Monday, October 18, 2010

Jeffrey Watts

Jeffrey Watts is the founder of the Watts Atelier near San Diego, California, which he runs with the help of his wife Krista. I gave three digital presentations to a sold-out house there last Friday, and then did a 25-minute portrait sketch demo using water-soluble colored pencils.

The atelier is a large room in a professional building, lined with skeletons, drawing casts, copies of Sargent and Fechin, and figure and landscape paintings by Watts and other instructors.

Watts started the atelier in 1992 when he was just 22 years old, and now has about 250 students with a faculty of 10 instructors. His approach combines rigorously accurate drawing with a painterly handling that he describes as “controlled chaos.” He brings to his art the same the discipline that he learned earlier in his life when he was training to be a professional cyclist.

According to a September, 2006 article in American Artist, his students begin with a thorough experience of drawing, then progress to a grisaille palette, and then to a limited “Zorn” palette of titanium white, ivory black, cadmium red light, and yellow ochre before graduating to a full palette.

In this video sample, he shows his own approach to painting a “gesture portrait,” and explains some of his suggested palettes.
Watts Atelier


Michael C Hayes said...

Thanks again for visiting our little hole in the wall! It was great to see you again.

Claire Vrabel said...

Thanks for coming! It was a pleasure to see you at Watts! :)

Richard said...

Birgitta Sanstrom the director of the Zorn Collections in Mora, Sweden can’t understand how this limited palette became associated with Zorn since, among other reasons, they found 17 tubes of cobalt blue (among 243 tubes of all sorts of pigments beside ochre, black, and vermillion) in his studio when in died.

Mary Byrom said...

Nice sketch of Jeffery!

Anonymous said...

What selection of colors of water soluble colored pencils would you recommend for portrait sketches?

James Gurney said...

Richard, you make a good point, and I've seen the same observation from Bob Bahr in his essays on Zorn. Of course Zorn had a wide selection of pigments in his possession, including many blues and greens, and he certainly used them in some of his paintings, but at the same time many of his paintings, such as "Brodbaket" seem to be painted with an ultra-limited palette. Whether it is strictly accurate to associate him with the colors known as the "Zorn" palette, it has become a sort of shorthand--and I think it's a valuable teaching tool.

Miniatures--speaking of limited palettes, I do a lot of my colored pencil portraits with Caran d'Ache pencils using black, brown, Van Dyck brown, russet, scarlet red, and sometimes a yellow ochre.

My Pen Name said...

Great sketch. Interest how the atelier offers a pretty wide curriculum - including, it looks like, illustration and narrative, whereas, most of the NY ones focus purely on the figure- though I understand some new ones are opening in Brooklyn that will focus on narrative.

All these great artists.. now we just need a market for representational art! :)