Jeffrey R. Watts

Jeffrey R. Watts: Gypsy Spirit


Video Length: 2 Hours 40 Minutes
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Jeffrey Watts teaches traditional drawing and painting in his Atelier near San Diego, CA; however, he personally chooses to paint in a style reminiscent of the famous Russian artist, Nicolai Fechin.

Watch while Jeff demonstrates his nationally recognized expertise in that style while doing this 3/4 head study in the style of a gestural portrait, while fully explaining his actions and thoughts during the process.

The focus of this program, Gypsy Spirit, lies somewhere between that of his first video, At the Opera, which was a lengthy, full-length portrait, and that of Gesture Portraits. 

Although Jeff still calls this video a Gesture Portrait, it's finished to a much greater degree than the quicker portrait series done in his previous "Gesture Portrait" video. This gives him the opportunity to discuss the foundation of his approach to a greater extent while applying tiles of color in a thick, gestural, alla prima (wet into wet) method of painting, blending on the face just enough to give it a "painterly" appearance while, at the same time, maintaining the "loose" and abstract look for which he is so well known.

By his description, he uses an "uncontrolled palette" that he describes as an "opened range of colors that include warms & cools of all primaries with supplemental colors added for the purpose of painting speed." He applies these colors using a wide selection of brushes and palette knives, while looking, analyzing, and then taking the appropriate action to:

  • get an accurate drawing,
  • lay in abstract color,
  • create and maintain spatial relationships of lights, darks and middle values,
  • then to finesse the edges to make his "finished" statement.


Jeff spends extra time discussing the importance and order of developing edges, values and shapes first, then adding color to "bring the painting to life", all for the purpose of explaining the general concepts of making a painting look 3-dimensional on a 2-dimensional surface, as he feels that these important concepts are either seldom taught or poorly communicated.

His intention is for the painting to have a "loose," un-rendered look by using a variety of methods and tools, including palette knives. While the previous video, Gesture Portraits, demonstrated similar techniques on quite a few models, this video is limited to one model, thus giving him the extra time to bring the painting to a more "finished" state.
-Ralph Liliedahl