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  • Brian 'Bunny' Batista

Have an umbrella

Last night we had a model sitting for our portrait FUNdamentals class. I’m so proud of how well my students did last night. We drew realistic portraits in less than two hours. What is it about the way my students are taught that make them achieve so much in less time?

Drawing a portrait from life
Last nights Portrait drawing FUNdamentals students

I teach a way of seeing and thinking more than just how to handle pencils and brushes. I think it comes down to explaining how to use limited time well to achieve what you set out to do. For example in last nights class I sat and drew along side the students so they could see the necessary steps taken in the time given. In the first 20 min try to get a lay in, in the next sitting map the shadows, then refine and start rendering in each of the following sittings.

Sitting 1 - first 20 min, lay in the map

This may sound more like time management than art making. In a way it is. Artists have to do more in less hours if they want to keep any money in their pockets. By Planning a method of attack, I can enhance my efficiency and effectiveness. Without a plan, things seem go off the rails quickly. If you simply dive in with passion and disregard for thoughtful planning, your chances of achieving what you hope greatly diminish. In most cases all you get is big mess to clean up at the end of the day.

first stage of the portrait, proportions and placement

Pierre-Auguste Renoir writes, “In painting, as in the other arts, there's not a single process, no matter how insignificant, which can be reasonably made into a formula.”


There may not be a single formula for art but there are ways to help you be more creative. In my experience, better planning means better playing. I sweat less when I am systematic. This means before diving in I making lists, do preliminary researching as well as some sketching and thumbnails. These tools go a long way in helping me follow thru. It’s one thing to be an artist who plays open and freely, it is another to show up and get things done.

Sitting 2, refine and start mapping the shadows

Creativity is a balancing act between the two extremes of planning and playing. Creativity an innovation happen most often when there are limitations, constraints and some rules to play by.

Im not saying stop being wildly playful and experimental. There still needs to be room for spontaneous and “happy accidents” to occur. For me, that for me is where a large part of the joy comes from.