Still Life

Monday, September 17, 2012

Workshop with Amaya Gurpide

Last July, while working on the repeat monster panel, I had the privilege of attending a figure painting workshop with Spanish painter Amaya Gurpide in her studio in Madrid in the evenings. You can read about the career of this young woman in her website, but in a (really small) nutshell, aside from her training here in Spain, she has also honed her skills studying in the traditional atelier method in New York´s Grand Central Academy as well as the Arts Students´ League.  It was a fantastic opportunity for me to absorb knowledge from her as it was to share the 4 weeks in her studio with 5 other young artist students of the Escuela Superior de Dibujo Profesional here in Madrid, where Amaya is a faculty member. She is a talented, indefatigable and selfless teacher, always willing to help and explain with great patience. The experience was well worth the time...

The workshop centered on drawing and painting the figure, focussing mainly on how to exploit values to define and round out the form. After several sessions dedicated to drawing the model in front of us where we were taught/reminded how to "see" and look at the figure, we went on to painting the model in oil, using string of 9 pre-mixed values which were used for the underpainting layers and which were later adjusted in chroma and temperature by using a very limited palette of 6 colors. Perhaps I´ve summarized the process, and there is a lot more to it than what I´ve said here, I hope Amaya doesn´t pull her hair in frustration reading this...

Here is what our palette looked like:

The lower string is the pre-mix of nine values used for skin tones, and you can see the row of 6 colors in the upper row: white (preferably lead white), yellow ochre, cadmium red, raw umber, ultramarine (or cobalt) blue, and ivory black. All you need, really, for just about anything.

And here is a detail of my result after 8 sessions. My hat is off to our model, so utterly professional and patient, and full of good cheer even when she was understandably exhausted.

Another 3 sessions would have been perfect to finish off the painting.  Here is what the whole canvas looked like. It measures 41 x 33 cms. You can see the different phases of underpainting in the mid-section and the lower extremities. It is only the portion shown in the previous photo that I consider complete with all the values corrected, the forms rounded out and the color temperature more or less correct.


  1. I do really enjoy the power of recognition of stunning value and color .๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘Œ