I am attending a portrait workshop taught by Steven Assael, and one of the attendees asked if we were going to finish our paintings. Steven respectfully replied it was up to the artist. It reminded me of something I have heard Nelson Shanks say many times. “Everyone wants to know how to finish a painting,” he would say, ” but the important thing is to learn how to start a painting.”

I spent many years studying with Nelson and the teachers he trained at Studio Incamminati. When I came to work with Steven, I started all over again to build the basics the way he put them together and to address the inevitable gaps in my training. Even though I earned a Certificate of Completion with honors from SI, I recognized there was more I needed to learn to be able to see and to paint the way I wanted.

I have hundreds upon hundreds of starts from my four years studying at SI full time. As workshops with Steven are far fewer and far between, I haven’t got nearly as many starts. But I do have a healthy collection of them. I took his instruction at the beginning and made very basic studies until I began mastering his principles. With every successive workshop, I have been able to go further and faster.

One of the best things a student can do is to figure out how to learn.