Portrait painting at Malibu Bluffs Park returns after pandemic

Malibu locals and participants paint family members for the last portrait painting sessions at the Michael Landon Center at Malibu Bluffs Park. Photo by Samantha Bravo/TMT.

For centuries, the Sight Size Method is a technique used by artists to construct realistic drawings. It has been used to teach anyone with any amount of drawing experience how to paint. 

Light is also a significant part of portrait painting. Using natural light can help artists capture shadows and produce a real-life painting. At first, some might not be able to visualize it. That’s where Swedish artist and longtime Malibu resident Inger Hodgson comes in. 

Hodgson finished teaching her four-session senior class at Malibu Bluffs Park, where participants were taught how to learn and master techniques using shadow patterns and the Sight Size drawing method. 

The afternoon class provided perfect lighting for participants to practice these techniques. With a class of five participants, Hodgson was able to provide one-on-one teaching and drawing techniques. 

Hodgson has run a portrait-drawing and painting workshop for the Malibu Art Association for almost two decades and several classes and commissions around Europe. 

Now a portrait painter on demand, Hodgson uses her knowledge and experience and teaches others her techniques. Hodgson has taught several classes at Malibu Bluffs Park Senior Center for many years; however, this was her first after COVID-19. 

Painting is also a way to express emotion and past experiences. While some used the pandemic to learn a new skill, Hodgson said it takes energy and motivation for many to paint after experiencing the Woolsey Fire in 2018.

“Yes, it is a good thing during COVID to paint, but not many had the energy because of the fire,” Hodgson said. 

Hodgson said most of the participants lost their homes during the fires, some losing their art studios, art supplies and personal collection. 

“People were having a hard time after their studio burnt, but I think it’s important for this group to get back to painting,” Hodgson said. “And we have become friends.”

Participant Tricia Newman attended all four sessions of Hodgson’s lessons and was completing her painting of her granddaughter, Camdyn Brooks, during the last art session.

“She’s only 18 months old and she’s using real sentences so it’s really cute,” Newman said. “Our teacher is an excellent museum-quality portrait artist who is teaching us how to do faces.”  

Participant Diana Benzaquen was painting her granddaughter and wanted to give the portrait to her daughter.

“Because of the [Woolsey] fire, we didn’t have these classes for a long time, so it’s really great to have it back again,” Benzaquen said. 

Benzaquen said her favorite feature on her granddaughter are her tiger-colored eyes. 

“What I did was I got my iPad and I blew [up] the photo and studied the eyes,” Benzaquen said. “I wanted to try to capture that for [her parents].” 

While participants took the last session to complete their artwork, Hodgson provided feedback and thanked her class for attending. 

Hodgson’s sessions are seasonal and she said she hopes to return in the fall for another session. For more information on instructor Hodgson, visit ingerhodgsonportraits.com.

Malibu will also be having a monthly Art Trek, which includes a different theme every month. March’s theme was “The Year of the Tiger,” and April’s theme was “Mexican Milago,” where participants used foil to emulate carved tin. 

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Malibu locals and participants paint family members for the last portrait painting sessions at the Michael Landon Center at Malibu Bluffs Park. Photo by Samantha Bravo/TMT.

The City of Malibu also recently welcomed seniors back with its upcoming programs and workshops. Visit malibucity.org/seniorcenter for more information.