Portrait Painting

Enrolling NOW
10 Tuesdays: July 13 – Sept 21 (One week off, Date TBD)
LIVE on Zoom: 10am- 1pm Pacific Time (USA)
PLUS Additional Weekly Critique Videos from Instructor
ALL LEVELS WELCOME, from Beginner to Advanced Professional

Register Now

In my online portrait painting course, I focus on two elements in creating beautiful and dramatic portraits: A sculptural and painterly approach to brushstroke as well as the opposing forces of Light and Shadow. Topics covered will include value, design, size and placement, color, edges, atmosphere, brushstroke, head structure and features, likeness, anatomy, perspective, facial expression, and more.

***This class is best taken concurrently or alternately with my Head Construction drawing class.***

Classes will be taught online via Zoom each Tuesday, and will last 3 hours. Half-way through each class there will be a 10-minute break. Over the course we will do 4 portraits, using each model for 2 consecutive weeks. Students will receive photo reference for each portrait ahead of time. During each class I will demonstrate my painting process live on-screen. Students are encouraged to paint alongside me, using the photo reference which would have been emailed. You may, however, just watch the demonstration and work on the painting on your own time. I will be explaining my process as I work and taking questions throughout the class.

ALL SESSIONS ARE RECORDED, and recordings are available to students throughout the course. So, if you have to miss a live session (or multiples) you will still be able to watch all materials on your own time.

There will not be any separate assignments for homework, however I will be asking students to email me a photo of the current painting each week. Remember that each painting will be worked for two consecutive sessions. After the first model session, I will want to see the students’ progress. I will make a critique video using these images to give the students advice on how to continue in the following session. After the second week with the model, I will once again ask to see student paintings, and I will make a “final critique” video. These videos will be made available to the students and will be downloadable so that students can keep them indefinitely.


Ground: Four canvases or panels. Size is best between 12×16 and 16×20. The instructor usually demonstrates on 14×18. Here are some recommendations.

Panels: Innerglow panels (can be painted on both sides!). I use these panels almost exclusively due to quality and convenience.

Canvas/Linen: It is best to use an OIL-PRIMED canvas rather than gesso-primed, which can be over-absorbent. A recommended brand would be Claessens DP (Double-primed) varieties. This canvas is available in rolls or pre-mounted to panels. Another option is to buy any cheaper store-bought canvas and apply (using a palette knife) a VERY thin coat of white paint mixed with a drying medium. Allowed to dry, this makes for a great primed surface.

*** Whether using Panel or Canvas, your ground should be TONED and dried before the day you begin a painting. To tone, simply use a fairly neutral color (an umber perhaps) and thin it with a drying medium. Brush or rub this onto the ground as a wash to get a medium value. DO NOT TONE WITH AN INTENSE COLOR, think something gray-ish. Do this at least a day or two ahead of time to allow time to dry. ***

I prefer natural bristle brushes. My favorites are Robert Simmons Signet. I strictly use filberts, mainly a size #5 to do almost everything. You can use other shapes (flats, brights, etc) and other sizes as well. I strongly recommend not using small size brushes very often. It goes against the sculptural broad language of painting that I teach. Available from major online retailers such as Dick Blick and Jerrys Artarama.

I strongly recommend Old Holland oil paints for all colors. The only color not available from Old Holland is Naples Yellow Light (I do not like other shades of Naples Yellow, such as Deep or Extra, etc.) For that color, I recommend Michael Harding or Vasari. For convenience, you can also mix your own Naples Yellow Light using white and cadmium yellow light. These should all be available from major online retailers such as Dick Blick and Jerrys Artarama.

Colors – 14 total
Naples Yellow Light or Lead Tin Yellow
Yellow Ocher Deep
Venetian Red or Red Ocher or Terra Rosa
Cadmium Yellow Deep
Cadmium Yellow Light
Cadmium Red Light or Vermillion
Pthalo Blue (named Schevenings Blue by Old Holland)
Ultramarine Blue
Burnt Umber
Raw Umber or Green Umber
Ivory Black
Alizarin Crimson
Transparent Red Oxide
Cremnitz White or Flake White.

Medium is necessary to alter the physical behavior, tactile quality, and drying time of the paint. I personally use two mediums together in each painting. Those are Italian Wax Medium and Black Oil, both available from Old Masters Maroger. I also recommend their Flemish Maroger medium, which can be used alone if you only want to use one medium. All mediums available from www.oldmastersmaroger.com

Paper Towels – I recommend the blue Scott shop towels, or Bounty. Yes, I know it’s silly but I hate linty or thin cheap towels.

Palette – the best is glass with a neutral-ish background underneath (like a paper bag, piece of wood, or any other fairly neutral color/value paper or spray paint). For your own benefit, PLEASE DO NOT PAINT ON A WHITE PALETTE. You will not be able to judge your colors or values.

Razor Blade Scraper for glass palette

Brush Cleaner – I highly recommend Murphy Oil Soap, available from many supermarkets, Target, Wal-mart, etc. Buy the concentrated kind in a clear bottle, not the watered-down kind in the white bottle.

*An introductory video explaining the usage of Zoom will be sent to students before first session.

Enrolling NOW
10 Tuesdays: July 13 – Sept 21 (One week off, Date TBD)
LIVE on Zoom: 10am- 1pm Pacific Time (USA)
PLUS Additional Weekly Critique Videos from Instructor

ALL LEVELS WELCOME, from Beginner to Advanced Professional

Register Now