February meeting featured the artistic talents of Victoria Wagner,
demonstrating “Portraiture Techniques in Oil”. Victoria has
been teaching art for 25 years, but she’s been painting for 50!
She currently teaches workshops in oil, acrylic and watercolor at
the Valley Art Center in Chagrin Falls....Thursday though Saturday.
Then, on Mondays Victoria teaches art therapy at a Memory Care
Center. She saves Tuesday as a day that she can just paint for
herself. Even though Victoria uses every kind of medium in her
artwork, her favorite is definitely oil. She enjoys painting
anywhere, outdoors or inside, and quickly. She did a lovely
little oil painting of a vineyard, plein air, in Tuscany, Italy.
She can’t wait to return to Tuscany....“I love sipping wine and
considers everything a portrait, even her beautiful oil painting of
a baby alpaca, which was accepted into the Oil Painters of America.
Her objective for the evening was to complete an oil portrait in
just about an hour. Victoria selected member Kelley Davis from
the audience as her model. As Kelley’s likeness came alive on
the canvas, Victoria gave us many interesting tips. She said
to think colors and shapes, which is reflected in her favorite quote
from Monet: “Try to forget what objects you have before you - a
tree, a house, a field, or whatever (a person). Merely think,
'Here is a little square of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a
streak of yellow,' and paint it just as it looks to you, the exact
color and shape, until it gives you your own impression of the scene
before you.” To reinforce this concept, she has her
students turn their photo reference upside down and paint the
portrait that way!
First, Victoria began with a
charcoal outline for placement on the linen canvas. She used
Willow charcoal. She said, “Don’t us anything with lead in it,
as turpentine (used in oil painting) tends to turn the lead into
gray paint on the canvas.” She suggested painting the portrait
no bigger than life size. When placing the mouth, she said
that the line between the lips is more important than “the lipstick
thing” above and below.
about eyes: think deconstructed, think of the eyeball as a marble
and think of clay or pie crust around it. Then, she said that
the eyes won’t end up looking like cat eyes!
After the charcoal sketch, Victoria stepped away from the canvas and
then ‘slapped it’ with a paper towel to tone down the drawing.
Next, using a mixture of alizarin crimson and brunt umber, she
outlined her sketch with this reddish brown color. At this
point, she said “Kelley, you’re lovely!” Victoria uses dark
colors first and for as long as she can. Then, she moved to
the lighter colors. In this first pass, she thinned her paints
with turpenoid, an odorless turpentine. "Don't add other
mediums to your paints in this first sitting," she said. After
the canvas is covered and you return to the work, you can mix paints
with other mediums, such as linseed oil. Even for the flesh
tones, she started with the darker skin color first....a mixture of
cadmium red and yellow ochre, with a touch of cobalt blue; purple
for the shadows. She reminded us again to “remember shapes”.
eyebrows yet” she said, as they will end up looking like a
caterpillar crawling across the face. Another tip: Victoria
doesn’t allow her students to use black on their palettes.
Make your own black by using opposites on the color wheel or the
triad (three colors evenly spaced around the color wheel).
Using her favorite Filbert brushes (versatile, long, oval shaped and
pointed), she put in the shadow color under the chin, nose and eyes.
She said “the keystone shape between the eyes is always more
shadowed.” If you don’t know what the color is, she suggested
you look at something white and then back at the object. She
can hear her favorite teacher, Jose Cintron, whispering to her “See
a color, put it down!” As she finished the painting, it
was like watching a dance. Her many paint brushes flared
behind her in her left hand, while her right hand stretched forward
and moved across the canvas, blending in the final colors.
Someone in the audience started playing classical music. “I
love playing music while I paint”, she said. It was about an hour
and a half later and the beautiful painting of Kelley was done!...an
amazing likeness. Victoria graciously gave Kelley the finished
to 30 members and guests sat in quiet amazement as we watched
Victoria paint and, of course, we all delighted in the refreshments
afterwards. Valentine’s Day was the theme for the evening’s
refreshments....many thanks to Joan Milligan, Dottie Geisert and
Helen Karpoff. We enjoyed so many delicious
treats....Valentine heart cakes, cream puffs, bacon wrapped chicken,
veggie tray with homemade sour cream dill dip, fresh orange wedges,
assorted cookies, fruit skewers, and cheese & crackers.