Teachers of a Self-Guided Artist: Sean Cheetham

This is the sixth in a series of portraits called Teachers of a Self-Guided Artist. Check out the intro post The Self-Taught Myth to read more about it.

Sean Cheetham has the dubious honour of being the only teacher in this series (so far) who I’ve actually met and studied from in real life.

I think I might have first heard of Sean when he was a guest artist in Jason Seiler’s The Complete Artist book, back in 2013. I started following him on Instagram, and every time he posted one of his demo portraits I thought I really need to learn how he does that. But I was always disappointed to find he didn’t have any online demos available, and his method remained a mystery to me for several years.

Who is Sean Cheetham?

Sean Cheetham is an artist and teacher from California. He earned a B.F.A. degree with honors from Art Center College of Design, in Pasadena. His work has been exhibited internationally, and he teaches regular workshops in the US and Europe.

Learning from Sean

When I heard that Sean would be teaching a second workshop in Menorca in 2019, I started to think about attending. Around the same time, he released an online video demo through East Oaks Studio, and I was finally able to learn a bit about his painting technique.

That video showed me what a great teacher Sean is, and made up my mind about going to the Menorca workshop, which was an unbelievable experience, as I mentioned in my write-up after I got home.

I learnt so much from Sean, but above all I learnt how to organise my palette and follow a methodical and efficient painting process. Some painting demos can be pretty confusing, with a chaotic process that is hard to reproduce, but with the method Sean teaches, you can get consistent results every time.

A few months after the Menorca workshop, Sean released another video demo through Noh Wave Academy. This served as a kind of refresher course, and reiterated the consistency of his approach. The method is the same as always, but with a new model, there’s always something new to learn!

Thank you, Sean, for helping to simplify the complex process of painting a portrait. Oh, and for having a beard so I didn’t have to paint your jawline!

Here’s my portrait of Sean Cheetham. Oils on 9×12″ panel:

Sean Cheetham by Dan Johnson – 2020

Learn from Sean

Sean teaches various workshops in the US, but his website isn’t currently up to date, so check his Instagram page for upcoming workshops.

This year he’s also teaching in Europe, at The Rome Workshops, and rumour has it he will teach a 10 day workshop at Menorca Pulsar (you can join the waiting list for that here.)

And if you can’t attend in person, or can’t wait, I’d recommend checking out Sean’s online demos:





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