Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Portrait workshop with Anthony Connolly

The workshop in the rather lovely Wiltshire countryside last week was most enjoyable and productive.  It is amazing how exhausting these events can be with the intense concentration that is required but whilst I am still processing some of the details I definately came away inspired and keen to see what my next painting will look like.

Needless to say our three models David, Annunziata and Honoria were excellent and I worked on each of their portraits for varying amounts of time.  The four days were well organised and the work took place in a pleasant gallery space with a very friendly group of artists.  Tony didnt do a demo but spent time with each artist in turn many times over during the four days.  I also noticed his advice seemed to be individually  tailored rather than a one size fits all approach.  I found him to be very considered with his comments, studying and thinking carefully, almost as if it were his painting.  His observations and suggestions were often very tiny, but significant.  The devil is definitely in the details!

His guidance was quiet but firm and in retrospect I almost wish I had just done one painting rather than three.  The incremental steps for improvement can be small and subtle and I may have benefited by doing just one long careful study.  Having spent so much time doing figures at the speed of light it would probably have been very good for me to really slow down.   As it is none of these are actually finished - but are they ever?
Needless to say having since looked carefully at the reference photos I took there are many, many errors and 'obvious' (to me now) corrections to make.  I rarely go back an edit anything I have done from life so they are probably going to stay in limbo forever.  Painting an accurate portrait from life is a great challenge. 


I am thinking more and more about different painting techniques and effects and particularly with portraits I think layering will give me what I am looking for.  I revisited Davids portrait on the last day and glazed over some areas and although I wasnt in the same spot to make any major corrections I did like the look of the possibilities.

I'd like to attend again next year, there is much to learn from an artist of Tony's calibre.


  1. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post, Tina, and hearing your thoughts about the workshop. I am thinking of taking another one later this year and you are inspiring me to do it. I think your three life portraits are really fabulous - such wonderful skin tones and delicacy of paint application. I love the frontal painting of the male - the colors in the chin and neck area having me studying the work closely. This portrait is so sensitive and beautifully painted - as are the profiles. Lovely, Tina!

  2. You are too kind Susan, thank you. I am still trying to find myself but I do feel a bit closer now. Any workshops with a top notch artist have got to be worthwhile and they are such fun, I would think you are well placed for access to some of the finest artists in the world - I do think some of the best realist art is coming out of he USA right now and the blogs I have been reading about the Portrait Society of America conference really underline that view. As for colour, well I prefer your unique and exciting colour handling but I do find when one is learning following the guidance of the master at the time is wise. I used a fairly limited palette a few earths a cad red and ultramarine and flake white which is lovely for portraits.