3D Museum of Wonders

The 3D Museum of Wonders is a picture gallery devoted to 3-dimensional interactive illusions. “Three-Dimensional Pavement Art” in the western world and “Trick Art” in Asia were both invented at the same time and have grown at astounding rates. This … Continue reading

Classical Drawing

Pediment 600Classical Drawing

 The formal structure of classicism is rooted in the ancient principles of sacred geometry and the physical nature of human perception. No other artistic language has surpassed classicism in the ability to communicate form and space to a viewer, or to recount a narrative. Wenner will demonstrate how a classical drawing is both “abstract” in its formal structure and “pure” in design. He will show that the classical tradition is not a style, but a language of form based on a profound knowledge and appreciation of the physical universe and man’s participation in it.

Geometry and Design

Three different workshops are offered in geometry and design. Workshops can also be customized and combined to fit the needs of a particular group.

1. The Geometry of Creation

Divine perspective 600Creativity is the manifestation of an idea in the physical world and geometry is a symbolic representation of the forces that are used in nature and by humans in order to make ideas become “real”. This workshop explores the essence of duality, symmetry and proportion in order to gain a better understanding of the fundamental nature of design. The workshop will demonstrate the most fundamental historical geometrical constructions and show how they were used to solve design problems. Participants will gain a more thorough knowledge of how to design and proportion an original work to achieve a graceful, natural and harmonious effect.

2. Creating Pattern and Design 

http://kurtwenner.com/blog/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Hallcoffer-600.jpgHumans have created intricate and enthralling patterns and designs since the dawning of culture. Aided by powerful computer graphics tools, it has never been easier to design original patterns, and there have never been as many ways to produce them. At the same time, contemporary culture has a poverty of expression in pattern and design that has never existed in history. This workshop examines the geometric foundation of pattern and its relationship to creativity in the natural world and in human culture. It will demonstrate the geometry of the most fundamental forms of pattern, such as tiling, weaving, frieze patterns and wallpaper patterns.   Participants will learn contemporary, (digital), methods of designing, proportioning and propagating patterns as well as traditional methods for producing patterns as two and three-dimensional decorative works.

Entablature Design3. Proportioning

Proportion in art and architecture has been a topic of artistic discussions for millennia. The use of proportion in classical Greece has been held as the supreme example of beauty, but the neither the Renaissance nor later neoclassical periods were able to unlock the mystery of its method. The reason for this was the introduction in the 12th century of the Arabic system of numeration and calculation using the concept of zero. From that time on, Western Europe began to think and calculate in “rational” numbers that could be expressed by integers. The system of proportion in ancient Greece and Rome was based on irrational numbers that could be expressed easily enough in drawings and diagrams, but never in numbers. This workshop uncovers and explains the methodology of classical proportion. Participants will learn different approaches to proportioning any design from an architectural façade to a vase to an electronic keyboard using the classical technique.

Perspective and Illusion

Perspective Room 600One of the great myths of our time is that humans “see like a camera”. Photography is widely believed to be a major force in the demise of academic figurative traditions in the visual arts and in the birth of modernism. Humans do not see like camera, however, and before the invention of photography artists never felt responsible for replicating nature.  Perspective illusions are the outward projection of human experience and imagination from the back of the eye onto surfaces in the physical world. Wenner will discuss the history of illusion and demonstrate the mathematical solutions to ancient problems in depiction.

Architectural Proportioning and Decoration

villa eva blogEuropean art has left a mountain of astounding masterpieces in painting, sculpture, and architecture, but today it is often a mystery as to how these feats of human expression were accomplished. Classical architecture in the ancient world was based on precise mathematical principles of symmetry. Proportion is a form of symmetry that requires all of the parts of a building to maintain a precise relationship to the whole. Decorative elements of a building must therefore be designed and fabricated in order to make an architectural design into a unified work of art.  This lecture will discuss both the design and production of original architectural details.

The History and Technique of Pavement Art

  Reawakening the Renaissance- An Evening with Kurt Wenner

Pavement art has a rich, colorful and varied history that is often “simplified to the point of being wrong” by writers who have little personal experience with the various traditions or the protagonists. Wenner will describe the cultural roots and methods of the Italian madonnari, the German strassenmaler, and the British screevers. All of these cultural traditions have been used as a foundation for the current emergence of pavement art as a global artistic phenomenon, which still provides opportunities for artists and students. Rare photos and engravings of historical pavement artists will accompany the lecture/slideshow.

This talk will also provide an overview of the various techniques used in pavement art.


Painting and Color Theory

Four different workshops are offered in painting and color theory. Workshops can also be customized and combined to fit the needs of a particular group.

 1. Oil Painting and Trompe-l’oeil

St. Gerome 600Oil paint has traditionally been a favorite medium for rendering fine detail, luminous and illusionistic surfaces. Before the impressionist period artists used a technique of layering color, called glazing, to give a heightened sense of form and depth to their subjects. Painters started with a tonal image done in a limited number of earth colors to establish a strong sense of chiaroscuro– the movement from light to shadow. This under-painting technique was central to the final illusion. Once the first layer dried, more intense and varied colors were added in translucent layers. These were called glazes, because the first paint layers showed through them, (like glass). This workshop will present techniques for mixing under-painting palettes, creating under-paintings, mixing glazing palettes, and applying glazes to the under-painting. By learning to paint in layers, participants will gain greater control over a wider variety of color combinations and effects than are available in “alla prima” or “plein air” techniques. Participants will also learn some standard faux-finishing techniques as well as how to use them in illusionistic compositions.

2. Large-scale Murals and Paintings

Fall 600Artists can get commissions for a large works at any time in their career, but will they be ready for it? A large work of art is not just a small work enlarged; its design will require a different relationship to the viewers, a different color palette, and likely call for a different use of perspective. Projects for large works are usually planned in advance and may include presentation drawings for the client. Once a work is in production, it  usually requires materials, planning and techniques that are different from smaller works. Often it is impossible to “stand back” from a work and judge its effect during production due to scaffolding, or because the work must be executed in a different environment from where it will be displayed. Participants in this workshop will learn how a large work is designed and presented to the client as well as how the painting materials and color palette can be organized to facilitate its production.

3. Color Theory- Color Mixing

Colors 600During the Renaissance and the Baroque periods, color theory did not exist as we know it today. Artists knew how to mix the colors they desired, but had no unifying “theory” of hue, value and saturation similar to what we use today. In the twentieth century, Johannes Itten and Josef Albers developed the color theory we currently use. This theory organized colors well, but because the authors were abstract painters their theory was not concerned with the use of color to describe form and space. They were primarily concerned with flat “fields” of color and their influence on each other. The resulting lack of organization has resulted in the fact that current computer graphic color configurations are unable to correctly model skin tones, for example. This workshop explains the essentially proportional nature of color mixing, both as a digital model and using artists’ pigments. Participants will learn how to construct a full palette of balanced colors that can better describe form and space. They will also better understand how to work with digital color configurations.

4. From Nature to the Studio

center600Before the diffusion of photography, artists seldom attempted to make finished paintings directly from nature. Instead, they created numerous sketches, tonal drawings, watercolors and sometimes fairly loose oil sketches. They would return to the studio with these and begin to compose a large-scale finished painting from their visual “notes” and their memories of the days or weeks they spent “on site”. The final finished and highly crafted work of art was not meant to “capture a moment” but tell a larger story of their extended experience with the landscape. Ironically, the diffusion of photography seemed to prompt artists to actually try and “capture the moment”. Thus landscape painting moved from an activity that had little in common with photography, (although the finished works were intensely realistic in their effect); to a process of painting that was more like photography in its attempt to capture temporal reality, although the technique was more “painterly”. This workshop will propose a return to the earlier artistic process. Participants will create a number of studies directly from nature, then compose them into a studio work that tells the story of their experience rather than attempting to capture a “snapshot” version of that experience.

Pastels and Pavement Art

Two different workshops are offered in pastels and pavement art. Workshops can also be customized and combined to fit the needs of a particular group.

1. Pavement Art and Technique

Pavement Art Demo 600Pavement art is a unique visual art form that allows the artist to share the process of creating a work directly in front of the public. This workshop will provide demonstrations of traditional and contemporary techniques, focusing on the fluid and elegant development of a work from the drawing stage through the color rendition. Participants will learn about the drawing materials and techniques of pavement art, as well as about the preparation of surfaces and the unusual performance aspects involved in creating a work in front of the public. The workshop will also discuss the related concepts of interactivity and social networking.

2. The Complete Pastel

5.02 Handmade PastelsPastel is an extremely flexible medium that lends itself to an amazing variety of artistic expressions and styles, ranging from delicate finely blended portraits to large, bold and expressive drawings. Pastels are easy to store and carry and are one of the easiest and most economical mediums to make in the studio. By learning to make pastels and prepare drawing surfaces, the creative possibilities become endless. Participants in this workshop will learn to make a balanced palette of pastels and prepare drawing surfaces along with different techniques for developing pastel drawing and painting.


Three different workshops are offered in drawing. Workshops can also be customized and combined to fit the needs of a particular group.

1. Introduction to Master Drawing

Adam in TimelapseA master drawing is not just an “exceptionally good” version of a normal drawing; it is a completely different language of expression. The artist that wishes to master the art of drawing in the European classical tradition must first understand it as a visual language of form and space that is completely formal and abstract. Participants in this workshop will learn how to not only observe and notate an object with drawing, but to reconstruct and describe it within this extremely effective language of communication. The workshop is designed to provide a path to true mastery of drawing by changing the way participants think about observation and communication.

2. Perspective and the Human Form

Giant 600Drawing figures in deep perspective has been an intriguing artistic challenge since the Italian Renaissance. Classical drawing employs a rich variety of visual cues that use the anatomical forms of the human body to lead the eye back into pictorial space. Known as foreshortening, this drawing technique is more a collection of symbols, social conventions and visual cues than a result of experience and observation. The workshop will focus on historical examples of foreshortening in painting and drawing, as well as contemporary solutions. Participants will learn to understand the visual devices they must use to communicate the movement of form into space to the viewer. Foreshortening in the context of wide angle, anamorphic and hyperbolic perspective will also be demonstrated.

3. The Art of Chiaroscuro

Seneca 600The Italian word chiaroscuro refers to the movement between light and shadow in a painting or drawing, also known as tonality. Light and shadow are perhaps the most significant visual cues an artist has to communicate the dimensionality of form on a flat surface. Painting and drawing have the possibility of communicating form and space to a viewer with even greater force and clarity than photography because the artist has complete control over the image. Chiaroscuro goes beyond simply describing forms; it can also describe the quality of the light source itself and the nature of the pictorial space. The ability to compose light and shadow is perhaps the most evocative and effective tool in the artist’s arsenal. Participants will learn to manipulate light and shadow in order to increase the drama and atmosphere of their compositions.

Here is a link to a time-lapse demonstration.

Perspective and Illusion

Five different workshops are offered in perspective and illusion. Workshops can also be customized and combined to fit the needs of a particular group.

1. A New Perspective

Neptune tonal 600From its early development in the 15th century to its golden age in the European baroque, linear perspective offered a radically new way to represent reality. Perspective is often thought of as a way to represent objects, but what it really does is define the position of the viewer. From a single point in space, anything that exists in three dimensions can be represented on a plane- even infinity. When the geometry of perspective was incorporated into the study of technical drawing, and further reduced to the limited viewing angles of photography and optics, it lost much of its creative potential. This workshop explores the very foundation of perspective geometry and the artistic possibilities it offer outside of its conventional form. Participants will learn how to define the relationship of the viewer to a work so that the picture plane can be opened into the vast spaces of the artist’s imagination.

2. Perspective Seminar for Animation

perspective study 600With the invention of CGI, (computer graphics imaging), traditional animation is used far less than during its golden age. Often, however, it is still desirable to create the matte painting by hand. This may be for reasons of cost, for aesthetic reasons or to indicate infinite or vast environments, which cannot be modeled in computer space. Interfacing the two and three-dimensional elements in an animated work can be challenging, but also provides an artistic opportunity. This course will focus on wide-angle perspective environments that result in interesting perspective movements when programmed into a CGI environment, or simply photographed with a conventional lens using swing and tilt. Participants will learn to construct perspective environments that lend themselves to being filmed as backgrounds to CGI constructed figures, or as artistic expressions in themselves.

3. Illusion and Optics

visual field 600Ever since the invention of photography it has become increasingly popular to create images, which combine two-dimensional artwork with three-dimensional objects and spaces. From the tableaux of early photography to the perspective illusions of cinema, reality has been combined with art then documented with photography. With the development of the Internet and social media, the possibilities and uses for perspective illusions and trompe-l’oeil have exploded. This workshop explores techniques for the transformation of environments using perspective illusions that are specifically designed for photography and social media. Participants will learn how to design and execute an illusion for a specific environment and document the illusion along with real-life participants. Methods of image capture and media dissemination will be explored.

4. Composing with Form and Space

VisitBritain 600Pictorial composition and the way pictures are critically judged today is very much a 21st century cultural phenomenon. In earlier centuries art was judged on its utility and the beauty of its execution rather than on abstracted qualities of design. Because the study of composition grew up during the era of modernism, much attention has been given to the graphic qualities of a work, such as are listed in the elements of design, which tend to be treated as two-dimensional considerations. This workshop focuses on compositional techniques that bring the eye in and out of the pictorial “space” rather than merely moving over the painted surface. Participants will also focus on the technical and aesthetic aspects of composing forms in space, such as atmospheric and linear perspective along with a consistent treatment of light and shadow. The workshop will also discuss the formal and spatial relationships of large works to specific environments.

5. Multi-Plane Perspective

Pompei Drawing 600The European baroque period was famous for opulent theater sets that would use multiple painted flats to give a single architectural illusion. Other painted works also continued a single theme or illusion across different walls, across the ceiling or even filled entire rooms with a continuous composition. This workshop explores the geometry of perspective as it can be applied across a variety of surfaces. Participants will learn how to find different vanishing points as the perspective lines travel from one surface to another, as well as how to “break up” a single composition onto multiple surfaces. The workshop will also explore the possibility of creating smaller surfaces that align with larger spaces to create illusions of dizzying height and