Watching David Jon Kassan paint makes me want to be a better painter. A week ago I returned home from a workshop with Kassan at the Scottsdale Artists School in Arizona. David is a talented artist and a great teacher. He is very open, self effacing and generously shares what he knows with his students. If you’ve seen his drawing video, you know what I mean.
Every morning David did a demo and in the afternoon the participants worked from the model. His process involved doing a detailed drawing of the model and transferring it to the canvas to paint. The first day he drew the model, John, and spent the remainder of the time painting him.
David is great at sharing information, both about the painting process and general aspects of an artist’s life. He keeps up an ongoing banter while he draws or paints, as if the process were automatic and he didn’t need to pay attention. We fired questions at him the entire time, which he happily answered, and of course he also told us jokes. Duh…
Scottsdale Artists School has wonderful facilities and friendly and helpful staff. Workshops are a great time to find out about new materials. This one was no exception.
David mostly uses Vasari’s handmade oil paint. If you’ve read my blog you know I’m a big Vasari paint lover, so this one was not new to me but it did give me a chance to try out some new paint colors. I already had the rosebud, and pairing that with the Video blue extra pale and the Brilliant yellow light, gives you a high value balanced triad that works well for portraits. Vasari is creamy without being runny, is very pure and saturated. If you’ve never used this paint think about trying it.
Kassan has been painting on Dibond panels and lately has been using Arches oil paper. RayMar is coming out with a new product of Arches oil paper mounted on a Dibond panel. He was trying out the prototypes at the workshop. The panel is lightweight and with a slight texture from the oil paper but not as regular and pebbly as the watercolor paper. He coats the surface with an N5 Acrylic paint which gives it the same tone as his parallel palette and cuts down on the absorbency of the oil paper.
I was skeptical about spending the money for close focus binoculars and tried my birding binoculars, but they didn’t work in the same way. So I got the Pentax Papilio binoculars David uses and I’m glad I did. They’re very close focus – 6.5 feet to 21 feet and work well for seeing the detail in the model’s face without having to actually get in her face! I use them all the time now.
The #2 round Isabey kolinsky 6227Z brush. Ok, I could have figured this one out on my own, but I didn’t. This is quite possibly my favorite brush ever. I go through brushes rather fast, but this one seems to be lasting longer, and holds a point brilliantly. I think I’ll have to invest in more.
One great thing about taking a workshop is that you get to make a lot of new friends both among the workshop participants and the staff.
David has recently set up the Kassan Foundation to benefit students in the visual arts and music. (You can donate here.) The first night of the workshop was a demo-fundraiser for the foundation at the Legacy gallery. Here are some images showing the progression of that painting demo.
David Kassan has shown for years at Gallery Henoch in NYC and a painting of his mother was just included in the Boochever national portrait competition and can be seen in the current show in Washington D. C. He’s becoming increasingly popular as an instructor and his busy schedule only allows him to teach a few workshops a year. If you want to study with him you can see his 2013 schedule here. I highly recommend it.