Brooke Paints




In the summer of 2010 I enrolled in four week course "Painting the Live Figure in Oil" at the Florence Academy of Art, an atelier run by Daniel Graves with an international reputation for its focus on the traditional painting techniques of the Italian Renaissance. Taught by Stephen Bauman (an alumni of the Academy's painting program) and Vitaliy Shtanko (who, at the time, was in his last year of teacher training and is now a principle instructor of advanced oil painting at the academy) the class had a strict process for creating an oil painting that was quite different from my personal approach. The challenge was mainly one of patience. We spent an entire week painstakingly creating a preparatory drawing before picking up a paintbrush. Using the sight-size method, the basic proportions of the model were determined and clear transitions between light and shadow were delineated using willow charcoal on paper (bottom right image). We then transferred the drawing using tracing paper (bottom left image) onto a canvas that was toned with a mixture of raw umber and distilled turpentine. Our second week was spent blocking-in the composition with a grisaille layer, establishing correct relationships between light and shadow (middle right image). Always "drawing" (re-seeing, re-measuring etc.) by using a plumb line to check vertical alignments and a black mirror for value relationships was of the utmost importance during these beginning stages. We had to work out all the quirks before paying attention to the details. The last week of the class was focused on color and creating both soft and hard edges to build the appearance of three dimensional form in a realistic environment (top right image). I completed my painting "Sylvia" (top left image) on the last day of class and for the first time that July I blessed the scorching heat for drying my canvas so I could take it off its stretecher bars and roll into my suitcase.