Cece and her self-portrait in progress.
Cece has been working on her self-portrait for two weeks; Jingwei  for a week. This is a laborious process of learning to measure, learning to model, and then assembling these techniques into an autobiographical whole. This is the hardest assignment I give to high school seniors, and their ability to buckle down into it says a lot about their future prospects.
Sandy’s charcoal self-portrait of this week.
Since Sandy Quang was here and we weren’t painting, she decided to do a fast charcoal self-portrait as well. This gave me a great opportunity to compare her drawing to the one she did for her own portfolio in 2008.
Sandy’s graphite self-portrait of 2008.
The biggest difference between a teenager and an art school graduate is assurance. Sandy whipped this drawing off in an hour, and her mark-making reflects that. Her measurement and transcription were painstaking in 2008; they’re automatic today. That reflects hundreds and hundreds of hours of drawing in the interim.
Jingwei’s unfinished graphite self-portrait.
Every plein airpainter is used to certain comments from passers-by. One that I’m sensitive to is, “I used to paint, but I don’t have time anymore.” Another is, “That looks like so much fun!” Yes, art is fun, but it rests on a solid foundation of instruction, learning and practice. If you’re not willing to do that, you’d be wise to choose an easier career path.  Most successful painters I know have spent years learning their craft. When youngsters come to me to study art, the first question is whether they have the tenacity for an art career.
Cece’s unfinished graphite self-portrait.

I will be teaching in Acadia National Park next August. Message me if you want information about the coming year’s classes or this workshop.