Figurative Design in Industry Workshop

Selected date

Monday May 22

Selected time

9:00 AM  –  4:00 PM

Jeannie McGuire Workshop Details


Paintings of people are compelling because of the abundance of stories to be told.  In this industry-influenced Figurative Design workshop Jeannie aims to act as a mentor and to inspire artists to create original works of art in their own unique style.  Immerse yourself in the inspirational setting of the historic Pump House, once part of the U.S. Steel Homestead Steel Works, and create paintings of people and places within the many areas of industrial evolution.


In the workshop Jeannie will share her painting application and spontaneous thoughts and stories that guide her process including her current series of  “Machinists,” a collection of 32 paintings.  You will hear about intuitive design and composition, versatility of pigment / water ratios, intentional and spontaneous marks, use of titanium white as an additional pigment, and the freedom to change your mind.  You will be encouraged to work in a series of two or more paintings of a like genre and to be imaginative about the people in your reference photos by studying their expressions, body language, surroundings and interactions.


Students will gather together as a class each morning for an introduction into designing for a story, and projects will be presented to stimulate thought.  Jeannie will give individual mentoring to each student through conversation or pencil to paper while suggesting design adjustments and story ideas.  There will be class demonstrations, spontaneous conversation, and independent painting time.  Artists are to bring their own references and supplies. (Note: see the project and material list. Pre-drawing paintings ahead of time is optional, however, alterations may be necessary once you hear about the projects in person).


Please bring a painting or image of your work so I can see your style, very important. 


Material List:  Students are expected to bring their own materials and mediums. No materials will be provided. The following supplies are suggestions and may be altered according to your preferences.


Photo Reference: Students are to bring their own personal photography or other acquired photos and snap shots as painting reference. Include posed and un-posed references, faces, figures and or groups of two or more. Look for emotion in eyes, gesture or movement in figures, interesting groupings and background elements. Include photos of people that you don’t know but if you do know them pretend that you don’t! Photos of adults may be preferred over children but not limited to. 


• Paper: For watercolor - Cotton / 100% rag artists’ watercolor paper such as 140 lb. Arches or other known brands.  Single sheets of quality paper are preferred over watercolor blocks.  Sheet size is your choice and can range from full to quarter in a rectangle or square format. A variety of paper surfaces such as hot press, cold press or rough are helpful.  Your preferred surface for other mediums.


• Pigments: Work in the medium of your choice within limits of the host if not water based.


Watercolor pigments and palette:  If your palette contains only transparent and semi-transparent pigments please bring some semi-opaque and opaque pigments along.  Choose pigment colors and brands that suite you!  Include titanium white watercolor pigment.  Use your normal palette or consider a large palette as helpful.  Squeeze fresh pigments into the wells or reconstitute the pigment already in your palette with water.  (My travel palette is Miller’s Workhorse Traditional Watercolor Palette.  Home palette is Robert Woods.)


• Brushes: Use your normal brushes if you are comfortable with the results or bring a few flat brushes to experiment with, your choice of brand, borrow if needed.  (My FLAT brushes are 1”, 1½”, 2” Robert Simmons SkyFlow Flat, white).   


• Work surface: Your preference; a board slightly elevated about 6” on a tabletop or a floor easel. 


• Magnifying lens:  Optional: A magnifier called a loupe or a linen tester, 1” 6X magnification, is very helpful to see detail in printed photos. Some artists have their photos on an iPad instead.


Class Projects:


Face Project:  Every face has a story  

Approach the face as a work of art versus a traditional portrait. Look for photo references that denote demeanor.  This project will have you working on 3 individual faces simultaneously.  Reference the same face or three different faces.  Your choice of paper size but draw large so the measure from the chin to hairline is a minimum of 8” or fill a full sheet.    


Single Figure Project:  Obscured backgrounds harmonize with body language

Simplify facial features and focus on spontaneous brushwork to allude to the subject’s attitude, action or persona, body language or movement.  Drawing a single figure you will replace scenery with obscure linear design, shapes and brushwork.  Draw face size larger than 3”.  


Group of Figures Project:  Strength in numbers

Intentionally connect, intertwine or separate your subjects of 2 or more to show a relationship or non-relationship with one another.  Background objects, scenery or obscurity should play a supportive and purposeful role to the subject.  Draw face size larger than 3” if possible.  


(Optional) - Works in Progress:  A painting revisited – is it really finished?

Bring along a few of your paintings that you are willing to continue painting on.  Select pieces that are in progress or you are struggling with or even paintings you think might be finished.


Artist Motto: Lose your fear by imagining your piece is going in the trash!