I recently returned from an advanced portrait painting workshop held in Nashville, TN conducted by Michael Shane Neal. Shane is an accomplished painter who has already completed many important portrait commissions. He paints in a style that is a direct descendant of that of John Singer Sargent. He is a student of Everett Raymond Kinstler who studied with Frank V. DuMond who knew Sargent. DuMond also taught James Montgomery Flagg and Mr. Kinstler became Mr. Flagg’s best friend in final years of that venerable artist’s life.
The Sargent style is relatively loose, a brushy style that allows an artist to be both committed to the smooth transitions of value and color within the modeling of features and the center of interest in a piece but be free to lay down expressive brushstrokes in the same painting.
I like this style, but as an artist who has spent most of his career as an airbrush illustrator, and now finds line caricatures as his main source of income, becoming a “brushy” painter is something of a challenge. Not to mention getting a likeness without falling too far into caricature. (Sargent is reported as saying there is an element of caricature in every successful portrait.)
Shane teaches two levels of workshops. I’ve taken his basic workshop the last two summers and learned a lot in both sessions. To be accepted for the advanced workshop you have to have been in one of his basic classes or submit samples so he can see you don’t require going over the basics of painting. The workshop begins on Sunday nights with a get-together session wherein Shane begins a portrait from life and with further sittings and photo reference, he will develop that portrait throughout the week during the lecture/demo portions of each day. Here are some shots of that demo painting throughout the week. Starting with a photo of the model:
That’s Michael Shane Neal, cleaning his brushes after a demo during one of the daily sessions.
Here is a photo of the model I was painting. (I was in the set up on the left of the above photo.)
And here’s the painting;