Steve Carpenter Workshop December 2018


I took the portrait workshop from Steve once before several years ago. Since I now have more experience painting people from life I figured I would get more out of it this time.

The last time Steve had us draw on newsprint and then transfer it to the canvases we would be painting on. This time he had a specially prepared paper surface for us to paint/charcoal on. I’m not positive what he did to it, but whatever it was it made the charcoal 100% erasable. I’ve never encountered charcoal being this easy to work with. Don’t get me wrong – I still don’t like charcoal but with this paper I could see how someone could enjoy working with it.

IMG_8177IMG_8178IMG_8179 After the charcoal drawings were down (or more precisely when he cut us off from drawing – because as we all know most of us would have noodled the hell out of our drawings for the entire duration of the workshop). We sprayed them with fixative – which made them completely Unworkable from that point forward.

Steve likes to jump in with lots of color. I love how watercolor-ish everything looks at this stage.


Duplicated the process in the afternoon with another model. In theory this should have been easier since we JUST did it that morning. Nope. Humans are always difficult to draw. (well, at least for me).


LOTS of color!

IMG_8187 okay, too much color for me and I lifted some of it back out. IMG_8189IMG_8191 Steve caught me and had me put the color back in. IMG_8192


I spent most of the morning putting color and wiping it off. Putting a different color on and wiping it off. I had started to wonder if I was going to wear through the paper when Steve came along and made some definitive decisions for me.

Physically I was not feeling well at all so I know I was a bit more difficult as a student than normal. Being the awesome instructor that he is Steve was patient with me even though he had no idea what my problem was.


One of the many many times that I changed my mind about the colors that I wanted to use and wiped them off yet again. IMG_8196

Steve’s correction of my indecision. IMG_8198

The afternoon went a little better.I still wasn’t feeling well, but over all was happier with the results on the painting.  IMG_8199IMG_8200IMG_8203



Even though the color choices weren’t what I would have picked (if I could have ever gotten around to making a decision) I decide to leave the colors and work with them. I am here to learn and get outside of my comfort zone.

On a side note the model’s headband was very close in color to her hair. Steve asked us to make more of a color statement and switch it up. Every other student went red. I felt somewhat self conscious about my decision to go yellow – but I still think if I would have “finished” this piece I would have been happier with gold & yellow tones instead of reds.



As any time that I spend with Steve I learned a lot. I went out of my comfort zone. There are a few things that I would like to incorporate into my repertoire.

I actually found that this time the class was much more difficult precisely because I have been doing this on Thursdays for a while now. I have developed habits and an idea of what I want the piece to look like. It made it more uncomfortable to work to someone else’s eye. I was surprised by this as I wouldn’t have thought I was so entrenched in my habits already. Also why I think it was such a good thing that I did this.

Super glad that I took the class. I always learn so much from Steve. (even when I am grouchy)

~ by justteejay on December 12, 2018.

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