Katharina Gifford | Coming next week: Steven Assael Workshop and NYC!
Contemporary Maine Realist Portrait Painter
Maine portrait painter, Portland, Maine, contemporary realist painter, oil on canvas, drawings, portraits, still life, figurative art
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Coming next week: Steven Assael Workshop and NYC!

A week from today I will be in one of my favorite cities in the world (NYC) to take a 5-day figure painting workshop taught by the one and only Steven Assael.

I’m beyond psyched for this workshop for many many reasons. Naturally it’s exciting to be taking some sort of class again, to have nothing to do all week but paint and explore the best city ever, but what really adds to all that is that it is with this artist.

I have been following his work since Fall 2003 (I could probably pinpoint the actual day if I dug around in my college notes enough), when I was so discouraged from what I was doing at MECA. What I had imagined I would be taught at an art college only months prior was not what was panning out. I had naturally thought that I was going to be really taught how to draw something standing in front of me. Instead I was being offered basic foundation courses, where basically we were encouraged to just do something cool. Needless to say I was super disappointed, and I wondered, is this really all there was to instruction in art? So I sat down in the computer lab in a huff one afternoon, and did some online research (no, the library was no help, I tried earlier). There were then just bits and pieces of information about far away schools that were called ‘ateliers’ and students who were working semi-privately under a ‘master artist’. All of this terminology was defining everything I was imagining that I needed to learn – figurative, realism, classicalism, traditional, etc. – and it was mind expanding. This all created a sort of spark of hope that just kept growing, and I just kept looking for more. I found the Art Renewal Center, I found Juliette Aristides, I found Pietro Annigoni and Nelson Shanks, I found the Water Street Atelier and thus Jacob Collins. And then I found Steven Assael and the New York Academy of Figurative Art (now the New York Academy of Art). Out of all the work I was seeing, Steven’s work stood out because of it’s beauty but also it’s contemporary subjects. I immediately wanted to transfer to NYAA, but it being a graduate school I was a few years off. From that time on, a fire had been set in me and I continued to search for instruction in this “realism” and figurative painting I kept seeing was happening. It led me to finding the Florence Academy of Art (which I attended 3 years later), and the rest is history. So, needless to say being able to work alongside Steven has been a long time coming.

Now, having gotten a few emails from Steven’s awesome assistant, we (other workshop attendees and myself) have gotten our supply list for the workshop. These past few weeks I haven’t been as giddy since….well, not sure when! I couldn’t wait to get this list. In looking at the paints that we needed to bring, I think I used normally about 4, the rest were new or new variations on what I already use currently. The two different ‘brown pinks’ are the ones I’m most intrigued about!

Another set of items on the list include panels and what they are to be primed with. A cadmium red light or Naples red. I’m pumped, I’ve been working on transparent oxide red canvases for a while now so I’m excited to be working on a bright colored background. I worked on getting those primed last night:

I will try to post while I’m at the workshop, but either way a post-workshop post will be in the works. I’m bringing my notebook and am looking forward to taking copious notes. I feel like I’m about to go on a type of journey. I mean, I don’t think I am going to fan-girl it out, but it’s going to be great to meet such a great painter…

While I’m in NYC of course, I will be totally geeking out. The Met, Whitney, the Frick, etc. will all see my face at some point. Can’t wait to see their exhibits and maybe talk about them!

So stay tuned!

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