Saturday, July 30, 2016

Figure Painting Workshop

A couple of blog posts ago, I wrote about the 2-week figure drawing workshop I attended at the Florence Academy of Art in Jersey City. Here is a progression of images from the follow-up 2-week workshop at the same school - Figure Painting. 
I have omitted most of the preparatory drawing phase and started the images with the finished preparatory drawing. As with the drawing workshop, the goal was accurate representation; however, the instructor emphasized integrating understanding of form. What I mean is this: Let's say I am painting a head by first drawing an accurate outline of the form and then putting down paint to match the patterns of light and dark as they appear on the head. In this scenario, I do not need to know that what I am painting is a head in order to paint this way. I do not even need to know that what I am drawing is a form in space. All I am doing is copying an outline and areas of light and dark. This is the was I operated in the first workshop, and this way of working is all fine and good, but this method has limitations. For one thing, as my instructor of the painting workshop stated, the product of this method tends to be stiff and lifeless and less believable. (what I understood her to be saying but in my own words.) 
So, what she taught us was to also understand the form of what we are drawing and use that information as well. Here is what I mean by that: Let's say again that I am drawing a head. I know that the head is more or less spherical, so I can draw the general outline of a circle. And for values (the light and dark), I know there will be a shadow line running up the head where the side of the sphere turns completely away from the light. All this information I know from my understanding of the 3-dimensional form in space. 
Trying to combine both of these methods pretty much made my head explode. But, I think that means the workshop was a success, because I did go there to learn something. 
Plus, there was the whole "handling paint" thing. Yeah. I'm a sculptor, thank you very much. (Well, most of my formal training is in sculpture.) And color? Whatever. Once we got into the different values and hues of flesh tones and how those related to turning form and location on the body (legs are a different color than shoulders, for instance). The last four days of the workshop pretty much consisted of me mixing paint the entire time. 
Which is why I'm going back in the fall for the full-time drawing and painting program =). 
But, no, in all seriousness, it was a great workshop. It made me see so much that I never would have been able to see on my own and I am so ready to dive into more. It was frustrating, but it was also fascinating. 
More to come...

Bethany Lee

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Recent NYC Cityscapes

Here are some of my recent plein air cityscapes of Manhattan. They are all plein air, 5"x7" watercolor and colored pencil pieces. Prints can be purchased at

 Christopher St. & 7th Ave W

The Riviera Cafe, Greenwich Village

Subway Station at Prince and Broadway

A Tree Grows in Midtown Manhattan

Friday, July 15, 2016

Figure Drawing Workshop

Today was the last day of my two-week, figure drawing workshop at the Florence Academy of Art in Jersey City.
Day one of the workshop was a demonstration by the instructor. Days two and three were practice, and days 4-10 were devoted to one drawing of a single pose. The following photos document the progress of this drawing day by day.

The purpose of the workshop was to teach academic figure drawing, and the goal was not so much to have a finished drawing at the end (and my drawing is not finished) as it was to learn the particular drawing method the Florence Academy teaches which is designed to form an artists observational and compositional skills. The standard was accuracy, and the workshop did not touch matters of expression at all. I think this experience is analogous to learning scales for a musician.
And yet, it was not a dry experience. Not at all. The three hours passed quickly each day. The process itself of observation, mark making, and observing again is both meditative and mentally taxing. Honestly, I found it, at times, exhilarating - to look and look at the same curve of a particular part of the body day after day and by simply following a methodical (but not formulaic) process, to experience that form emerge on paper is pretty sweet. You kind of get hooked by it.
So, now, on to figure painting. That will be my workshop for the next two weeks.

As always:
Purchase prints of my work at:

My Instagram handle is bethanyleefineart.

Find my artist page on Facebook at:

Follow me on Twitter @bethanyleeart

And, finally, look for me on the streets of NY, making plein air paintings!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Checking in...

It' been a busy week. I've been making art rather than writing blog posts. However, for those of you to whom I have given my card while drawing on the street, I want to make sure you know where to find me, so:

Obviously, this is my website. Right now it is just a blog. Soon, I'll have an actual website up and running.

Purchase prints of my work at:

My Instagram handle is bethanyleefineart.

Find my artist page on Facebook at:

Follow me on Twitter @bethanyleeart

And, finally, look for me on the streets of NY, making plein air paintings!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Back to the City

Back to the city. "The" city meaning, of course, New York City. Yes, Manhattan, that delightfully art-friendly city. These images are from this past week of peddling and painting in Manhattan. They are all 5"x7" watercolor & colored pencil, plein air peices.

To order prints of my work, please visit

 View of Fifth Ave Buildings from the SE Corner of Central Park

Canal Street Watertower

Central Park Path, SE Corner

View of Fifth Ave, Looking N from St. Patrick's Cathedral

For the month of July, I will be attending a workshop which means I may not be posting much finished art for the duration. However, the quality of my work with hopefully be much improved by the time I am done!