Continuous Learning

As a “self-taught” artist, the most effective way to learn is by doing – practice, practice and more practice.

But it’s also important to learn from others with more experience whenever you get the chance.

So this month, I’m excited to be taking a 1 month online Alla Prima Portrait Workshop with Jonathan Hardesty.

It’s essentially a 4-day workshop spread out over a whole month so we have time to do the exercises in our spare time. Each week, we get a new video lesson in which we watch Jon paint one stage of a portrait in real time, and listen to him explain his process.

Then we do the same thing, painting the same portrait, and following his technique as closely as possible. At the start of the following week, we get a personalised video critique of the work we have done, so that we can make corrections before moving on to the next stage.

Week 1 was the block-in stage, which involves laying a ground, and then sketching the main large shapes, focusing on proportion, and the shapes of the light and shadows, ignoring all detail.

Here’s my painting after stage 1, with my initial attempt on the left, and then my corrected version, after watching the critique, on the right.

Step 1 - Block in
Step 1 – Block in

I wasn’t too far off the mark to begin with, just a few adjustments needed in the shape of the face, and I had lost track of the proportions in the fabric, so I had to wipe that off and try again, measuring more carefully.

It’s so useful to have someone with experience critique your work at each stage, as they will always spot things that you might have missed.

If you get the chance to take a workshop like this, I’d highly recommend it.

Next stage is laying in the main colours and values. I’ll post my progress on that soon!






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