Through the Eyes of a Master Teaching Artist

By Ronald J. Llanos, Ryman Arts Master Teaching Artist 

Ryman Arts Master Teaching Artists deliver high quality arts instruction to each of our students – leading thoughtful class critiques, doing demonstrations of specialized techniquesworking with students one on one to give them the most impactful experience. As we celebrate California Arts Education Month in March, we want to highlight a behind-the-scenes perspective of a Ryman Arts class session through the lens of Master Teaching Artist Ronald J. Llanos, who has been teaching at Ryman Arts since 2014.

Sunday, February 24, Otis College of Art and Design –

Being a teacher for the Advanced Painting course (the third and final course that students are slated to take at Ryman Arts), I require that students have some level of proficiency in the ability to draw the human form because it is the most essential and difficult subject matter for students to tackle.

Student Kaija L. (Ryman ’19) begins fleshing out the form of her figure while establishing background tones

In class today, students are painting the human body within a given time period and with a limited, prescribed palette. These particular guidelines help me determine whether or not they are reaching their maximum potential. An order of operations is presented to the students on how they should go about painting the human figure, but students are allowed to deviate from that order should they naturally feel inclined to go in their own direction, with the condition that we all eventually end up in "Rome."

Master Teaching Artist Ronald examines the progress of student Sophia B. (Ryman ’19), complimenting her bold yet controlled use of color

Good tonal control is the most important quality that I'm looking for at this point in the semester. Speaking to student Sophia B. (Ryman ’19) about her painting, I compliment her on how bold and fearless her use of color is on that painting while still retaining good control of the value structure of the model that I expect the students to achieve.

Master Teaching Artist Ronald demonstrates to students how to organize the different hues of paint on their palettes

Halfway through the lesson, I speak to students as a group while the students are immersed in their paintings, to provide them with small bits of advice, tips, and suggestions. Other times, I request the group's attention so that I may give them very important advice on how to navigate through the many roadways of creating a painting. Here, I'm showing them how to best organize their paints on the palette, to help them have good control of color mixing and tone matching. At this point of the semester, my hope is that we all end up in "Rome,” eventually, no matter which road they may take.


Ronald J. Llanos teaches figure drawing and painting to both adults and children at his alma mater, ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California. He has also run art workshops and taught classes in high schools including Polytechnic School, Flintridge Preparatory School, McKinley School, and Pasadena High School. In addition to teaching, Ronald is a practicing artist who regularly creates and exhibits. Ronald has exhibited in galleries throughout southern California, Oregon, and Washington. His works are in the collection of many art collectors. He has also done various commissioned portraits for private individuals. Recently, Ronald was selected and commissioned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to design 24 mosaic panels for the Western Station of the new Exposition Lightrail line.