Painting Still Life in Chiaroscuro with Dasa Pierce

Learn the secrets of the great masters such asDaVinci, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Leffel, and others in creating powerful paintings!  Chiaroscuro isthe bold contrast of dark and light as amethod of painting that has been used by artists since the renaissance to create drama and the illusion of volume in modeling objects.  We will explore and emulate this dramatic way of painting to create our own masterpiece.

Date: Dec. 13th, and 20th
Time: 9:30am-4:00pm 
Cost: $120 or 4 class tickets(total 4 sessions)
Pre Sign-up Required.

Open for registration now.
Call 941-753-7755

GOALS:  The goal is to complete a chiaroscuro painting with a focus on dramatic lighting effect. We will focus on painting not the objects, but rather the abstract beauty of the light emerging from the darkness. Each session will prepare us for each next step. The instructor will demo each step. By the end of each 4 sessions, the student will

  • Finish a strong 3 dimensional chiaroscuro still life painting
  • Create a meaningful abstract underneath the realism using classical still life objects
  • Be able to clearly separate the light from the darks, and unify each
  • Create a clear focal point in the painting with additional supporting points of interest which keep the viewer in the painting

Session 1:  Composition

We will define chiaroscuro, examining a few prominent chiaroscuro painters and their paintings. We will discuss and demo setting up the still life. The student will compose a compelling still life, focusing on how the light reads through the set up. A focal point will be emphasized and the student will learn how to lead the viewer through the painting.  We will plan our block-ins using notans in the chiaroscuro tradition, and begin the block in.

Session 2:  5 Value System Block-in

The goal will be to complete a strong block-in.  The student will learn to unify the darks and create a single point light source.  The importance of a limited 5 values system in chiaroscuro paintings will be discussed and a 5 value monochromatic block-in will be executed.

Session 3: Color

We will be using a limited palette so that the student will not only learn how to use primary colors effectively, but also shortcuts to mixing any color. The student will also receive guidance in how to keep the colors clean and bright. The student will learn the importance of making and applying distinct color. We will be applying these principles directly to our painting.

Session 4: Brushwork, Unification and Details

Soft and hard edges – We will learn where to put them and how to make them, how to maintain 3D with exit clauses, and how to “spill” the light from objects so they seem to glow. We will also learn when and where to apply thin and thick paint, in addition to learning to use the palette knife for special effects such as lines, scraping, and creating interesting highlights. Finally, we will look at the whole, and re-evaluate what we need to “push and pull” to strengthen the painting.  This will include such things as evaluating and adjusting our lightest lights and darkest darks, unifying the highlights across all forms, unifying the resting space, and subordinating all that is not part of the light flow within the painting. This session will focus on reaching our original concept.


Titanium white

Ivory Black

Cadmium yellow light

Cadmium red light

Ultramarine Blue

Yellow Ocher

Burnt Sienna


10” X 14” Ampersand board, or white canvas (cotton or linen)

Brushes, palette, paper towels (viva is best)

Palette knife – medium and long lengths

Medium – stand oil