narrative painting


session 2

June 20, 2022 – july 1, 2022


One of the most important considerations regarding building narratives in ones work is to consider the actions and expressions of the people depicted. In the oft quoted work Ars Poetica written by Horace, painting is declared to be the sister art poetry in the famous expression “ut pictura poesis” or “as is painting, so is poetry”. At the heart of this idea that influenced many in the Renaissance and beyond, is the idea that human expression through action is one of the cornerstones for developing themes in art.

Carl Dobsky

Carl Dobsky


Using this idea as a starting point for building an image, different strategies will be discussed on how to pose and represent life models in order to create studies that can be used in creating narrative works. Over the course of workshop, students will develop a painting from the life model with a focus on the action the pose portrays and how to incorporate it into a setting. The inspiration and guidance that is found in many of the works of art that can be viewed firsthand in Rome, and how the ideas and techniques used can be employed in one’s own work, will be discussed at length. Lectures concerning the principles of light and form, compositional arrangement, as well as shape and proportion, will be given throughout the course.


Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about this workshop. If you have a question that isn’t addressed in the workshop description or these faqs, use the “Ask a Question”  button and we will be happy to get you the information!


What experience level is this workshop for?

It would be good to have previous experience in figure drawing or a drawing background with an emphasis on the representation of shape, proportion and volume.

Do I need to have worked with multiple figures in a painting before taking this workshop?

No previous experience with multi-figure composition is necessary. The focus of the workshop will be to show how to arrange figures together in a single image. We will be addressing all of the fundamentals of this, so wherever you’re at, you’ll be sure to get lot out of it.


We will be in the studio approximately 5-6 hours. In addition to the time in the studio we will be going to look at some of the amazing art around Rome together.