Monday, May 2, 2016

Artist Spotlight: Kathryn Engberg

Kathryn Engberg is a 4th year student in our full-time core program, just a few weeks away from graduating. She's been co-teaching our evening portrait class with Resident Artist Patrick Byrnes and will again teach in our Summer Drawing Boot Camp. This summer she'll instruct the one-week figure workshop as well as teach an evening portrait sketch class. Originally from Maryland, Katie is planning to to stay and continue to paint in NYC after graduation, teach at GCA and take her new kitten on walks throughout Central Park.

This portrait of Victoria was painted in March in the core program. Katie discusses her process below.

What keeps me coming back to portraits is the incredible amount of variety. Anatomically, everyone has a frontal bone, a zygomatic bone, a nasal bone, etc. but the skin that's on top is completely different. When I sit down to do a portrait, I really try to isolate what it is about that face, that I find intriguing or appealing to me personally. For example, with this portrait, I really wanted to represent her coloring with her natural red hair and pale skin. In particular, how her pale eyelashes were catching light in this downward gaze, was really interesting to me.

This drawing started in a very linear way as you can see from the bottom portion. The block-in process includes using tools such as measuring, shape finding and tilt matching to get the most accurate representation of life possible. After 4 hours/one day of working the linear aspect of the drawing, I began rendering with tone.

All of the hatch marks are going in the same direction, which is perpendicular to the direction of the light. This allows the overall fullness of the head to be the most important aspect rather than the small forms taking over (too many darks in the lights and too many lights in the darks.)

In a group class, we rotate who sets the pose with the model and the positions around the model are chosen by lottery. I was sitting on a horse, looking up at her, which exaggerates her downward gaze.

I transferred the drawing to linen using the oil transfer method. I then spent one session doing a grisaille underpainting in raw umber and flake white. as you can see, at the bottom of the painting. After the first day of grisaille underpainting, I then began to paint each section form by form in color. My palette for this painting included flake white, cadmium yellow light, yellow ochre, cadmium red, burnt sienna, raw umber and black.

After completing the final color pass, I then do a revision glazing pass where I can push color and improve the form. For the background, I wanted to keep it simple with one color, as opposed to an interior or studio setting. So I chose a fairly neutral color that is darker than the lights and lighter than the shadows and pushed slightly towards blue in order to make the reds of her hair, pop. I also used a palette knife for it which gave it more texture and interest, even though it's simple. It's hard to see this detail in the photograph.

This portrait will be on view during our End of Year Exhibition which highlights our graduates on Friday, May 20th from 6-9pm and is on view during our open studios Saturday and Sunday, May 21 & 22 from 12-6pm. Both of these events are also part of the annual LIC Arts Open that celebrates artists making work in Long Island City.

There are only a couple spots left in Katie's summer workshop in figure drawing that runs July 11-15. Her evening portrait sketch class will be held on Tuesday evenings 6-9pm for most of June, July and August. Registration is now open.

Katie will also have a solo show at The Union League Club in NYC for the month of November 2016. Opening reception details will be announced in the fall. View her website at and on instagram Kathryn_Engberg.