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TCU Magazine "Academe"

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Portraiture class draws local teachers.

The first thing portrait artist Vilas Tonape '96 (MFA) teaches his students is that there's no such thing as drawing noses, ears or lips. Skin colors don't exist either.

"You never actually draw a face," Tonape said.

Confused? Tonape's perspective on human faces is actually quite simple. He doesn't teach artists to draw facial features such as noses or eyes because he teaches them, instead, to draw the shapes out of which noses and eyes are formed. And people don't have different skin colors because, in an artist's palette, everyone's skin, no matter their race, is a varying tone of the color orange.

He imparted these and other lessons to Fort Worth school district art teachers in June as part of weeklong portraiture class presented by the TCU Department of Art and Art History. Tonape is the chairman of the art department at Claflin University in Orangeburg, S.C.

During the workshop, Tonape had the chance to paint a portrait of TCU Chancellor Victor Boschini. The teachers also painted live subjects. Many of the teachers used supplies and techniques they had never worked with before.

"This is the best workshop I've ever had," said Linsey Sappington, an art teacher at S.S. Dillow Elementary School. "Not very often can you take a class that helps you professionally and personally at the same time."

Comment about this story at tcumagazine@tcu.edu