Click for movie of still life setups.Having been now to two Ovanes Berberian workshops, and realizing that lots of readers plan to attend as well (some this week), I thought I’d provide some suggestions for a successful workshop:

  • Most days, Ovanes doesn’t get out to look at his student’s work until 2-3pm. I tended to paint quick color studies in the morning, and take a long lunch break (with nap!). When I returned to paint larger studies around 2PM, he was there to help. Leave your early morning work by your easel so he can see those as well.
  • Although the materials list you’ll get says to take very large canvas, I don’t recommend it. First, you’re painting still life studies under trees and the light is shifting all the time. It’s much better to paint lots of smaller starts and show them to Ovanes. If you want to paint larger, setup outside the apple orchard: if you’re facing Ovanes’ house, this is the area to the far left, near the parking area. This area has a lot less light variation and will give you the time to paint large.
  • Due to the shifting light, I suggest you paint everything in shadow/mid-tone, and then add your lights in the last 10% of the painting. This works well for flowers, but less so for the table top and background, which you may need to scrape and repaint at the end to avoid chalky or muddy colors.
  • Apparently, Damar Varnish was left off the materials list. Remember, if you want to tone your canvas like Ovanes, bring Phthalo Blue, Black, Linseed Oil (1/8) and remaining 50% Damar Varnish, and Gum Spirits Turpentine (don’t use an odorless substitute in your medium).
  • Again, I would take lots of 8×10 – 9×12 to paint quick color and block-in studies, and a few larger (12×16 to 16×20) to paint a few finished pieces.
  • The suggested materials lists a LOT of color. You really don’t need them all, and if you’re not familiar with them, will likely not have success. I suggest you bring one warm, one cool for each color hue. If you’re really a beginner, suggest bringing Cad Yellow Light, Phthalo Blue, Quinacridone Red, Black and White. He’ll describe this basic starting palette in the Monday morning lecture.
  • Ovanes’ assistant Vickie Reese offers a tour of her nearby studio on Thurs. While her studio is great, this is actually a great time to get Ovanes’ time. He’s shy, so typically when everyone piles into their cars for this tour, he’ll come out when there are only a few dedicated folks left. I got lots of quality time with him then.
  • When Ovanes does come out, follow him around and listen and watch him paint on other students canvas. Sure, you want him to critique your own work, but it’s just as valuable to witness his work with others.
  • Bring several paintings (3-4) to the Friday afternoon (5PM) critique. He spends a lot of time on these, and the information is really valuable. You’ll probably get more time in this critique with Ovanes than you will during the week outside. Also realize that Ovanes will be much more critical of the better painters, and will offer less praise. He tends to want to really push the better painters forward, and offer lots of praise to novices so as to not discourage them.
  • For the Tuesday and Thursday night demos–be prepared for a late night (12-1am). The demos are really amazing. John tapes each one and makes them available in DVD format by the end of the week.
  • Want to see what the still life setups look like, click the photo above for a movie.

Have you attended an Ovanes Berberian workshop? Please chime in with your own tips using the comments feature. Want to prepare for your workshop in advance? My sponsor, Virtual Art Academy is run by Barry John Raybould, who also studied with Ovanes. His online, self-study courses are great. Click here to learn more.

Update: To get on the email list to attend a Ovanes Berberian workshop, contact Ray Morrison:






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