Figurative Painting Workshop: Transcending Classical Form with Post-Modern Color and Space



Taught by: Emily Ezell, Assistant Professor of Painting at Grambling State University

Level: Intermediate. The ideal student has at least one formal painting class or a year of self taught painting in their background.

This workshop aims to guide students towards creating a painting that combines classical figures from the Western canon into a 21st century space that emphasizes abstracted form over illusionary space. Themes such as religion, identity, regionalism, appropriation, and narrative will be discussed.

Formal discussion of surface activation, paint application, figure-ground relationship, and creating space with color and edges will also be prioritized.

Participants will produce one 18 x 24 painting and at least 2 smaller studies based in collage and mixed media during the course of this workshop.


Day 1:
● Figurative Painting in Contemporary Art
● The Role of Appropriation
● Applying the Elements of Art to Figurative Composition
● Exploring Themes in Regard to Subject Matter
● Instructor Demonstration of Generating Imagery Process
● Students will complete 10 initial “thumbnail” drawings in monochrome.
● Students will complete 3 material experiments in order to transform their sketches with color.

Day 2:
● Instructor Demonstration of Beginning Layers of Painting
● Workday of Final Painting
● Instructor will rotate throughout the classroom to give Feedback
● Group Discussion (time allowing) “How to Finish”

Post-Instruction: Students are welcomed to submit their finished work for a one-on-one critique through email during the following month of class.

Materials Needed:
● Whatever paints, brushes, tools the participant is comfortable with. Only acrylic or oil paint, please. It is wise to limit your paint colors to no more than 9.
● Imagery will be provided but if there is a particular painting from the 15th – 18th century you would like to bring into use, that would be welcome!
Materials provided by museum: Small sketchbook and pencil/pen for thumbnail sketches, 9×12 heavy watercolor paper sheets, 18 x 24 primed, stretched canvas, scissors

About the Teacher: 

Emily Ezell composes an inverted esoteric world where reptiles are maternal, clowns are sacred, and feral women perform celebratory ritual intoxication. Color, texture and light are rendered in playful narratives that vacillate between illusionist and broken space and form. Ezell finds inspiration in Jungian Psychology, Esoteric Mythology, Southern Gothic culture, Mannerism, Rococo, the Divine Feminine and swamps.

*Promotional Image: “Le Petite Mort, 2024” by Emily Ezell. Oil on canvas. 48in x 36in.

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