November 14, 2008

Nathan Fowkes Class

Back from my recent L.A. trip. Nathan Fowkes is an amazing painter and put on such a great workshop. It was fantastic to learn from him and chat with some very talented classmates.

First half of the 7 hour class was lectures about color theory, including many stunning examples of said theories. Second half was Nathan giving a painting demo from a costumed model where he applied some of the theories we discussed and then our turn to do the same. Here are some shots from the class, sorry for the grainy ones... had to go without flash. The colors will obviously be a bit off.


Examples of creating color harmony.

Nathan setting up.

Nathan's materials. Winsor Newton watercolors and white gouache, plus various brushes, rags, tape, water reservoirs, etc.

First abstract color study from the model.

Second abstract. Purposely very different from the first.

In progress.

Thumbnail rough from model, using the first color scheme.

Final studies.

My attempts with Liquitex soft body acrylics (first time using these).

It was a really fun and challenging exercise! The big challenge was in editing the colors from what we saw in reality... tons of garish colors side by side. The model was dressed in purple on a blue chair, with a lime green and vivid red scarf draped across each shoulder. Various colored scarves were draped around her against a black velvet backdrop that picked up both red and white raked lighting. And she had orange hair to boot! It was a cornucopia of color.

The goal was to pair the colors down and establish a harmony, focus and use unexpected accents.

For more of Nathan's work, visit:


Ron Smith said...


Great work at the demo. I love your color comp.

Please Email me any time.

Thanks again


Nubian Greene said...

great,i came here from fowkes blog,Nice post,which I had could study with him.Your work turned out great too.:)

pumml said...

Thanks Ron and Nubian! Nathan is a great teacher.

Kali Fontecchio said...

Whoa my friend goes to his life drawing classes every Monday, haha.

Neal said...

Great post! Consider me very jealous.

Jared Shear said...

Looks like a great class. I've always wanted to attend myself.

On the first image of the post, how did you or he end up arriving at the more neutral swatches of color? Was there a reason or way he had you approach this?

Great post!

pumml said...

Thanks guys!

Kali - I met Tuna at the workshop. She's very cool. What does your friend think of the life drawing class?

Neal - Thanks! Your jealousy is appreciated. :)

Jared - Thank you! Definitely a worthwhile experience. The first image is of two of Nathan's examples of creating color harmony between colors that are opposites on the color wheel. Together as pure hues they are jarring, but as you mix one with the other, they become different grays (neutral gray at the color wheel center, obviously).

The theory is to use different mixes of neutral grays (and/or browns) using only the main hues to create a pleasing neutral palette and then throw in small accents of more vibrant/pure hue color to create interest and drama. AKA: Unity with Variety or Repetition with Variation. The examples he presented do this quite effectively.

Jared Shear said...

Cool......I was thinking that the neutrals were being mixed from a combination of the two main hues, but wasn't sure. What a great way to achieve unity. Thanks Pumml!

Kali Fontecchio said...

Haha Tuna from Turkey! She's cool, very camel-esque.

My friend Wade loves the life drawing class, I posed for him a few weeks back, seems like this teacher is pretty good!

tunaf1sh said...

camel-esque! geez kali!

thanks for the post, these pics look great! :)

Kali Fontecchio said...

What's wrong with camel's? I love camels- they're funny.

Matt J said...

Mr Fowke's is a modern day renaissance man-you were v. lucky to learn from him.

indigovenice said...

Such a fascinating blog & thanks for sharing your experiences. Btw if those are your demo examples - they look great!
I am green with envy - I would so love to do a workshop like this one - so thanks for sharing your experience with us :)