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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?

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.

Sitting 3 refinement and rendering

We often use the terms “push” and “pull” - when you create focus on one area and balance it with another. When Im teaching it is most often not the area a student is struggling with and obsessing over that needs repair but something outside of their focus that will solve their problems. We all get hyper focused and trapped in the details losing a vision of the whole. that fist vision is what should be defined in the planning stage. That way you have a general map of where to come back to when things go off track.

Just keep going until your time runs out

As artists, we journey through the ups and downs of making marks and mistakes without a universal formula. We are translating ideas, thoughts and feelings into an image. Unlike the scientific method, which is empirical, logical, measurable, and can be tested at every step along the way, the artistic method is far less quantifiable. Like cooking it is helpful to have a recipe to guide you but with roof for improvement and fun. If you make this a bit more systematic each time you will find you get to where you're going quicker and with better results.


Try your hand at being systematic. Have an outline or plan before you jump in, practice often and let the artistic muse guide the rest of the way. This is like having an umbrella to protects your work below.

Our semester begins shortly so act now, Our Portrait FUNdamentals course starts Tuesday April 9, register today.

If you are looking for a systematic approach and a well thought out process for learning how to improve and to get yourself on the path to mastery in your observational art we have a ton of classes that will help you.


Our semester begins shortly so act now, register for your spot: https://www.atelierartista.com/shop


My thanks and gratitude,

Brian “Bunny” Batista

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