Ellen Cooper Class #2: The Envelope

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I was really excited to start painting for class #2.

Ellen began her painting process with what she called the “envelope.”  Ellen defines the “envelope” as:  “A few lines that envelop the form.”

The envelope becomes the outside boundary of the form or subject matter that you are painting.  By keeping your subject inside the envelope (boundary), you ensure that the entire form will be on the canvas, including hands, feet, elbows, etc .  For example, the model’s foot could be at the furthermost bottom of the composition and when you enclose it in an envelope you may see that you placed the form too close to the bottom of the canvas.  If you made this mistake, you can correct it easily by redrawing the envelope in a better location.  It would be five minutes well spent redrawing the envelope, instead of days wasted painting the model in the wrong place on the canvas.

We repeatedly practiced five minute poses drawing envelopes.

This is a completely different and new way for me to start a painting.  It is really hard for me because it’s so unfamiliar.



Shelli Alford is an artist and author, who enjoys learning from master oil painters from around the world and reviewing their classes, workshops and demonstrations.

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