Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

You can send an email to [email protected] if you have questions about how to use this forum.

My workshop painting and charcoal WIP from Ravenswood atelier

Hello everyone,

I recently did a painting workshop at the Ravenswood atelier in Chicago. They have a very different style of painting from the DMP method, which is painting in layers. We painted from a live model for 3 hrs, 5 days a week for 2 weeks. According to my teacher ( a very sweet and patient lady, Magdalena Almy), this is too little time for a really refined painting in this style (especially for beginners). I wouldn't call my painting finished as there are multiple places i would have loved to work on if i had more time. The photo shows the progress (from phone, and so bad quality). Only used 4 colors, ivory black, cad red, flake white and yellow ochre. The model was lit from above with natural light coming from a skylight.

I am also doing a charcoal workshop right now, only 4 days in and 4 more to go. Many things need working on from face to shading, here are some photos of that too. Measurement only using plumb line.

The atelier itself looks truly amazing, so beautiful works by students hung all around. (These aren't in the website though). Dark paint everywhere, old rugs everywhere, life size paintings. The teachers are a member of the art renewal community. sadly their best works are hanging in the walls of the atelier and not on the website. I just wish I could share the ambience with you all. I am so awe-struck, star-struck, inarticulate, right now  :s


(progress photos in attachment)



  • These are fantastic!  Have you seen Jennifer Marie's series on youtube?  She was a student there and documented almost every week and exercise - it was fascinating.  The paintings were all so beautiful.
  • @Julianna : yes I do follow her on you tube.... her latest still life set-up was still there when we started the workshop... her works are also on the walls
  • anwesha

    I am very impressed. Such dedication and virtuosity is admirable. Beautiful work.
    When you say plumb line only, is that in conjunction with sight sizing?
    The canvas and the model are in the same plane and your measurements are made about three metres away from both.
    I regularly attend life drawing classes and often sigh with exasperation when a pose ends in two, ten, or twenty minutes.  Thirty hours sounds like artistic luxury.


  • edited August 2018
    Thank you @dencal !
    yes, plumb line and sight and size... for both life drawing and the drawing to drawing...

    Their method of drawing and painting for the workshop was less for practice and more towards creating something very accurate.. with adding a whole set of layers  everyday .... i think they also have practice sessions where they do the quick drawing like you mentioned.
  • edited August 2018
    @anwesha, that nude is amazingly good. The subtle gradations in value are just  wonderful.  The small drawing is excellent, too. Thanks for posting the progress shots of the painting so we can see how you started rough and gradually refined the figure to arrive at that amazing smoothness of the skin tones. :)
  • I wish I could paint like the students. Your work is fabulous as always! There are two questions:

    1. Pencil: How do they get those extreme darks? What do they use?
    2. Colors in paintings: choice of colors?
  • I'm so glad that you are getting this atelier experience. This will help you unlock that wonderful talent we all know you have. Your work there is extraordinary, even for you.
  • edited August 2018
    @tassieguy , @Kaustav , @BOB73 : Thank all so much!

    The experience of having an excellent teacher guide you is so great... someone to slow you down and teach you to look where you ignored.... teach you to see the bigger picture... its your own hand that's creating it but the results are what I could have never achieved by myself...

    Now for the materials @Kaustav , we are using only charcoals Nitram H, B and HB. The charcoal has a long history and its what the teachers here and in their former schools in Europe liked to use. The darks were mostly made by using B, in layers... probably more layers to go in for the hair..
    For the colours in painting we just used the 4 colours I mentioned in the post i guess because for skin tones these 4 would suffice. we could make blue or the cooler tone from the black, and pinkishness from the orange.. and yellow ochre for slight warmth.. the company was Williamsburg handmade oil paints.
  • Those 4 colours are pretty much the same as the Zorn palette.
  • How lovely. This is how I would like to learn. beautiful work @anwesha
  • Great work. Very impressive!

  • PaulBPaulB mod
    Very impressive.  Ever see a painting and you don't even know how it was achieved?  This is one.
  • thank you @PaulB ; ... it was something i never did in my paintings... blend blend blend.. everyday =)
  • @anwesha, your work is fantastic!
  • a little update from the charcoal workshop that's over.. this was the progress photo till the 2nd last day.... had kept work on the head and highlights on the body for the last day.... I was not completely done when the workshop was over and on the travel back, much of the darkest darks were lost as the charcoal powder from those places fell off from all the jerking on the road.. I'll post a final photo when I'm done. One thing I was warned is that correct your proportions before you start the shadings and value additions. Using the plumb line was a little tough and I tried my best  but some proportions are off and I couldn't do much about it. 

    Some advices I received when I said I'll study on my own was practice, practice, practice:
    1) from books like Vanderpoel, Charles Bargue and Bridgemann. Vanderpoel, the older version is better that the new ones. I could not find one cheap older version online in amazon, but the library had one really old and in great condition (libraries never fail to surprise me). 

    2) large charcoal drawings from enlarged photos of work from Bargue book/ master drawings from where ever you can find.

    (one link for some charcoal drawings is  , need some manual research to find the drawings within this link)

    3) for the board on which the drawings were done, they said heavy particle boards can be used (heavy ones will not warp easily, but buy something that your easel can support the weight of). You can always get drawing boards from the art store though.

    4) Copying paintings of masters. I would say start from simple ones to more complicated gradually and better to go back to a painting after a few days rather than paint too fast and start a new one.

    5) Better to do pieces the size same as the original paintings to get close to the type of brushstrokes, effects etc. Also , surprisingly, the larger the painting, the more mistakes you can hide.

    6) Get high resolution images. you can find some in the ARC archives:
    If someone knows other archives, do share here.

    7) Good prints can be made from vistaprint.

    At the atelier, final year students have to finish a large painting by them selves without help from the teacher. A student had painted,  the lady of the Shalott, life size. I was unable to distinguish.. it was sooooo good, huge and over-whelming..

Sign In or Register to comment.