Saturday, June 28, 2008

"La Belle Astrid"

Huile sur panneau de bois chantourné / Oil on cut out panel.

25" x 23"

Philadelphia workshop - Lighting techniques for photo references.

Philadelphia Workshop

Philadelphia portrait artists participated in a workshop given by award-winning portrait and figurative artist Marina Dieul. Marina's day-long class included portrait painters Alex Tyng, John Ennis, Ellen and Addie Cooper, Garth Herrick, Jim Himsworth, Barbara Lewis, and Simon Mauer.

The group met Marina at the Portrait Society of America's Conference in Philly earlier this year. Impressed with her talent and expertise in minimalist photography they organized the workshop and invited her to share her unique methods of creating fine quality photographic reference for portrait painting with lightweight, inexpensive equipment and accessories.

Traveling portrait artists know the burden of lugging heavy, bulky equipment, especially since airline restrictions have become limiting. Sittings often must be completed in a short amount of time and under less than ideal lighting conditions. Marina's minimalist approach helps relieve these burdens, allowing artists to focus more on their creative process

The workshop centered around the idea of the off-camera flash, a technique that is touted by photographers on such web sites as A portrait painter herself, Marina has adapted many of the photographer-oriented techniques for the artist’s use, demonstrating how to vary the temperature, sharpness/softness, intensity and angle of light, using a variety of techniques and accessories. These accessories she has chosen carefully for their compatibility, versatility, and portability. Some of them she has designed and created herself out of inexpensive materials, at least one from a cereal box.

Recognizing that poor quality reference leads to poor quality art, Dieul emphasizes the importance of mastering photographic skills, but she is by no means encouraging the idea that painting is merely the slavish copying of photographs. On the contrary, she believes that by understanding how to create the highiest quality reference, artists can achieve more control over their artistic vision. In her own work, Dieul's commitment to excellent photographic reference is an integral first step in an artistic process that far surpasses the reference.

Following the all-day photo workshop the artists met the next day at the Philadelphia Sketch Club, where Marina agreed to pose for a live painting session.

Born into a family of French and Canadian artists, Marina Dieul received a degree in Fine Arts in France. Since that time she has won an impressive number of awards, most notably the Grand Prize at the Junction Art Festival in Toronto, Honorable Mention from the Portrait Society of Canada, and First Place in Dry Media Category from the Richeson Portrait and Figure Competition. Her work was also honored by The Artist’s Magazine, International Artist Magazine, and the ARC Salon Competition. Dieul is an honorary member of the Gallery of Canadian Drawing Masters, Drawing Society of Canada. Recently her work was featured in the exhibition “A Portrait: The Face we Present to the World,” John B. Aird Gallery, Toronto. Her work combines sensitive and iconic portraits with still life and trompe-l’Oeil.

(Photo: Garth Herrick)

Fusain et conté sur papier aquarellé / Charcoal and conté on watercoloured paper.

10" x 14"


Fusain et sanguine / Charcoal and sanguine

12" x 16"

"The Bell"

Fusain et sanguine / Charcoal and sanguine

16" x 20"

Canadian Brushstroke Magazine
Sept/Oct issue

Receives award certificate:

Montreal, QC
The Bell, Charcoal and Conté, 20 x 16”

I’m a tonalist, and I’m never satisfied if I don’t have a
full range of values, says Marina Dieul. “For this
reason, I like to add some white accessory, and to
sculpt my subject with light on a dark background. I
worked with four colors: charcoal, and three colors of
conté: sanguine, red and white.”
“This drawing is also about textures, the softness of
the fur and hair against the roughness of the old
Chinese bell, all this enveloping the mysterious gaze
of this little girl.”
Dieul studied Fine Arts in France but she is selftaught
concerning figurative arts. She received an honorable
mention in the Portrait Society of Canada’s
competition, won first prize in the Richeson Portrait
and Figure competition, Grand Prize in Junction Art
competition ( Toronto), and has been finalist in numerous
She is a professional portrait artist specializing in
babies’ and children’s portraits.
You can email her at or see
more of her work at .