THE INTERIORITY OF OBSERVATION and the cultivation of a visual imagination

Drawing 9 copy


May 18-20, 2020

with a 90-minute slide lecture on May 17, 2020

A fast paced three-day observational studio seminar exploring the relationship between what we see ‘out there’ and how we respond to that in paint and with drawing on the working surface. Long ago Degas said, “I must impress upon myself that I know nothing at all, for that is the only way to make progress’. And with regard to our evolving path of learning can we not wonder how that applies to the way we think and behave with the brush in hand? Do we proceed with predetermined assumptions and expectations of ‘finish’, or do we let the vulnerability and possibilities of the perceptual moment inform how our imaginations guide the construction of a painting from the inside out? This class is designed for painters with a honed skill set, but still searching for a more inventive, more personal and less dogmatic way of seeing.  Emphasis will also be placed on drawing as the primary thought engine behind all visual thinking and, on trusting your instincts within the structure of paying attention. 

The three days will be divided between studio and out of doors, the out of doors being with drawing in a variety of ways including collage, to reinforce an awareness of the construction of form as an improvisational choreography.  One day of studio is devoted to working from the model, but using the model as a visual anchor within a larger context with an emphasis on painting and design. A third day will be organized around working observationally and interpretively from reproductions of other people’s work to dig into the thought structure of painters from Giotto to Diebenkorn. A 90 minute slide talk the night before the first day will begin the conversation.

STUART SHILS is a sensitive painter of the abstract, as seen through the composition in his urban work, and the dramatic weather depicted in his Irish coastal work. His Italian series seems to be bathed in warm-to-hot sunlight. An ever-evolving artist, his recent explorations have taken an even more abstract turn involving collage and assemblage.

Inspired by work done on his monotype press, his paintings have become abstract fields of beautiful hues, and textures with small accents of surprise that punctuate and shape the broad environments of color. Even more recently, his photography of collages in the making and ever changing street scenes reveal an alert eye that constantly sees the shifting compositions of daily life, revealing just how they can be plucked out of context by the camera, leaving the scene undisturbed.

Shils has shown his work at Rothschild Gallery, Tel Aviv, Tibor de Nagy, NY and Hackett-Freedman in San Francisco among others. He has been awarded numerous grants for his work including awards from the Pollack-Krasner Foundation, the Ballington Arts Foundation and the NEA Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation. He has been a visiting artist at numerous colleges and arts organizations including University of Washington, Hamline University, Lyme Academy School of Arts, University of Utah, and Johns Hopkins University.

Full cost of this workshop is $875. Stuart’s workshops fill quickly so register early if you’d like to participate. A 50% deposit ($437.50) is required to hold a spot. Refund policies can be found on this website. Please contact with any questions and/or to register.