Portrait Workshop (now closed for 2017)


A two day workshop giving an overview of the process of painting (or drawing) a portrait. We’ll look at a simple way to start, progress and finish a portrait. Beginners and advanced welcome. Will include:

Approaches to portraiture. (Follow your envy - paint how you want to paint.)

Choosing and creating a ground to paint on. (White is seldom the best option. Nor the most delicious.)

Visual concept and composition. (If there’s no strong visual concept, there’s no strong painting.)

Beginning a painting. (Often the most fun, most beautiful, and most overlooked bit.)

Seeing the big shapes. (Not getting stuck in the details.)

Understanding the planes of the head and face. (Achieving a sense of form, depth and solidity.)

Drawing the head and face. (Including seeing what’s there and not what you think is there.)

Achieving a likeness. (Not just a face, but this face.)

Understanding tone. (Usually far more difficult and important than colour.)

Understanding colour. (Including warmth and coolness in lights and shadows.)

Understanding and controlling edges. (One of the main keys to believability in a painting. Thanks Leonardo.)

How to mix colour. (It’s easier that you think.)

We'll work from the model, but if you want to paint from a photograph bring it in and that will work fine too. (Or even a favourite painting you’d like to copy.)

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Recommended Materials List


If you want to concentrate on portrait drawing, or do some preparatory sketches, bring in your preferred materials but probably include:

Drawing Pad/Paper

Thin/Medium Vine Charcoal (not compressed charcoal - bring that as well if you wish)

Pencils – preferably 2B or softer

Kneadable eraser


I recommend oils mainly because their slower drying time is such an advantage for so many reasons. (And because oil paint is the most gorgeous substance on our planet.)

Good oil paint contains only pigments (the same as used in acrylics) and natural oil – usually linseed.)

If you have an aversion to the smell it is probably not to oil paint itself but to the solvents and mediums often used with oil paint. It is possible to minimise or totally eliminate these – you can thin your paints with linseed oil only and clean up can be with soap and water only.

However if you wish to paint in acrylic, no probs. Bring slow-drying acrylics if possible, and whatever retarder mediums and spray bottles etc you can to slow drying times as much as possible.

Bring whatever colours you have or like, but I recommend you include these (you can do almost anything with them):

Titanium or TitaniumZinc white (the latter is just a bit more buttery and nicer to mix with)

Cadmium Yellow Light

Yellow Ochre

Burnt Sienna

Alizarin Crimson

Cobalt Blue (people often prefer Cerulean Blue and that’s fine, but I like Cobalt much more. Pthalo is another cooler blue and it’s great at times but very strong and I prefer Cobalt for flesh.)


Raw Umber

Burnt Umber

Ivory Black

Raw Umber or Burnt Sienna - acrylic (for preparing a ground to paint on) 

Brushes and Canvas:

I recommend one or two each of these:

Number 10, 6, 4, 1 hog’s hair filbert brushes

Primed stretched canvas or canvas board or board, 40 cm or so, rectangular or square, whatever takes your fancy. You can also bring unstretched primed canvas and a board to clip it to if you like. You can even paint on primed paper or cardboard - whatever takes you fancy.   

Easels supplied, but bring your own if you prefer.

The workshop will be run in my working studio and there will plenty of time to ask any general questions you may have about drawing and painting. (I'm not as grumpy as I look in this portrait.)

Times: 10:00 am to 5 pm both days - with an hour for lunch and plenty of breaks.

Maximum of 10 people.

Cost: $450. ($225 deposit to book your place.) 

For any further info or to book your place please email rhodes.dale@gmail.com or call Dale on 0425 254 851.

If you require accomodation in Mullumbimby you might like to check out our rooms on Air B&B Mullumbimby under the heading Country Meets Cafes.

Link: https://www.airbnb.com.au/rooms/6394841?guests=1&location=mullumbimby