Colour at Incamminati

written by Sophie | Materials & Technique
Studio Incamminati

In the past couple of blog articles I have been exploring colour a little. But there is this one place that celebrates colour like no other. That is the Studio Incamminati; a school of art in Philadelphia, founded by the late colourist Nelson Shanks and his wife Leona. Their work and the school celebrate the techniques and skills of the old masters. The school follows the atelier system of teaching art, working in small groups and following a rigorous curriculum of drawing and painting. As they write on their school website:

"Its unique curriculum fuses the classical drawing and painting traditions of the Renaissance masters, the luminous color of the Impressionists and a fresh, contemporary sensibility."

Last year the school organised a painting face-off; or, to put in other words, a demonstration of three artists working from the same model. The 4-hour demonstration was filmed live and published on Youtube.  I thoroughly enjoyed watching it; not only did I learn much, it also inspired me to immediately grab my paints.  

The video might seem long, but I promise you it is time well spent. Although I will never visit the school, as I am too far away in England, it is great to be able to enjoy such amazing painting demonstrations. 

Why watch this video?

This video is a 4 hour demonstration by 4 fantastic artists who, although each working well within the Incamminati philosophy, each have their own unique approach and techniques. It is fascinating to watch them work and to see the  different approaches side by side in real time. The commentators provide valuable extra info about what they are doing and why. 

It would be a treat to see any of these three artists paint a portrait individually, but to watch three of them at the same time is more than just a triple treat. The value of seeing different techniques, materials and approaches at the same time cannot be underestimated. Every time you get swept away in the process of one artist, the camera and commentators move to another artist. You instantly get refreshed by the different approach. Each time we move on from one artist to the next we can see how different methods work equally well. 

The three artist are each a joy to watch. They are all Studio Incamminati instructors and of course professional artists: Kerry Dunn, Lea Colie Wight and Darren Kingsley. Commentators: Dan Thompson, Natalie Italiano

Basically I am writing this blog post to tell you this:

You gotta watch this!

Click the video below to start

Kerry Dunn

Artist who lives and works in Philadelphia and studied with Nelson Shanks at Studio Incamminati. He is an active promotor of the atelier system and the methods of the old masters. His work feels thoroughly modern however, and is full of colour.  Recent work explores the nude. He is a tutor at the Studio Incamminati.

Lea Colie Wight

Lea studied at the Studio Incamminati and now teaches there. She is from Philadelphia. Her paintings are beautiful and still depictions of figures or still life. She works in oils as well as pastel.

Darren Kingsley

Another Incamminatie alumnus, specialising in beautiful tonal work. His figure drawings are highly classical and truly beautiful. His oil paintings feature many figure paintings as well as food still life.

The Demonstration

I was particularly inspired by Lea's use of hard pastels and her bold and expressive mark making. It spurred me on to work harder and try out different techniques. Of course the other two artists created equally amazing paintings. 

Which of the three  artists did inspire you the most?

Studio Incamminati

Darren Kingsley at work

Studio Incamminati

Studio Incamminati

For more than a decade, Studio Incamminati has been in the forefront of the burgeoning contemporary realist art movement. Founded by Nelson and Leona Shanks, it is now recognized nationally and internationally for its rigorous curriculum, accomplished instructors and diverse outreach efforts.

The school, modeled on the traditional Italian accademia and French atelier, is committed to the belief that mastery of technique is essential to creative expression. Its innovative curriculum fuses classical traditions of the Renaissance era masters, luminous color of the Impressionists and a fresh, contemporary sensibility. Its goal is to produce highly skilled artists who call upon their training and abilities to create art with depth of purpose. Its artists, faculty and alumni have been featured at numerous prominent venues including exhibitions at the National Arts Club, NYC; S.R. Brennen Galleries, Santa Fe, and Philadelphia’s Comcast Center.

Even the school’s name is filled with symbolism. In Italian, “Incamminati” means “moving forward” and invokes the spirit of its namesake studio founded by the Renaissance artist, Annibale Carracci. Studio Incamminati, one of the few schools of its type accredited by the National Associations of Schools of Art and Design, fulfills its vision in a number of ways. In addition to its core Advanced Fine Art Program, the school offers workshops open to the general public both in Philadelphia and with the In Your Town programs nationwide. Other programs serve school-age artists and art educators.

All images are stills from the Youtube video.

Studio Incamminati

Lea cole Wight at work

Published: June 12, 2018

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  1. Many thanks for drawing our attention to this video Sophie. Having done a couple of courses at LARA, I find the Studio Incamminati approach to colour really interesting – especially having recently expanded my own colour palette. Many thanks. M

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