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February 1 - Don Magid at Art Center Waco - Portrait Play

Don Magid is a great painter and teacher, but didn't he just have a program at the Art Center recently? Yes he did, but Don has a new and improved presentation in which he will develop a portrait based on a dramatic Steve McCurry photo of a man wearing a turban. McCurry is a wonderful photographer who travels the world recording what he sees. An exhibit of his work, including the iconic National Geographic cover photo of a Afghan girl, was on display at Art Center Waco for 9 months, ending in March 2008. Many of his photos can be seen on his web site


Don is convinced that art can be - and should be - the pathway to coping with our rapidly changing world. He will try to show that the perception skills needed to produce art also help us to see the structures underlying other aspects of our lives, and that the possibilities and limitations of the media we use both enable and constrain what we can accomplish in art and in life. He will develop an image, and also "the big picture." In these days of all-important tests, art is being squeezed out of the schools. Don is not alone in deploring this shift of emphasis away from students being able to explore their creative sides. Come to see how to paint better, but also how to help prepare children for their futures. For more, see Don's web site The meeting will be from 2 to 4, with refreshments and conversation at 1:30. Admission is free, so bring friends. There will be no Art Guild contest in February.


The demonstration will be at Art Center Waco, whose official address is 1300 College Drive, but which is actually off of Highland Drive. To get there, turn off of Lakeshore Drive onto College Drive, then take the 2nd left, which is Highland Drive. Proceeding uphill, take the first left into the Art Center parking lot. The building is lovely home with some sculptures out front.


If coming out N. 19th, turn right on College Drive (where the post office is on your left). Then turn right on Highland Drive, the third entrance to the campus (where there is an Art Center sign).  Proceeding uphill, take the first left into the Art Center parking lot. The building is lovely home with some sculptures out front.

February 1 - Don Magid, The Play Factor Illustrated with a Portrait

Don Magid presented a program called The Play Factor: Harnessing the Power of Information in Art. He said that great artists have always employed both sides of the brain to create something new. We must train our perceptual skills, allowing us to see and record basic structures. We can then add elaboration and details to capture our subjects. A good observer is apt to be successful in most any endeavor. Art can help us to develop skills that can be applied in many areas of life by observing underlying structures first, then playfully elaborating until the desired result is obtained.

Don pointed out that we use combinations of basic elements to produce complex structures. He made several quick charcoal sketches with simple lines and basic shapes. He then added details to develop a quick landscape, and to show how one can capture aging in a quick portrait sketch by elongating the face. Moving to a portrait, he used a photographic portrait by Steve McCurry of a tribesman in a turban as a reference. He started with a canvas previously covered with gesso mixed with small amounts of acrylic primary colors to create a warm neutral background color. He sketched the basic shapes in the portrait with charcoal, showing how the brain processes an image - the key is to get the large shapes in place, then to get more detail in the drawing. He measured with his charcoal pencil to get features in the correct place and proportion. He drew in the eyes first, then the nose, and other features, creating shadows and bone structure. He emphasized that what he was doing was processing the information in the photo and recording it in his work, keeping a loose, playful approach. After completing the charcoal drawing he used hairspray to fix it.

The basic elements of color are primary colors. With his palette knife, he mixed a flesh color using a mixture of cadmium red, cadmium yellow, ultramarine blue, and white oil paint. He varied the intensity by adding more or less white or by adding a complementary color. He stressed the importance of learning the colors and their complements in order to use these elements in your painting. By experimenting with the paint, one learns the basic characteristics of the paint and how it behaves. He added a paint medium to the paint to thin it, and used a flat bristle brush to apply it over the charcoal drawing, using the dark tones for shadows and lighter tones for highlights. He stressed the need for a willingness to play with the paint and not to be afraid of making a mistake. He turned the painting and the resource photo upside down to make it harder to see the face and easier to see the shapes while building up the forms.

Switching from the early stage portrait at the left to a partially completed painting of the same subject, he showed how he developed the finishing details. He worked more paint into the underpainting with lighter flesh tones and added more charcoal shading to the darker areas. He then concentrated on building up the form of the figure, working around the whole painting, rather than just one area at a time. He added white for highlighted areas in the turban and face, and worked the paint in loosely to show the folds of cloth and bone structure of the face. He did a great job of capturing the rugged strength of his subject as seen in the photo at the right. We thank Don for showing us both how to paint a portrait and how the skills involved can apply to other areas of life. Thanks also to those who brought refreshments: Gloria Meadows, Larry Garza, Ellen Foster, Kathe Tipton, Judy Franklin, and Nancy Cagle.



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