3 day Traditional Portraiture Workshop with Mike Skidmore

3 day Traditional Portraiture Workshop with Mike Skidmore


Tutor: Mike Skidmore

Dates Available:

  • 29 - 31 July 2019

3 day course: 10am - 4pm

There is a common myth that classical oil painting requires a lot of experience and immense skill to master. This is simply not true, especially when the techniques used are fully explained. Any artist, from beginners to more advanced, can learn how to approach this style of painting without fear.

Mike will demonstrate each stage of the process, give you plenty of one-to-one tuition and guide you through this 3 day course in an informal and positive way.

Over the 3 days you will work on two different techniques in a stage by stage process.

The wipe-off technique

This method is ideal for painting pictures with very dark shadows and strong highlights in order to create depth and mood. This is said to be the way Rembrandt worked.

The first stage is a very light acrylic line drawing onto the canvas after which the whole canvas is painted over, using burnt or raw umber, ensuring you can just see the drawing underneath. After this, you will use a cloth and cotton buds to wipe out the lighter areas, gradually taking more paint off to uncover the lightest areas.

Once this stage is dry you begin to add the flesh and features of the face, building them up from dark to light. This is a very rewarding technique as it creates instant drama and is great fun to do.

The grisaille method - using a grey tone under-painting

You will start by doing a pencil drawing directly onto the canvas, which is ‘fixed’ with a transparent coat of grey acrylic. Following on from this, you will paint a tonal picture in white and grey acrylic (this ensures the under-painting dries quickly). Finally, you will paint in oils, covering every aspect of classical painting.

What you will learn:

•   A new way to use a grid system for the drawing

•   How to approach the structure and planes of a face

•   How to address the tonal values of a picture

•   How to build a painting up from thin shadows to impasto highlights

•   Working in layers - the why’s and wherefore’s

•   Mixing flesh colours for both white and black skin

•   How to approach painting each specific feature of a face

•   Glazing and mediums - how to use them, when to use them and their advantages

•   Different materials, canvasses, brushes etc.

The workshop will be interspersed with various talks, such as how our brains process visual information and how we use the key features of a face in order to recognise someone.

Mike will talk about how to evaluate and learn from your work in a positive way, in order to build confidence and enthusiasm going forward. You will also cover painting from life, taking and using photographs and of course we’ll explore the various tricks and techniques of the old masters. Students can expect to produce 2 portraits during the 3 days. At the end of the course they will have worked through the entire process from drawing and under-painting to the final oils. 

What to bring:

A full list of materials will be sent out several weeks prior to the course. You will need to bring;

  • A 2b pencil and a ruler

  • Oil or Acrylic brushes of the following types and sizes; A sable or rigger brush in either size 3, 4, 5; Square end or filbert brushes in size 2, 4, 6; Blending brush (sometimes called a fan brush)

Materials fee:

There will be additional fees for materials, payable in cash to the tutor at the start of the course to cover the following;

  • Canvas boards - £8 per board

  • Medium - £5 per jar (this will be enough to use during the course and for at least 4 more paintings when you get home).

  • Paint - £5

All other tools, equipment and studio essentials will be provided.

“I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the wonderful weekend and 
your company. Mike did wonders for my confidence and reassured me that I can do this. He’s very intuitive and talented.”

“Thank you for an amazing couple of days. I never thought that I could learn so much in such a short time. Mike, your method of teaching is great and your pep talk struck home! I would really love to do another course!”  

“I guess you have a million of these notes afterwards saying your courses have been life changing but you have a gift for making it feel possible so here goes....watch this space!

Book Course

Please read the full terms and conditions before making your booking.