Max Ginsburg Demo

Sunday I had the pleasure to help out with and attend the Max Ginsburg demo at the Whidbey Island Fine Art Studio. I didn’t take a ton of notes while watching the demo but I learned a lot by just watching how Mr Ginsburg worked.

Max Ginsburg Demo, setting up
Max getting setup

At this point Max was setting out his paints and getting comfortable. I was manning the video camera in the background which was projecting a close up image of max working on the wall to the left.

Max Ginsburg Demo, describing what he's going to do
Describing what he’s going to be doing

Max began by describing basically what he was going to do during the demo.

Max Ginsburg Demo, after 20 minutes
After the first 20 minutes

After the first 20 minutes Max has the basic drawing in. He measured very little and worked up the portrait with a focus on form rather than line. At the same time he was adjusting some of the values and keeping their shapes blocky yet separated into their respective groups, light area, shadow, etc..

Max Ginsburg Demo, lots of people
Lots of people at the demo

During each 5 minute break everyone would crowd up around his easel to try and get a closer look at his painting and take photos. It was actually a great opportunity to talk to the other artists coming to see Max work.

Max Ginsburg Demo, after 40 minutes
After 40 minutes

The change from the first 20 minutes was rather dramatic, and I’m amazed that the painting began to unfold so quickly because as I watched him paint he was working very slowly and methodically. He would talk about a section of the models face commenting on if it was light or dark or warm or cool, then place a stoke down based on his observations. Then after it was down he would evaluate and adjust that same stroke. The whole process was so slow yet very controlled and deliberate. I don’t believe there was any wasted effort while he was working.

Max Ginsburg Demo, Max and Mikki
Max and Mikki

Here are a few comments from Max that I wrote down.

  • “Use color to interpret values”
  • “You’ll not find bright colors in the shadow areas” When he says “bright” he was referring to the chroma of the color or rather it’s intensity.
  • “I switching to linseed oil to thin the paint after the first block in because it holds the paint better and doesn’t run”
  • At one point he mentions some of the brushes he uses. Raphael Paris Classic Bristle brushes. He said he likes these brushes because they have a lighter touch and he can lay wet paint on other wet paint easier.
  • “Softer brushes are better to blend with and stiffer brushes are better for details”
Max Ginsburg Demo, after 1 hour
After 1 hour of painting

The one comment that resonated with me the most about Max’s working method was when he said “Don’t do it unless you observe something in relation to it”. Again, this underscored the slow and deliberate working method he uses, in fact half of my notes are about how methodical he worked.

Max Ginsburg Demo, after 80 minutes
After 80 minutes of painting
Max Ginsburg Demo, closer 80 minutes
Closer picture of 80 minutes in

The interesting thing about this painting is that it doesn’t really capture Mikki’s likeness well and yet it has the same attitude in the face as Mikki had. I can see the same subtle expression. But most of all I can tell that even with the little time spent on this painting the skill employed was tremendous.

Max Ginsburg Demo, for sale painting by Max Ginsburg
One of the paintings Max had for sell

Max had a bunch of his painting sitting out for sale and all of them really showed his amazing skill.

Max Ginsburg Demo, max binsburg painting from life
Painted from life by Max
Max Ginsburg Demo, finished demo portrait
The completed painting after close to 2 hours of painting
Max Ginsburg Demo, palette
Max’s Palette

I always have in the back of my head this idea that if I just get the right or same materials as another amazing artist then I can paint as good as them. Well, I’m sure better material can help but I know that really its the hard work and time that you put into it that counts.

Max Ginsburg Supplies

OIL PAINT (Gamblin, Rembrandt and Windsor Newton)

  • Titanium White
  • Cadmium Yellow Lt. or Pale
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Cadmium Orange
  • Cadmium Red Pale or Lt.
  • Cadmium Red Deep
  • Alizarin Crimson
  • Raw Sienna
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Burnt Umber
  • Cadmium Green Lt., (Windsor Newton)
  • Cinnabar Green Medium (Rembrandt)
  • Viridian
  • Cerulean Blue
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Mars Black


  • Raphael ‐ Paris, (Type #3572 Bristle Filbert) Size #4, #6
  • Windsor Newton Lexington, Brights, Size #1, #2, #3
  • Silver Brush Renaissance (Type #7110)
  • Red Sable #1, #2


  • regular Linseed Oil
  • Turpenoid or Gamsol


Session Details