Posrtrait of a yound woman in a bold style
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Back Home in the Studio – Monster Portrait, More Charcoal, and Still Life

Back home in the studio, I found myself challenged with the next level of lessons with the Milan Art Institute. The lessons touched on a variety of techniques in portraiture and still life. I thought I’d have an easy time of it but learned that thinking something would be easy at the outset didn’t always turn out that way.

Monster Portrait

I wasn’t sure what to expect given the title of this lesson. Maybe it was a Halloween theme? It turned out the description comes from just how much my portrait would resemble something monstrous, at least early on. The lesson starts with applying great blobs of paint using only eight brushstrokes to capture the hair and face. The eyes are painted with large swatches of dark paint and the mouth is a wide slash of red. Unfortunately, I didn’t capture this step in a photo, but it looks something like this.

After that, you take some type of tool to scrape away the features and start to sculpt the portrait. Mine looked like this:

Pretty scary, huh? The next steps were to apply paint using a stacking technique, bold colors, and to not blend the colors much. I’m not sure I totally grasped and applied the concept, but the result isn’t half bad.

Oil Still Life #1

I must admit I am not a big fan of still life paintings. I think the point here is to draw from life and to play with various shapes and textures. I had a deer skull in the backyard I thought could be interesting. I added a wooden angel statue and a rubber duckie.

After painting on it for some time, I began to regret that choice. The same with the flowers in the vase. And why did I include a rubber duckie?

Charcoal Still Life

The next lesson was to do a still life in charcoal. I opted to use the same composition I had set up for the oil painting. I’m not sure why they didn’t put this lesson before the oil painting lesson, as I learned some things that would have helped with the oil painting, such as how to make the angel statue more recognizable. Still not sure how I feel about charcoal, though.

Oil Still Life #2

In this lesson we were advised to pick different options and try to incorporate something reflective. This was a struggle for me to capture the correct proportions and to really highlight the reflective properties of the jar and the vase and the tin box.


I am sticking to the program and trying to not get too hung up on perfectionism. I think that’s part of the concept behind the Mastery Program – to push you to keep on task and to not spend too much time on any one painting or drawing. Next week is supposed to be a break week and I can really use it. I still have one more charcoal still life and anoil still life before I can say I finished this section. I may try to fit in one of the lessons from Kaleidoscope 2023 and have some fun with my art!

Thank you for reading my blog and following my journey.

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