Updated Friday, 4/27 – Like it or not, we are surrounded by portraits. Just look at our paper money, and what do you see? Portraits capture the “likeness, believability and personality” of their subjects.
“Creating portraits from live models inspires the artist to study the visual elements and subtleties of form, line, value and color,” according to Green Lake-area artist Pat Dobrinska. She will be instructing the course Drawing and Painting Portraits From Life at the UW-Madison School of the Arts at Rhinelander July 21-27.
Dobrinska’s class is for all artists skilled in all media from graphite, colored pencil and charcoal to pastels, watercolors, acrylics and oils. She says that her ideal student should have some background in his or her chosen medium.
“One should be somewhat experienced in the media one chooses to use in the class,” she said. “I think that an intermediate or advanced student would be perfect.”
She notes that work in portraiture is specific to the subject but, in some ways, it is similar to work in other specialties such as landscape drawing.
“I think painting and drawing portraits and doing landscapes are somewhat the same in that both force you to look at the subject matter in earnest. You can’t do either unless you really see what is before you. That learned ability is probably the most important ingredient in producing good art.”
Dobrinska has been producing good art most of her life. She received her B.A. in art from the University of Colorado, a teaching degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, and started the art department at Princeton Public School where she also taught for several years. After a freelance career as a portrait artist, she began teaching adult classes in portrait drawing and painting in the early 1990’s. Included in her resume is prior teaching experience in the School of the Arts and at workshops in Wisconsin and Mexico.
Key to portrait art, she says, is the artist’s ability to concentrate on the subject. “The biggest mistake that one makes in pursuing portraits is not to look at the person that one is painting,” she said. “A person will sometimes revert to pulling out the symbol of a person that he learned how to draw in second grade rather than really looking at the person he is painting.” This “seeing” is her measure of success when her students have completed the class.
“My goal in whatever subject that I teach is to have the student come away with the ability to really see and to use that ability to transfer that to paper or canvas,” she said.
Drawing and Painting Portraits From Life is a three-hour, five-day class at School of the Arts with a model fee of $15. Students are also responsible for supplies pertinent to their medium.
Registration information for this class is available on line at soawisconsin.org. All classes have enrollment limits; enrollment is first-come, first-served, and early registration is recommended. Some financial assistance may be available to participants who submit an application by June 8.