Friday, March 16, 2012

Recap: Judith Carducci Workshop, January 2012

- Originally posted to the Texas Portrait Network blog for TX members of the Portrait Society of America -

So, it's already been almost two months, but I have been meaning to write about this workshop. Almost immediately following my workshop in Scottsdale with Nancy Guzik, I attended this one with Judith Carducci here in Dallas. Judy is one of the Portrait Society of America's most esteemed faculty members. If you've ever had the opportunity to learn from her, or hear her speak at PSOA conferences, you know that Judy is a firm believer in working exclusively from life. Because of her purist dedication to life drawing and painting, and her passion for her craft, Judy's work is incredibly strong and vibrant. She is also a great storyteller and for every point she makes in her teaching, she can give an example from her wealth of experience. Personally, I have gained a great deal from her instruction and advice, and I hope that if you get a chance to study with her, you will take advantage of the opportunity! She is a great artist and person, but... she won't let you off easy. Prepare to be challenged! The 14 of us who took her January workshop in Dallas, certainly were!

Here are some pictures from the 5-day workshop.

Judy at the beginning of her demo, day 1. The model was WWII veteran, Jim.

Explaining the anatomy of the ear.

Measuring the length of the face.

Judy's finished charcoal demo of Jim (with a sketch of eye - part of her demonstration of the anatomy of facial features)

Our wonderful host was Michael Mentler, head of the Society of Figurative Arts. The workshop took place at his studio (samples of his artwork in the background). I really love this shot of him! :-)

Judy would demo in the morning, and then the students got their shot at it in the afternoon to impliment what they learned. Above: artist Christen Benat, working on a profile view.

The first day was focused primarily on values, so we stuck to black and white, or in my case, brown and white. Here is my little monochromatic sketch of Jim, in oil on canvas. I only used Rembrandt's transparent oxide brown and white.

The model for day #2: Sylett, an artist's model with 30 years of experience! Judith really enjoyed doing this demo for us, and we enjoyed watching! She was working on a brand new line of Canson pastel board, courtesy of Canson via Michael Mentler (Michael represents their brand).

The finished demo. A solid, colorful, and exciting portrait!

The students hard at work.

My little 12x9 profile study of Sylett.

 Michael Mentler posed for Judy on day 4.

She began and finished the portrait in charcoal, realizing early on that it didn't need any color; it was already a strong impression! 

The finished portrait of Michael... or should I say, Gandalf the wizard? (Sorry, Michael, couldn't resist!)

Our afternoon model, Buck, was no less exciting! Here he is posing with a wolf skin hat, turquoise jewelry, and a staff. 

Artist Rebecca McClure off to a very strong start. You could really feel the energy in the room!

An exciting rendition by Ellen Moore.

 Here's mine. I really took Judy's advice to heart: no matter where you are positioned in front of the model, find something you LOVE about the pose and run with it!I loved the backlighting on the furry hat, as well as the mysterious shadow that the rim cast over Buck's eyes.

On the last day of the workshop, Judy did a self-portrait as her demo. 

The progression was very exciting to watch! We all sat riveted and humbled by her masterful execution of the self portrait.  

Here it is finished. One of the students purchased this piece.

Finally, a group photo (sans two of the students, Carole Fadal and Connie Erickson -- we missed you, ladies!), with Judy holding her magnificent portrait.

Here's what Judith herself had to say about the workshop after it was done:

I've just returned from Dallas where I was a guest of Becky and Hank Pearson (Becky is the pert redhead on the right in the group photo) and the workshop was hosted by Michael Mentler of The Society of Figurative Arts. Michael's studio is an ideal place for a workshop, with good lighting, space, easels, materials, and absolutely splendid models with variety of characteristics to challenge the por...traitist. Michael, and his assistant, the artist Anna Bain, were always available to make things work for our comfort.

It was a wonderful group! VERY enthusiastic artists. Three of them had been in my workshop in southern France last summer.

One of them bought the self-portrait I'm holding. She had asked earlier "Why would anybody want to buy a portrait of a person they didn't know?"

I told her that sometimes people are intrigued by the character, or it reminds them of somebody they know and love or a member of their family; I have a painting over my desk of a young man I don't know but he looks like my son and could be an "ancestor" - portraits of one's ancestors being prized where I come from. And sometimes they are bought by artists who are impressed by the work, the composition, the color, the brushwork, the lighting - and want to go to school on it. Or they are just beautiful or wonderful works that the person wants to own and enjoy looking at. Ironically, she then fell in love and couldn't resist mine!

To find out more about Judy's workshops and see more of her amazing portrait work, visit her website at:, or her Facebook page at:

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