Portraits Alla Prima Workshops

Instructor | Paul Conner Donahue
3 Wednesdays | 12-3pm
Oct 24, 31 and Nov 7, 2018

Instructor | Paul Conner Donahue
3 Sundays | 1-4pm
Dec 2, 9, and 16, 2018

Tuition | $160
Open to teens and adults

The primary goal of this workshop will be to strengthen your portraiture techniques and the speed at which at you paint. The key to both is careful brush placement and consideration of the values and hues you are laying down. We will start by choosing adequate photo reference to work from, then prepare the canvas by taping down the borders and toning the canvas, then move into a quick under-painting where we will plan out the composition, and finally we will block in the painting and bring it to completion. Some skills that will be taught in this workshop:

  • Color Temperature: Color temperature goes a long way in bringing a painting to life. Cooler tones can be used to make an object recede while warmer tones bring objects forward more.We will discuss how color temperature affects how you perceive depth in a painting:
  • Color Planning: Particularly when you are painting portraits there are certain shortcuts you can use to render the flesh. To see a good example of this in action look at some portraits by John Singer Sargent. The foreheads tend to be the lightest areas of the face and the most yellowish in tone because they’re closer to the light and the bone of the skull is much closer to the skin. The cheeks under the cheekbone tend to be more red because that area of the face is more ‘meaty’ and the blood vessels under the cheeks warm up the flesh tones. The areas around the chin and particularly under the lips tend to be more greyish or bluish because the skin tones cool down as they wrap around the jaw, but also because the jaw is further from the light source so the skin tones will gradually become more cool as they recede from the light.
  • Block In: A quick and effective block in goes a long way towards a successful painting. Essentially what that means is you want to cover your entire canvas in paint before you focus in on the details. During the block in process your can adjust colors or the composition without losing much time. If you spend a few hours on a painting then decide the colors just aren’t working together, you’ve wasted those hours. Simplifying the block in will speed up the working process and help you adjust course as necessary.
  • Light Gradients: As I mentioned in the color planning bullet, as thing recede or approach the light source they will get darker or lighter respectively. Being more mindful of the light source and placing darker and lighter tones as necessary will strengthen the appearance of depth and light in your work.