Art & Design Magazine

Portrait Workshop Online

By Ingrid Christensen

Portrait workshop online

Self Portrait in Painting Shirt
18 x 14"

I recently finished teaching "The Expressive Portrait from Life" online at The Winslow Art Center and I can honestly say that it blew my mind.  My students' works were amazing.   They made big leaps in confidence and skill from the first class to the last, and - more importantly - they were exhilarated by the process, posting exuberant comments about what they'd learned and enjoyed along with their homework each week.

How we managed this transformative experience via Zoom is that we all worked from life.  Each painter set up a mirror near a window or beside a lamp and painted his or her own face as I did the same in my studio.  I can talk while I paint so my narration was pretty much constant.  I discussed strategies for mixing colours and temperatures, described how I tackle each feature, and showed how to correct the inevitable errors in value and drawing that happen in life work.  The participants alternated between watching my demo and looking at their own faces and canvases.  

Painters who asked to please be allowed to work from a photo at the start of the course began posting stunningly expressive self portraits by week 3.  This required an open mind and heart from a few people who said they didn't like studying their aging faces, but they all rose to the challenge.  Most wonderful were the many comments that they posted, saying that they'd come to appreciate their faces after the time spent looking in the mirror with the aim of finding color and proportion, not flaws.  

On the final day, we painted a model from life via Zoom.  Miss Alexia Day tuned in from her home and sat for us, breathing, suppressing smiles at my corny jokes, blinking, taking breaks - all the things that happen in a life painting class.  Students could view Alexia's face or my demo at their discretion and we all got busy painting together.  I actually felt that group energy that happens in a real life setting when a bunch of people are engrossed in the same pursuit.  

The resulting portraits were filled with life and the kind of honesty that comes from thoughtful looking.  It was a very good day.

I'm offering "The Expressive Portrait from Life" again online at The Winslow Art Center on Saturdays, June 5 to 26.   Each class is 3 hours long and each lesson is taped and available for you to watch within 24 hours of the lesson.  You'll have access to the videos for 30 days after the final class.  

I hope you'll join me online for this adventure in portraiture.

Happy painting!

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