks of my painting career and I made some wonderful friends along the way. I am continuing my study of color and light at Studio Incamminati in Philly. This atelier follows the same principles as Hawthorne and Hensche. I LOVE being a student again, too!!