Portrait painting workshop……

Tomorrow I am giving a Portrait painting workshop.    My goals are to help the group to be playful, remove the fear that often arises when the words ‘portrait painting’ come up and to focus on capturing the essence of their subject.

I will begin the day with a watercolour demonstration using one of the participants as my model…and then encourage the group to make quick studies of one another.   As this will be part of the warming up process, newspaper or inexpensive wallpaper lining can be used….

Simplifying the subject as demonstrated in this quick study, helps the artist to begin to see what’s in front of them.      I often say that we can live with someone for thirty years but it’s not until you draw or paint a subject that you actually see them.

felt tip pen and a watercolour wash.20-11-15-1-750I highly recommend carrying a sketch book….This offers perfect opportunities to observe people and make quick studies.

During a lecture at an Adlarian Summer School, I made this quick sketch of Vincent.   I used a pen during the lecture and then applied wash afterwards.

pen and wash. 20-11-15-1-747In this study of an elderly lady in a nursing home in Wales – I wanted to capture the stern quality of her expression.

watercolour/gouache/felt tip pen study   20-11-15-1-754Silvern was one of the actors I painted last year when in Nantes France.      I have to say that working with the group as they rehearsed for a production was one of the year’s highlights.    As actors they were naturally very expressive and wonderful to capture.

Note in this watercolour all the whites are dry white paper.

When giving a portrait workshop, I often see people struggling with one aspect of a face, i.e. the nose.    More and more paint is added, causing confusion to the painter and the portrait –   Often all that is needed is a shadow next to the nose – and voila.

watercolour. 20-11-15 - 1 (371)This young woman was enjoying some spring sunshine….note all white areas are dry white paper.    By adding the dark background, the profile is revealed.    I have used the same tone in the background as in the shadow areas of the face….Remember everything is interconnected.

watercolour19853_341904480395_7803458_nIn this alla prima  (painted in one session) oil sketch of my son when he was 26 years old (he’s now 50), note that the strong shadow on his neck reveals his chin…..The top lip is in shadow revealing the bottom lip….The dark in his hair frames and reveals the face. til-august-10-187I painted this oil sketch of Megan about 32 years ago when I was working on  a large portrait of her Mother in my West Chester, Pennsylvania studio.    After a sitting, Megan asked if I would paint her, and so I used the paint left on my palette capturing her in about twenty minutes.

rapid alla prima oil on canvas sketch P1150316A rapid sketch of Eli.    I love drawing/painting children.   The proportions are completely different.      It’s a case of ‘less is more’.

from one of my travelling sketch books.  – pen20-11-15-1-752I painted this spontaneous watercolour portrait of Margarida as a demonstration in Portugal last year.    At the time, Margarida was pregnant (I get to meet the new baby in April. 🙂       I used an elephant sized  sheet of paper.      I didn’t worry about the outcome but simply enjoyed the moment…which is something I highly recommend that others do.

Large, spontaneous watercolour of Margarida. 20-11-15 - 1 (93)And then there is the self portrait.

When models are scarce we always have ourselves.  I have painted several self portraits over the years, and find them to be illuminating – always learning something new about  myself.        This alla prima oil sketch was painted on January 3rd 2000 when I was living in the Magical Town of Crickadoon.    I loved that hat, and somewhere along the way have lost it…..ah well, I still have it in the painting.

alla prima oil on canvas. – self portrait. P1140993Happy painting.

A Bientôt

89 thoughts on “Portrait painting workshop……

  1. lurda55

    Que bonitos todos!!!!. Me encantan tus explicaciones y el gusto de tomar un boceto y luego esa culminación, en algunos, con la acuarela, que dominas completamente. Saludos y feliz día

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning and thank you so much for this lovely comment. I have painted and sketched, possibly thousands of people over the years from many different parts of the world….it has taught me a great deal about humanity – which is that most of us want the same things in life and behind the facade that we all exhibit to the world, are all the same emotions…..Watercolour is a wonderful medium to capture people.
      I hope you enjoy a beautiful weekend….janet. :)x

  2. First Night Design

    You explain the processes so well that I instantly think, ‘Oh, yes, I can do that!’ Then. of course, my fingers let me down. I’m not surprised you mourn the loss of that hat – right up my strasse too! 🙂 xx

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning dear Sarah….Thank you so much…I try to simplify the process with a view to removing fear…..and oh yes, how I loved that hat. If I ever seen another remotely like it, I will snap up immediately….Wishing you a beautiful weekend….Janet. 🙂 xx

  3. Writing to Freedom

    I love your paintings Janet! and would enjoy being coached by you. Years ago I took one painting class with a woman who also helped us get past the fear of painting/ expressing/ getting it right and just allow ourselves to express through the process. Thanks.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning, and thank you so much for this comment. I have found that the fear element, which is very normal, prevents people from trying, playing, experimenting….and it is through these elements that we learn and grow. The workshop went very well yesterday and the participants not only did some excellent work, but had fun doing it.
      Hope you enjoy a lovely weekend and if you are every on this side of the Pond, maybe you can join me at a workshop….:) Janet.

  4. Teagan Geneviene

    Janet, I soooo enjoy when you explain the what and why of how you paint — and show delightful examples. Simplifying things always seems to be difficult. And it’s interesting that you should mention that today, when I’m coping with voluminous written documents from managers who were asked to send a brief, billeted list of quarterly key accomplishments. (Not the history of each day-to-day task they had done…) Sigh… Thank you for this lovely lunch break. 😀 Mega hugs.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning dear Teagan…I think it must be a natural human condition to complicate things – when in fact the more succinct we are, whether in painting, writing, etc. the better the end product. I can understand your frustration. It’s all about letting go of pre-conceived ideas….and allowing new ways of being to evolve. Hope you enjoy a lovely and frustration free weekend…..surrounded by magical hummingbirds, of course. Janet. 🙂 xxx

  5. Timi Townsend

    Gorgeous portraits here, Janet! How did the workshop go? I’m sure the participants gained a lot from your encouragement of them to free up! I’ve been thinking a bit again about that portrait of my niece that was due at Christmas (I substituted an old pen and ink sketch of a big cat and an IOU for the promised portrait). Maybe it is time to quit thinking and start doing. Perhaps I’ve thought myself into a corner…. 😛

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning, Timi – It was a lovely workshop….a group I particularly enjoy working with. People did relax and consequently do some lovely work…and had fun at the same time. I would suggest that you see your niece’s portrait in a different manner. Rather than trying to get an exact likeness of her facade…..allow yourself to do several quick/rapid sketches working in an intuitive manner. Think of your niece as you know her…Make this a playful exercise….six to ten pieces….very fast….then live with the sketches for a few hours and have another go.
      Also something I talked about quite a bit yesterday was seeing the face as a map or jigsaw puzzle made up of a myriad of shapes. This is another way of removing the fear of not getting an exact likeness. In my view the best portraits are those that capture the essence….that part of the subject which is beyond the obvious.
      I hope you have a lovely and creative weekend…..and give Ophelia a big cuddle from me…..Janet. 🙂 x

      1. Timi Townsend

        Thank you, Janet, for the excellent advice! I think I will give your approach a try, maybe even today since it is my last free day in awhile. I’m glad that your workshop was enjoyable for you as well as your students. They are very lucky indeed to have you leading them! ❤

  6. ĽAdelaide

    I feel like i have just spent time immersed in your wonderful world. your work is amazing and the feeling of joy and ‘no fear’ is a good one to teach. everyone is an artist but so few believe it. xx

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning and thank you for such an insightful comment….You are absolutely right…everyone is an artist, but very few believe it. I like that and may use it in future workshops…:) Given that I believe the creative process in all its many forms is the key to emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing….imagine the overall benefits if people could believe that they are intrinsically artists and then enjoy the process rather than fear it.
      Hope you have a lovely and very creative weekend. Janet. xx

  7. davidjrogersftw

    Janet, you do everything so expertly–writing, painting, advising, instructing, and encouraging. Thank you.

  8. Jet Eliot

    I learned so much from this lovely post, Janet. I find the shadow work fascinating, and also revealing of the depth of your talents. I also loved the act of first reading your words about the person and portrait, and then seeing the art you had created. The pen, paint, white dry spots, movement, quickness, depth — all so beautifully and succinctly demonstrated here. I have no doubt your workshop was a complete success. Thanks so much, Janet.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you very much, Jet. Yes the portrait workshop went very well….I was working with a group that I particularly enjoy. Most importantly it appeared that fear was removed, replaced with enjoyment…janet. 🙂

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  10. David

    I like your style. My favorite is the sketch. I love the simple line art of sketching. Keep it up!

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  12. Lasarol

    Lovelyyyy!!!! -whispers- I reckon the self portrait was done with hours of observations. It seems so smooth… is that the effect of oil painting. The colours blend so well together 😉 I wish I can learn to imagine and bring out art portraits like you do someday!!

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      What a lovely comment….thank you very much. Yes, all portraits comes from hours of observation. If you practise a lot, you can also do this…I promise…janet 🙂

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      1. janetweightreed10 Post author

        I feel that I am successful in as much as I get to do the thing I love the most every day….What more could anyone wish for 🙂 Happy First day of Autumn to you. Janet

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