Updated: Feb 2
Keith Ciaramello Painting Class Review
Learning is essential for any artist. I’ve taken art courses online and in person. I tend to take real-deal art classes at least once a year ranging from $20-$700 depending on intensity. On two occasions, I took an acrylic painting course with Tattoo artist Keith Ciaramello. The first session was a real hike for me driving over to Far Far Far Rockaway. I’m a cartoonist and Caricature artist but learning to paint is essential for any visual artist. Many of the concepts are universal. Keith is a 70s-80s era heavy metal loving, Italiano, tattoo artist and he paints his ass off. I first met Keith through an artist mentorship program called NoahU. Plus he designed one of the WWE title belts in the 2000s and that counts for me.
Great Acrylic Painting Materials List.
He sent out a list of resources to buy. Here is the thing I learned with fine art with painting, get the expensive “artist grade” paints https://www.art-is-fun.com/acrylic-paint/. Keith showed me some techniques that can make an acrylic painting look like an oil painting. The new paints that are out are really advanced compared to the “student grade” muck we used in school days. There is still a place for the student grade paints or the little craft paint bottles though. If I’m doing a mural or a project at home that needs a lot of coverage I’ll opt for the cheaper paints. You can get his full materials list from his instagram at https://www.instagram.com/tattoosbykeith/ When I was painting, the colors were not building and layering like Keith’s demo piece at the front of the room. I could tell something was wrong with my paints. I had made the tragic mistake of bringing in less than excellent paints. Failure. Fortunately, the people that were taking the class with me shared their premium supply and I hardly missed a beat. Success!
Working to get done.
One goal of the class is to leave with a finished piece of art work. Keith sells a ton of prints and is drawing everyday, so he works to get done. That’s the kind of attitude every artist needs to have. First thing, we set up our easels with our 16 x 20 canvas. Set up our paints. Then Keith walked us through how to look for and use reference material. The first class we painted Frankenstein’s monster. Keith provided photos, we used one photo for lighting reference, one for color reference and another for expression. In a nut shell the process is, lay down the background. He has lots of techniques for different paint splattery and dripping effects. Next plot out the drawing proportions. For Hellboy, we were going for a symmetrical composition where Frankenstein was more organic. Next, sketch out the forms using a pencil or a paint brush. Then the painting really begins. Building forms, establishing light sources. Meanwhile, Ciaramello is spitting jokes and obscure 70’s & 80s music references. But his art technique knowledge is impressive he will talk about how the new masters paint like Frazetta and Sebastian Krüger.
Master of his Craft
Whenever I get the chance to meet with someone a couple of steps ahead of me career wise, and there is an opportunity to show my work, I take it. They will always see something that you don’t. Keith has a great eye for detail. When reviewing one of my recent digital paintings he screamed “what the hell is that?!?” He point directly to an eclipse I drew using photoshop tools instead of just using the brush tool. I couldn’t see a difference, but he could from a mile away. He also gave tons of tattoo design critiques, which was really interesting to listen to. He has his own Tattoo technique DVD set. Keith Ciaramello is a true Master of Ink.
Hellboy Progress Shots for the Second Class
The Hellboy Acrylic Painting Class
Great Environment, this is not Michael’s
Each class had a great group of people learning. When I draw and create animations at home it can be isolating. Getting out and creating with a group of new people can be an invigorating change. Everyone here has the positive creative energy to create something. You are side by side with tattoo artists, airbrush artists and people just starting out in their craft. It’s best to just relax and just go with the flow. If you are just starting out and are going to learn, you might as well learn right from the beginning. If you want to take the next class, check Keith out on instagram. https://www.instagram.com/tattoosbykeith/ Cheers! Chris