Sharon Sandberg

Still Life Workshop

August 19th – September 2nd, 2013

I would like to think that all of the students enrolling in this Still Life Workshop have had considerable experience in basic drawing and also have had some background in painting. This being said, I would expect and welcome a variety of levels of competence in the group. A willingness to work with a limited palette is preferred as we will explore the flexibility and advantages of mixing a smaller number of tube colors in order to create a range of muted to intense hues as well as a range of values.

(A suggested list of materials and oil pigments will follow this class description.)


The class will meet on Monday. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. The studio sessions will begin between 8:30 AM & 9AM, when we will meet for demonstrations, focus on goals for the day discuss the work from the day before and paint until about mid-day. We will break for lunch and re-assemble in the late afternoon to continue on independent work in the studio or in the landscape for as long as the light allows. There will be ample opportunity for one on one consultations through arrangement with me.

Some evenings will end in the hotel conference room with slide lectures given by various visiting artists and faculty… as well as Israel Hershberg.

Thursdays are scheduled for excursions to Bologna to see the Morandi Museum and Florence. Weekends are free to paint, relax or to take the one hour train ride to Rome and other places of interest.


The major emphasis of this workshop will be on Still Life arrangement, color mixing and the juxtaposition of empty space to figurative complexity. This encompasses the choice of objects/motifs, various arrangement strategies, compositional simplification and the development of each student’s unique vision. Except for initial exercises, we will all be searching for plain, non-pretentious objects to paint during our general, daily routine in Civita Castellana… as well as on excursions to Rome. Given our location, some students may move from Still life to Landscape, finding the abstraction in the landscape as in the still life…finding the ratio of muted color to saturated hue, searching for the un-namable color through a limited palate, activating the negative areas of empty space through shape and mark making. We will be focusing on viewing the subject from general to specific and attempting to keep the image open and flexible until a resolution is achieved.


As a supplement to studio sessions, we will look at, and discuss, images of work produced by recognized masters of the genre… analyzing factors involved in the production of these successful paintings.


We will approach our work following procedural attitudes of: “general to specific”, “keeping the matrix open” and letting the image tell the painter “what it wants to be”. We will not expect careful rendering. If precision is the end result, it will be an “emergent” and not found at the initial stages of any given project.


Although people work at various speeds, I would assume that we will be doing relatively simple compositions at first, leading to more complex solutions at the end. (On the other hand, I can envision just the opposite taking place. I will adjust to each student as an individual.) An emphasis will be put on process, rather than product.


Oil paint is the preferred medium. Generally, we can expect to be working on rather small, wooden panels or canvases. This is not a hard and fast rule. You may work on any size or shape you wish; just keep in mind the matter of shipping to your home destination. I would recommend gessoed, prepared surfaces such as heavy duty (stiff) gessoed water color paper or small gessoed panels. Ampersand offers a conveniently prepared small panel that easily fits in a suitcase, although a number of them can become heavy, as they are made from thin masonite.

Each student must bring their own Field easel/ French easel and brushes (both hog bristle and sable are acceptable), a hand-held FLAT palette or piece of masonite, a pallet knife (2 is even better!) and a small tin cup or closeable jar. Turpentine solvents will be available in Italy. YOU CANNOT TAKE TURPENTINES or SOLVENTS ON A PLANE. Small torn pieces of cloth are very useful as paint rags.