Author Archives: Robin Wellner

First Exploit into Writing

 

Learning the Limited Palette

I was honored to be asked to write a blog post on the Zorn Palette for the Portrait Society of America.  My first exploit into writing!!!  Still prefer to paint!!! You can view it on their website under “Blog”. http://portraitsociety.org

December 10, 2019    Robin Wellner

There is something so magical about capturing someone’s essence on canvas. I’m fascinated and frustrated in equal measures as I try to learn to be a better portrait artist. I love the energy of painting from life, be it people or landscapes. Several years ago, I came across information on the Zorn Palette and thought, “Wow, only four colors!” White, yellow ochre, cadmium red and Ivory black – and variations. I’ve experimented with various limited palettes, but after looking at Anders Zorn’s portraits, I knew it was worth considering and experimenting with. 

Anders Zorn, Self Portrait with Model, 1896

Anders Zorn was a pre-eminent Swedish artist (1860-1920). He began as a watercolorist, painting beautiful landscapes, seascapes, as well as some portraits. In 1887, Zorn and his wife traveled with the English painter Alice Miller to Cornwall on England’s southwest coast. In the village of St. Ives in England, they found a wonderful fishing setting as well as a colony of international artists. Their visit lasted through the winter and was transformative for Anders Zorn as a painter. These painters inspired Anders Zorn to begin to paint in oils. An American artist, Edward Simmons, claimed to “help the Swede” to set his palette. This initial palette was black, white and yellow ochre. After the addition of red, this became Anders Zorn’s initial palette. This palette is evident in his painting Self Portrait with Model painted in 1896. It’s obvious as you look further at Zorn’s work that he did not limit himself to just that palette. There are many paintings that obviously have blues, greens and purples that could never have been created with the typical “Zorn” palette, but there are many incredible portraits that seem to have been painted with just those four colors.

                                Close-up of Zorn’s four-color palette

In my mission to learn portraiture, it was great to simplify the color aspect of my decision-making and focus more on the person in front of me. I found it quite liberating and rarely restrictive, unless the model wore blue or some vibrant purple. Since I was predominantly focused on their faces, it usually wasn’t a problem. Occasionally I will add ultramarine blue to my palette if the model wears blue. I also discovered that I was able to handle virtually any skin tone – brown, black or Caucasian – with those four colors. In my experimentation, I decided to use Cadmium Red Medium as my red. I found it more neutral than Cadmium Red Light or Vermilion. The other advantage to this palette was that I was virtually guaranteed color harmony because of the limited colors.

As time progressed and I became comfortable using this palette, I realized it would be a great asset to teaching. It simplified the color aspect of portrait painting, allowing more time to consider other aspects. Now prior to a workshop, I give my students homework and ask that they do color charts with those four colors. I developed a YouTube video that shows the process of doing a color chart, so they can follow along. As a result, they arrive at the workshop familiar with the range of skin tones they can achieve and are usually excited about the process. For those who may not have painted recently, it gets them to experiment with the paint before they come to the workshop.

Robin Wellner, Todd, oil, 16 x 20″

I don’t limit myself solely to using the Zorn palette when I do portraits, but I have found it a wonderful tool for learning. In this huge challenge of portrait painting, I’m grateful for anything to speed my learning! What tools have you learned to speed up that process?

Portrait Society member and Cecilia Beaux Forum guest writer Robin Wellner is an avid learner and works hard at trying to hone her skills as a portrait artist. She developed and teaches a workshop using the Zorn limited palette, “Alla Prima Portraits, using the Zorn Palette.” She hopes to pass on anything she’s learned to assist other artists who are passionate about painting the portrait.                  

Robin Wellner, Rara, 12×16″

 

 

 
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Palette Knife Plein Air Workshop

 

Palette Knife Plein Air Workshop

Florence Thomas Art School

http://www.florenceartschool.org

June 17-19, 9-4 pm, West Jefferson, NC, $300

White Water Linville, 10×10-SOLD

Come join us for three days of palette knife painting the beautiful scenery around West Jefferson with a palette knife.  Your paintings will be looser, bolder and simpler — full of texture.  We’ll talk about composition, values and color — and of course using the knife.  We’ll start with a demo, then lots of hands-on attention while you paint.  In case of rain, bring some of your favorite landscape photos.

If you’ve never done a workshop at Florence Thomas Art School you are in for a treat!  If you don’t sign up for my workshop, please peruse the other ones.  There is a wide variety!  The school is incredibly well-run.  West Jefferson is beautiful, friendly and very supportive of the arts. 

You’ll find a supply list and other information on the Florence Art School website.  http://www.florenceartschool.org

Feel free to email me (robinwellner@yahoo.com) or call or email Florence Art School if you have any questions!  Hope to see you in the mountains!!!

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Executive Portraits

Jim Allison, partner at Johnston, Allison and Hord, Attorneys at Law

I had the wonderful opportunity to paint Jim Allison’s portrait before he retired. I could tell from the folks I met at his firm that he is going to be missed!!

It’s not my preference to work from a photo that I have not taken, but I think it all worked out just fine. Jim has a great jovial spirit that I hope comes through in his portrait.

Enjoy your retirement Jim!!!

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Alla Prima Portraits using the Zorn Palette

Alla Prima Portraits using the Zorn Palette 

3-day Workshop with Robin Wellner

August 8, 9, 10 2020- 9:30-4:30pm 

$325, includes model fee

Florence Thomas Art School, West Jefferson, NC

http://www.florenceartschool.org

Painting portraits is challenging – but incredibly rewarding! Using a limited palette that we know works makes the color choices so much easier. One look at Anders Zorn’s paintings is enough proof that this palette can produce some incredibly beautiful portraits. Using the Zorn Palette will give you freedom and versatility and allow you to concentrate on some of the other aspects of portrait work. Robin Wellner has been working with the Zorn Palette for several years and is offering a workshop to share what she has learned about this palette, as well as other hints about creating a realistic portrait and likeness. 
The workshop will start each morning with a demo and instruction. After lunch, you will have the opportunity to paint a live model. There is nothing like painting from life — even if you choose to work from photos in the future. The insights you gain will transfer to your photo work. Instruction will include values, color, painting shapes rather than lines, specifics on painting features, and measuring for an accurate likeness. 
As an artist, Robin Wellner specializes in portrait and figure work, as well as plein air and landscapes. Her portraits have been featured in several national shows, such as, American Women Artists, Oil Painters of American, Richeson Portrait and Figure shows. 
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Small Works Show

Clouds Gathering over Grandfather

“Clouds Gathering over Grandfather”, 12×12, Oil/Panel

This scene was painted in one of my favorite places to paint in the Blowing Rock area.  Up Shoals Mills Road you can pull off and get the most spectacular views of Grandfather Mountain. This particular day, we were dodging thunderstorms all day.  I was lucky to get a span of time to paint!!

Hope you can join me Saturday, August 11th from 5-8 pm for “Small Works”, a group exhibition of works smaller than 14×18″ at Blowing Rock Frameworks and Gallery.  The show will run from August 6 through the 20th.

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Zorn Color Chart

I’ve done a video for Youtube for my workshops and classes, detailing how to do a color chart using the Zorn Palette.  One of the components of it is using a value scale.  I couldn’t figure out how to include a pdf for the value scale in the video so I’m posting it here, hoping that you’ll be able to access it to help with your color chart.

 

 

 

Here’s the link for the video:

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=robin+wellner

Have fun playing with these colors!!!

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What Was I THINKING?!?!?

The Pines next Door

I’m crazed!!!  I don’t know if it’s because I’m a Pisces or just simply deranged —  I am so easily influenced that It is extremely hard for me to stay on my own path.  And in the age of social media, it’s even more challenging.  Every day I see beautiful examples of incredible artwork — and my mind busily compares and evaluates — and then proceeds to beat me up.  I should be painting more from life, I should be painting abstracts, I should be working on my portraits — on and on and on!!!! Anyway — when I saw the 30 day challenge I considered it, then when I saw Dottie Leatherwood’s post about using it as a way to help the hurricane victims, I was on board!!  Yes I had already donated to the Red Cross, but maybe this would be a way to generate some more to donate.  

This is day three of the 30 day challenge.  After spending 2 – 3 hours painting, then another hour posting on all the various social medias and websites, then another hour cleaning up so I can go on to do other work —-I’ve realized I can’t and don’t want to do this this time.  I’m sorry Dottie!  I just can’t keep up with you!  You’re frigging amazing with all you take on and accomplish!  I’m proud of you!  But I’ve realized I have to stay on my course — hard as it is for me to even find the way — and this feels like off-course for me at this time.

Good luck to all you who are doing the challenge!!  I wish you all the best!  I’m back to trying to find my own path and continue to learn and grow as a painter and a person.  

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Plein Air Painting on a Bike

Maiden Voyage

Today was my maiden voyage — riding my bike to plein air paint.  I uplifted my bike with some big baskets so I could fit all my gear. 

Painting by bike

Fun!  Makes it so much easier to look for places to paint.  Not trying to drive a car and scope out possibilities!!  This particular tree is one that I always look at in my neighborhood.  I love the twisting branches — it looks like one of those trees on the coast that’s been windswept.  

This is Day 2 of the 30 day challenge.  Once again if you purchase this painting, half of the price will go to a charity to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Make sure and let me know which charity you prefer.  I mentioned 3 in my first blog post about 30 in 30.

All the best to you and yours!!!

 

 


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Day One – 30 paintings in 30 days – Bringing you Flowers

Once again I’m committing to doing 30 paintings in 30 days — all from life.  Dottie Leatherwood was a huge inspiration for my decision.  I always learn a tremendous amount when I paint daily, but this time it feels more meaningful.  I saw Dottie’s post about donating 50% to Hurricane Harvey victims and realized what a wonderful idea!  So for every painting that sells, 50% will be donated to victims of Hurricane Harvey.  They will be posted on Daily Paintworks, or you may contact me directly.

If you purchase one, please let me know your preference for donation – Red Cross or Houston Humane Society.  If you have a favorite charity that you’re familiar with that benefits those affected by this horrific event, please let me know.  

I received an email from the Portrait Society today.  They have set up a drive to donate art supplies to the hundreds of children who are stranded in shelters.  Many people had to leave their homes with little more than the clothes on their backs.  So they are coordinating a drive to send coloring books, art pads, colored pencils and markers to these children in the Dallas and Houston convention centers.  So that is another cause that I would be happy to send donations to as well.

All 30 paintings will be from life — so either plein air, interiors, people or still life.  My other caveat that I’m adding for my own education, is to do every painting  with a limited palette.  For instance, the painting above “Bringing you Flowers” was done with White, Ultramarine Blue, Permanent Rose and Cadmium Yellow Light.

I’m excited about the opportunity to learn more — and to help some in this horrible situation in Texas.  Having experienced many hurricanes myself, I know how your life comes to a complete standstill — but I’ve never experienced any as intense and destructive as Harvey.  My heart goes out to all those folks!  

To purchase this painting http://www.dailypaintworks.com/fineart/robin-wellner/bringing-you-flowers/620548.

All the best to you and yours!!!

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Zorn Portrait Workshop – Early Registration Savings

Dave and the Dogs

I think it’s pretty obvious that this is not an Alla Prima portrait — but it was done with the Zorn palette – white, yellow ochre, red and black.  

Talked to my partner in crime – Sarah Gay, manager of ClearWater Artists Studios and we decided to offered to waive the model fee for anyone who signs up  for the workshop by September 15th.

3-Day Intensive Workshop with Robin Wellner

Friday, Saturday and Sunday – October 6, 7 and 8, 2017 – 9:30am – 5pm

ClearWater Artist Studios, Concord, NC

$375, plus $50 model fee* per person

*waived if you sign up by September 15th

See more information on my blog or my teaching page at http://www.robinwellner.com

 

Hope you can join us!!! In the meantime, Happy Painting!!!

 

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