Live oil painting demonstration – the making of “Gondolier in Venice”


On Wednesday I did a live oil painting demonstration at the Jerry’s Artarama in Tempe, near Phoenix, to promote my oil painting classes and workshops that I teach there. Here is the finished painting I did live for the demo:

Gondolier-in-Venice - original Venice, italy oil painting by artist christopher clark fine art, oil painting workshops and classes in phoenix

Here’s a photo of the demonstration itself. This painting demonstration came complete with karaoke party, since I will usually sing absentmindedly with the background music in the store, to the surprised entertainment of my students.

class - photo from oil painting classes and workshops in phoenix by artist christopher clark art

I begin every painting with a value study, done as a charcoal drawing. This helps me establish the drawing (or construction) of the painting, solve any problems early on, and establish my desired values.

charcoal drawing for oil painting class and workshop by artist christopher clark art

Here is the initial underpainting, done with a simple color palette that I decide upon with each painting. It’s usually only 3 colors. My goal is to get a semi-colored version of the charcoal sketch, with the same intention of establishing the main drawing elements, values, and then some general color notes. This is done with a lot of solvent (turpenoid in this case), and no opaque paint yet. In this demo I explained a lot about the properties of oil paint and how it refracts light. There are reasons why you start a painting with washes like this, instead of using opaque paint right on a white canvas. You should take my class if you’d like to know what those reasons are 🙂

1 - christopher clark oil painting workshop class in phoenix

The demonstration was only for 2 hours, and with all the explaining and questions, this is about where I had to wrap it up in the store. One of the ladies really wanted to see me start painting the water, so while it wasn’t in the order I might have normally approached it, I decided to oblige and start working on it.

1-and-a-half - live oil painting demonstration, for oil painting classes and workshops in phoenix by artist christopher clark art

Here’s a bit more filled in, as I was finishing the painting up in my home studio. I love doing Italian architecture (and old buildings in general), because adding distress effects, faded paint, broken plaster, and exposed brick is really fun.

2 - oil painting workshops and art classes by christopher clark fine artist

At this stage in the painting, I felt like the buildings and such were too warm to fit properly with the intense amount of blue in the water. If the sky was that cool and blue to reflect those kinds of colors, the buildings would oblige as well and reflect some of that cool color. So after this stage, I started cooling off the warm colors a bit.

3 - live painting demonstration for oil painting workshops and classes by artist christopher clark in phoenix

And here’s the finished painting, “Gondolier in Venice”, 16×20″

Gondolier-in-Venice - original Venice, italy oil painting by artist christopher clark fine art, oil painting workshops and classes in phoenix

The audience member who asked me to paint the water was right to want to see that part come to life, as I think it’s really the main character in this piece (which is one reason why I chose this scene). Painting that part was extremely challenging, as I had to negotiate the reflections of the adjacent buildings, the shadow cast by the building on the right, and the color of the water itself. But the results are quite lovely.

Contact me to purchase this original oil painting of Venice, Italy. Also contact me to attend my oil painting workshops and classes.

And because I know someone who loves to see my palette at the end of a painting, I obliged here and snapped a photo just before I cleaned up:

palette - oil painting class and workshop by oil painter and artist christopher clark art

Oh and incidentally, part of my classes focuses on how to maintain a simple color palette, how to arrange your paints logically on your palette, and how to keep your paints and palette clean to avoid color contamination – while at the same time, how to use residual paint in your brush to facilitate gradual color gradations and unexpected color. So take my painting workshops and take your painting to the next level.

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