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Diego Larguia: by

15 Tips on Learning M. Stephen Doherty

to Paint in Oil
Simplifying the painting process makes it easier
to work and make judgements about color mixing,
paint application, and edge control. Here’s how
Diego Larguia does that
in classes on still life and

landscape oil painting. uring a recent course on beginner oil painting
taught by Diego Larguia at the New Orleans
Academy of Fine Arts (NOAFA), the instructor
recommended that students follow an exercise of painting
folded pieces of colored paper so they would learn to sim-
plify the process of judging relationships between shapes,
values, and colors.

“Generally speaking, people sign up for the class because

they long to paint landscapes, still lifes, or portraits; but before
they can tackle the specific skills associated with representing
those subjects, they have to get a feel for oil paint, become
acquainted with the principles associated with all painting, put
aside their egos, and sharpen their skills of observation and
analysis,” Larguia explains. “There are times when we are too
sure of what we think we see. Painting from direct observation
challenges this belief. It is in the process of painting, gathering
information, that we realize the full complexity of what we are
trying to capture.

“A painting is a document,” Larguia goes on to say. “Even

though art is subjective, it shouldn’t prevent us from searching
for order and accountability. In life we make decisions based
on our perceptions, and when painting from direct observa-
tions we exercise that concept. We learn in plateaus, and the
learning map shows us that it is through confidence that we
gain access to higher standards. In order to gain confidence,
students should set their own expectations and avoid frustra-
tion as much as possible.”
Opposite page:
Diego Larguia reviewed the student’s progress at the end
of a class at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts.


The Power of by

Design Linda S. Price

As Boston-based oil painter Sam Vokey contends,

“It’s design that elevates a work of art.”

f one believed in ghosts, the spirits of some of the
major names in turn-of-the-century art would certainly
be wandering the halls of Sam Vokey’s Boston studio.
When Fenway Studios was built in 1905, its forty-six units
housed many famed members of the Boston School of
painters. Vokey recently moved into a spacious third-floor
unit that once belonged to Edmund Tarbell (1862–1938),
an artist Vokey greatly admires. This is the third Fenway
studio Vokey has occupied, and he describes it as “the
créme de la créme of studios.” Modeled on a nineteent-
century Parisian atelier, his new domain is entered via a
balcony and stairs. A wall of fourteen -foot windows floods
the main high-ceilinged room of the studio with north light.
A fireplace stands at one end, and tucked away under the
balcony are a small kitchen, bathroom, and office/bed-
room, which boast French doors that open into the studio.

Not only does Vokey work in a studio filled with the spirit of
the Boston School, the artist also embraces the School’s
aesthetics in his painting. After graduating from Bowdoin
College, in Brunswick, Maine, with a minor in studio art,
Vokey received a five-year scholarship to the R.H. Ives
Gammell Studio, in Boston, an atelier that emphasized
working in natural light directly from life. It was there that
Vokey became familiar with the methods of the Boston

Opposite page:
Mango, 2003, oil, 20 x 16.
Private collection.


Joyce Washor: by

Complements & Bob Bahr

Small Scale
A New York oil painter showed how opposites on
the color wheel blend to make harmonious still lifes in

n Joyce Washor’s workshop last December at the
Scottsdale Artists’ School, in Scottsdale, Arizona, she
provided all the information needed to paint minia-
ture still lifes in oil like hers, from her paint mixtures to the
smallest technical hints and tips. But the participants did
not walk away with only a good understanding of how she
makes her 27⁄8” x 33 ⁄4” paintings successful summations of
classic still-life arrangements. Over the course of the five-
day workshop, it became clear that many of the lessons
learned were applicable to painting in other formats and
genres. The surface size may have indicated miniatures,
but the instruction encompassed big concepts.

Washor employs complementary palettes in her work; the

result is many neutral tones spiked by contrasting bursts
of color and bright highlights—highlights tempered by their
Opposite Page, clockwise from top left: complements, which tie the composition together even
tighter. During this week, the students worked two to a
Mom’s Silver, 2000, oil on board, 3½ x 2½.
Private collection. table, sharing still-life setups. The tone of the workshop was
Still-Life Composition close and cozy, with Washor exuding powerful calmness
2001, oil on board, and dispensing blunt advice tempered with an understated
33⁄8 x 2½. Private collection.
and playful sense of humor. The group quickly coalesced
Sunflowers into a friendly club of painters that shared ideas and solved
1999, oil on board, 33⁄8 x 2½.
All artwork this article collection the artist unless problems together. The result was about thirty paintings
otherwise indicated.
created by the students that showed a variety of abilities
Yellow Pitcher and Janet’s Roses and styles, yet a cohesive look. Not every workshop class
2002, oil on board, 33⁄8 x 2½.
gels like this, but it was clear that a large part of the reason
why the students finished the week with stronger paintings
and new friends was Washor.

contents Paint Confidently
with Oils!
• The Properties and Techniques
of Oil Paint merican Artist Guide to Oil Painting provides an easy-to-use
• Betty Kaytes: Start with a Still Life overview for every artist interested in this time-honored, inimitable
• Diego Larguia: 15 Tips on medium. This compilation of the best oil-painting articles from
Learning to Paint in Oil
• Michael Chelich: How to Develop American Artist magazine offers a thorough learning experience for
an Effective Composition working with oils. Inside you’ll discover:
• Jeffrey Legg: Summarizing What
You See and What Matters Most
to Your Painting • Foundational support from pros such as Joysce Washor, Brian
Keeler, Jeffrey Legg, Diego Larguia, and Michael Skalka
Techniques: • Information on the unique properties and techniques of oil
• Tony Curanaj: Knowledge and paint, along with advice on supports, canvas types, preparation,
Structure Allow Freer Painting solvents, and varnishes.
• The Power of Design • Specific techniques for still life and landscape painting, as well
as demonstrations in color mixing, paint application, and edge
Color: control.
• Joyce Washor: Complements • An extensive review of the principles of composition as well
and Small Scale
• Stressing the Relationships of
as and through demonstrations and comparisons on how to
Colors, Not Lines or Values critically evaluate paintings
• Brian Keeler: Building Strong • How to work with the complexities of color and color
Color Relationships Over Solid relationships.

Each in-depth article shares tips, exercises, and practical examples to take
the mystery out of the medium.

American Artist magazine has been a widely read and well-respected

resource for over 70 years; an essential tool for artists, both professional
and beginner. Every issue is filled with step-by-step demonstrations,
technical Q&A, in-depth artist profiles, and more.

Paperback, 8½ x 10¼, 128 pages

ISBN 978-1-59668-267-2, $24.95
Available September 2010