Lipking Workshop

Just came back from a workshop with artist Jeremy Lipking.  I went in with some theories of how he might work – but found it quite unlike my expectations!

I’ll try to sum up what I saw in the the three days of painting:

I found him very likable. He’s a very low key guy – down to earth, slightly sarcastic sense of humor. Not a huge talker – he covers the key points and will always answer questions – but most of the day is you painting alongside him – watching his work evolve.

You have to be ready to observe – he’s not big on verbalizing his process. But it’s not like there are many secrets to it (other than great judgment, earned over time). You can pretty much see what he’s doing – you just get a little crazy with envy attempting to do it yourself. It’s all skill and experience – no tricks.

He loves cool subdued neutrals and pale glowing fleshtones – but he paints with brilliant cadmium colors. No reliance on greys or mud mixes – just what I’d call a ‘fairly standard full spectrum’ selection.

Two each of red, yel, blue, green (one warm, one cool of each), black, white,  and two wildcards – transparent red oxide (kind of uber-burnt sienna, good for flesh), and one custom mix – a kind of pale chalky warm blue (used as a cooling tint).

He uses these colors to make a symphony of greys. Nothing is overly chromatic – there’s usualy more use of stronger color in the transitions between values, or inside shadows. (no black shadows at all).

(specific pigments:  Titanim White, Cad Lemon, Cad Yellow, Cad Orange, Cad Red, Alizarin Crimson, Trans. Red Oxide, Ultramarine Blue, Cobolt Blue, Viridian Green, ‘Gold Green” (kind of a dark Sap Green I’d never heard of before) and Ivory Black (which I didnt see him use).


(Jeremy’s palette)

His paintings have elegant draftsmanship, but in fact he doesn’t start with an underdrawing.  He just dots in the crown, the chin, the feet and the ‘furthest extents’ – (like, the elbow and the feet). So we’re talking five or six dashes, and that’s it!

These dashes are carefully measured – he took about a 20 min to do this stage. He says this is so he knows the figure is placed as he wants in on the canvas before he puts a week into the painting.

He’s measuring with the brush at arms length – a simplified sight-size method – measuring the head, and estimating everything in ‘scaled head units’ on his canvas. So it’s ‘eyeball scaled sight size’ not a rigid academic approach.


(Jeremy’s demo – day one)

His method seems to be based almost entirely on a sensitivity to color. He is able to see and immediately reproduce extremely narrow midtone values. He works methodically, from the figures face outward and down, finishing as he goes, apparently not needing to go back to correct. Each stroke is considered.

He seems to paint slowly, but the painting actually progresses quite quickly – since every stroke is the correct value. He won’t make more than a few strokes with loaded brush – always mixing exactly what he means to place.

His work appears to be realistic at first glance – but it’s in fact very idealized. He’s compressing the values he sees into a  narrow mid-tone space.  It’s a really calm, serene kind of rendition of what’s in front of him.

His demo painting seemed to be 20 or 30 percent darker than reality – as if we’re seeing the model in a dimly lit interior. He chooses to ignore a lot of cast shadow and specular highlights in favor of a clean soft silhouette.  The best example is his preference to leave out the highlight on the tip of the nose. He seems to think it’s distracting – too sharp a note.

He favors mongoose hair brushes. The top brand being Langnickle. (I experienced a lot of trouble with Langnickles losing hairs. I’ve since switched to Rosemary and Co.) They’re pretty awesome I must say – hold tons of paint, are very springy, but are surprisingly random. The hair feels spikey – the stroke is kind of crosshatched or dry-brush feeling. Seems very well suited to a smoothly blended painting.

He will take a clean brush and blend back unwanted thick ridges on brushstrokes – but I don’t think you’ll ever see him using a blender on the painting. I didn’t see one anywhere in the studio.

I think that’s about it. If you were thinking about taking his workshop – I’d go while you have the chance. In a few years he might get a lot more expensive!


(Jeremy’s demo – day two)


(my weaksauce version)

The third day was kind of the cool part of this trip. We ditched the studio and went to the beach. You really can’t get a lot of painting done while chasing the light and running from waves, but it’s a beautiful way to spend a day in Malibu.

Model: Maude Bonanni

Jeremy (seated, white hat)

Photos: Laurel Holmes

23 thoughts on “Lipking Workshop

  1. Marc,

    Thanks for the info on Jeremy… especially his palatte. I have used the Green-Gold before but only twice… it is a great pigment. My Green-Gold came from Shiva [in Wisconsin]…. but it is a two pigment mix… Is that what Jeremy uses, or is it a different brand. If so, which one? My mentor used to use a Green-Gold that was produced by Classic Oils in the super large tubes…. when he used to hand paint bill boards.

    …rog

  2. Thanks for the info, its a great write up. I recently saw a demo from Steven Assael and he has a similar teaching style, not very verbal and you have to know why he is doing what he is doing. I think jeremy’s approach is wonderful, his skin tones are always so colorful and vibrant but it makes sense since he stays away from the muddy midtones. I am surprised he doesnt start with a drawing first, Steven Assael had a very unique starting method that involved dividing the picture plane into diagonal sections, I think he drew 9-10 diagonal lines to start and then just drew the figure in. He had a very colorful palette as well.

  3. Wow, great stuff. Amazing artist. Thanks for sharing the pallet. I don’t suppose you know what he mixed to get the pale chalky warm blue? I’ll have to try this out. And by the way, thanks for the info on San Fran. I just got back last week and it was an amazing trip. Your bing map really helped. Beautiful architecture. Keep up the great work.

  4. > pale chalky warm blue?

    My speculation, based on the picture of the palette [pictures do lie though], is this warm blue is done with Cobalt blue, White, and Ivory Black to detune the blue. By using the Cobalt pigment, I think Black can be used to detune it without getting it too greenish. Perhaps this is why you did not see him use Black.

    This idea comes from the fact that commercial Payne’s Grey Oil paint is often made with Phthalo Blue and Ivory Black.

    Marc, I am sending you an email on green-gold if you want to get some.

    1. Hmm, but Cobalt is a cool blue, right? Wouldn’t it make more sense to use Ultramarine? I’m probably wrong, but just curious. I thought Ivory Black and Titanium White tend to cool colors too. Thanks for the reply!

      1. ya, again, not sure specificaly, but you know, you could just play with the mix – I tried it with Ultramarine, Cad Red Med, Cad Lemon and White – got an approximation….

        This particular model had a very pale pink-y, alizairan-y Caucasian skin – so I don’t know that I even used it very much….(on this painting)…but that’s why his was probably better – he really greyed off the body – making a strong smooth silhouette…

    1. Hi Marc

      Regarding that cool mix- I read he uses a flesh mixture of ultramarine, burnt sienna and white. You can come up with all kinds of variations from this basic mix.

      Windsor newton makes green gold. Really nice color.

      thanks for all the info!

  5. Thanks very much for posting this information. I have seen one of his DVD’s and noticed much of what you said, but your first hand account is very helpful in understanding how he works.

  6. I’ve enjoyed this article tremendously. Thanks for these observations! I’m wondering what the medium is that Jeremy uses which seems to keep his paints so fluid? Does anyone know about this? Would love to learn of it.

    1. That’s a good question Susan – I really can’t recall in particular hearing anything unusual about medium…so can’t really say. I hear he’s having an open house sometime around now actually – perhaps someone local will stop by!

  7. nice job Mark,
    let me know about more workshop…
    i have a question about the medium also… which one is better…

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