Composing a Narrative Self-portrait Painting (Pt. 1) | Demonstration by Melisa Calabria | The Cave of Apelles

Melisa Calabria is an Argentinian painter who focuses on self-portraits and storytelling.
Having studied with Ricardo Celma and Odd Nerdrum, she underlines the importance of causality in her narratives, imbued with a dreamlike atmosphere of yearning and melancholy.
During her second stay at the Nerdrum Studio, she demonstrates the importance of composition and explains her method as she starts a new painting.

In this demonstration you will learn about:

  •  Developing an idea from a composition sketch
  • Applying thinly when transferring the sketch
  • Adding color to the the face (the most important element)
  • Being aware of differences in values
  • Painting on the whole surface “at the same time”
  • Increasing contrast and adding a darker background gradually
  • The possibility of big changes
  • Adjusting transitions to get a soft totality
  • Toning down one thing to emphasize another
  • The appropriate movement to the psychological state of the figure


Filmed and edited by Bork S. Nerdrum
Featuring Melisa Calabria, Jan-Ove Tuv & Camilla Rose Gjertsen

▶️ Full video:
🎵 Full audio:

Fergus Ryan
Shaun Roberts
Viorel Trandafir
Matthias Proy
Dean Anthony
Børge Moe
Eivind Josten
Alastair Blain
Anders Berge Christensen
Eivind Josten
Erik Lasky
Fernando Ramirez
Herman Borge
Iver Ukkestad
Jack Entz Warner
Jared Fountain
Marion Bu-Pedersen
Misty DeLaine
Richard Barrett
Maurice Robbins
Michael Irish
Stacey Evangelista
Tonelise Rugaas
Trym Jordahl
Yngve Hellan

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  • Apelles was asked why he touched and retouched his pictures with so much care, to which he replied:
    "I paint for eternity"