March 4-5, 2017
Still life Composition & Painting Workshop


David Cheifetz Studio, Seattle

Saturday and Sunday: 10am-5pm (lunch break 1-2pm)

Tuition: $309 non-refundable

Limited to 6 students.


We will work together on still life composition, brush painting, and knife painting. 

ALL SKILL LEVELS. I adjust my advice for each person’s level. More advanced students will find it easier to focus on the subtleties of composition. A drawing background is recommended.

Saturday morning:

Composition! I will work individually with each student to compose a still life setup. The goal will be to create compositions with a powerful sense of focus. This is an important stage and we will give it some thought. I also encourage students to listen to the composition problems faced by fellow students--it is a great way to learn and process. If you are finished earlier than others with your setup, you can begin setting out your paints.

The rest of Saturday:

After everyone has a good setup, I will explain my own composition and intentions, then I will begin a demo of my painting method and answer questions while I paint. The more questions the better. At some point I’ll stop and everyone will begin on their own paintings and I will circulate to help each person.


You will paint and I will circulate. I will periodically come back to my demo. Depending on the needs of the group I may also decide to do quick demo-ettes such as a piece of fruit just to show effective turning of a round form. However, priority is given to your work time so that I can give you practical advice. You may choose to create a new composition each day if you like, or you may dig in and get to a more finished stage. I love talking about composition, and the beginning stages are so important, so I encourage more starts. That is how I was taught, and it did wonders for me.

Note: I would hope that you are not overly concerned with producing sellable work during the workshop as it will hinder learning. If you end up with something great, that is a bonus, but I don’t want students to feel rushed or obsessed with production. I am mostly concerned with communicating some key concepts in a way that really sinks in. I want this knowledge to be useful for you later on. We will work hard and enjoy the process together.

Supply list:

-Small Portable easel with a compact footprint. We have limited space.

-A few black cloths AND white cloths.

To use as your still life background/surface cloth (and to provide extra shade for your setup if necessary). This is an important step in the composition process. Any normal cotton cloth is great.

-Holbein MX no 1 painting knife or Holbein 1066S-303 painting knife. Both are excellent...303 is a little smaller and more delicate.

If you have no intention of knife painting, you can stick with brushes. But I will be teaching both. I love both.

-Filbert Natural Bristle Brushes, a variety of sizes.

Good brands are Robert Simmons Signet filbert, Trekell Hog bristle filbert, Jack Richeson Signature. When painting with brushes I use the whole range, but my workhorse is usually size 4. To make things simple, you can just get some even numbers: 2,4,6,8....

-Solvent: Gamsol.

-Medium: Gamblin Neo-Megilp

-Paint list:

Be sure to avoid student grade brands (like winton etc): the oily handling properties and weak pigmentation will hinder your progress. I like Winsor Newton Artist's Oils and there are plenty of decent brands in that price range. If you'd like to experiment with a fast drying paint, I really enjoy W&N Griffin Alkyds.

ivory black

phthalo blue

ultramarine blue

alizarin crimson

cadmium red

cadmium orange (Winsor Newton Artist’s Oils preferred)

burnt umber

raw umber

yellow ochre

cadmium yellow (Winsor Newton Artist’s Oils preferred)

cadmium lemon

a quality white (I mostly use titanium)

-A variety of toned panels to paint on. Some different sizes: 8x10, 9x12, 11x14, bigger if you like, maybe a square if you want. It is nice to have a choice while composing. I’ll probably demo on 9x12

My favorite is Ampersand Gessobord or Jack Richeson Premium Gessoed Hardboard. Raymar or Trekell linen panels are also fantastic. No Mona Lisa/Speedball panels, they are far too slick. Tone the panels in advance of the workshop to make sure they are totally dry. Can't go wrong with an umber color. Often I like to prep a few in different tones and then make a game-time decision.

-Paper towels. I like Viva or those blue shop towels, both are thick and cloth-like.

-Your other basics...palette, container for gamsol, gloves, whatever else you need. Gamsol will be provided to those that need to fly in.