Portrait Painting


Few things are as captivating as a beautiful portrait. Portrait painting is however, one of the most difficult tasks an artist can be faced with. It is very easy to lose track of the initial vision that was there in the beginning of the painting, while just trying to make things look right.

During this workshop the participants will be taught how to break down the process, drawing color and value into simple steps so that the initial idea and vision can remain intact throughout the process.



The day starts at 10:00 and ends at 17:00.


We start the first day with a short introduction to portrait painting and what to think about for the coming week. After this we will start off by doing small pencil sketches of the model while thinking about how to compose the picture within the picture plane. Every person sees the model differently and this is your time to notice and memorize what it is that strikes you.


This is really the most important part of the process and we take our time here to make sure we know what we want to do before going into the actual painting.


After this we begin painting with an open grisaille where focus is on drawing. We will talk about how to analyze nature and transfer what you see onto the canvas.



This day will be dedicated to getting the drawing right. We continue working with the open grisaille and look into what parts of the face that are extra important to study.



We start to introduce more colors into the painting and start working with a full value range. Focus is on staying true to that initial vision and not getting lost while trying to juggle color, value and drawing.



We continue on like the previous day, bringing it all together.



This last day we try to make sure we have stayed true to the initial vision. We also step back and look at our paintings as pictures and try to judge how to make them better. At the end of the day we have a little discussion where we look at the paintings and talk about how it went.




Here are the required paints for the workshop (not having these might make it harder for you).

  • Titanium white

  • Yellow ochre

  • Permanent red, cadmium red or other similar red

  • Raw umber

  • Transparent oxide red

  • Ivory black


Recommended brands of paint to consider:

Michael Harding




Rublev (only available in the US)



Bristle brushes are the most versatile brushes, I recommend a few round ones and filberts of varying size. You also want some softer brushes, sables, mongoose or synthetic, preferably filberts or flats. Finally, you want some really small round brushes for details. Sable is the best for these.

Recommended brands to consider:

Rosemary & Co (online shop with lots of good brushes)

Daler-Rowney – Bristle Whites

Da Vinci – Maestro 2


Painting support

Panel or canvas of about 45x60 cm ready to paint on. Choose a canvas that is not too rough (for example: Claessen nr 66 or nr 13DP).

Other supplies

Sketchbook and pencil


Medium of choice (half linseed oil half mineral spirits make for an easy good medium)


Cleaning your brushes

The school will provide brush-cleaning materials, but for your information, we have some suggestions:


Brush washer, Daler Rowney



In the brush washer bucket you can use ordinary white spirit (lacknafta) or turpentine.  If you are sensitive to solvent smells, you can try  http://www.zest-it.com/zest-it_solvent.htm.

After cleaning your brushes you need to either let them rest in linseed oil or wash them with soap. We recommend Ottosson Linoljesåpa.



Also have some plastic gloves. If you will use toxic paint is good to have protection when cleaning.

By Karl Wennergren
By Karl Wennergren
By Karl Wennergren
By Karl Wennergren