Capturing a likeness is among the most elusive yet emotionally satisfying of artistic endeavors and a good drawing is undoubtedly the most critical component in achieving a good result.  In this 4 day workshop Joshua will walk students through the steps necessary to create a luminous, in-direct portrait painting from life, beginning with a drawing in graphite and white chalk.

From Joshua:

My demonstration and critiques will centre around the elements of form and how to understand and achieve the illusion of three-dimensions.  By better understanding the importance of form the student will gain new insight into value, structure, expression and indeed, color.

Each morning session will begin with a thorough portrait demonstration from the model including a dialogue of all key concepts, while the afternoon will focus on personal critiques.  We will progress each day, working on the same pose, through a clear method which you will be able to easily apply to your own work.  The first day will begin with the block-in, or line drawing, which will include a discussion of both two and three dimensional conception and problem-solving strategies.  With a solid start, we will begin an in-depth investigation of the portrait's forms and large value relationship, as well as the practical and conceptual techniques of modeling which can often be counter-intuitive.  The drawing will be transferred to canvas.

On the second day we will begin the first of three layers of paint, one each day.  Joshua will be teaching the the indirect approach to oil painting which is distinct from the alla-prima, or wet-in-wet, method in that it is done in layers and can therefore achieve wonderful and subtle effects by the use of semi-transparent veils of paint.  The first layer consists of a thin neutralized underpainting to establish large value relationships. The second is a slightly thicker layer where the form is built up and more color context is added. And finally, a refining pass with a discussion of glazing and scumbling will be applied last.

Day 1: Block-in drawing – lighting, 2 dimensional vs 3 dimensional concepts.  Render drawing in graphite focusing on form and structure. Transfer to canvas.

Day 2: Underpainting – discuss various methods, intro to color space – hue/value/chroma

Day 3: Building up form – lighter lights, darker darks, with more color context. Anticipate final layer.

Day 4: Finishing - Polishing and refining by glazing and scumbling; consider edges.

Materials Required

Note: Students will only need drawing materials for the first day of class. These materials are only recommendations based on what I use - whatever materials you already have and are most familiar with will most likely be suitable for our purposes.  Please ask if there are questions prior to purchasing.

Drawing Materials

  • Drawing paper (currently I use a toned Stonehenge paper - Fawn/Cream/Natural/Grey color)
  • Several drawing pencils in range of  softness 4H, 2H, H, B (I use Tombow brand)
  • White Chalk (I use General’s Primo Euro White charcoal)
  • Kneadable eraser
  • MONO Zero Eraser, Silver Round
  • Large knitting needle, paint brush or equivalent instrument for comparative measuring
  • Drawing board with clips and artist tape
  • Small handheld Mirror (optional)

Transferring Materials

  • Artist tape
  • Tracing paper
  • Oleoresgel or some other alkyd drying medium
  • Raw Umber oil paint
  • Paper Towels


Painting Materials


  • Stretched, lead oil primed, smooth linen size 10x12 to 14x18 - toned light grey (Vandyck Brown and white with Gamsol)

Oil Paint

I generally prefer Michael Harding or Rublev Paints - I have listed these in order, clockwise as seen on my palette (again, it is not necessary to have these exact pigments):

  • Ivory Black (Williamsburg)
  • Van Dyke Brown (Gamblin)
  • Cobalt Violet (Michael Harding)
  • Cobalt/Ultramarine Blue Michael Harding)
  • Viridian (Michael Harding)
  • Lead white (Rublev- lead white #2) (*Titanium white is ok, but will dry more slowly, I do know it is harder to get within Europe however.)
  • Lead-tin yellow (Rublev)
  • Aureolin (Michael Harding) (Cadmium yellow is a fine substitute)
  • Yellow Ochre Deep (Michael Harding)
  • Transparent Oxide Yellow (Michael Harding)
  • Raw Umber (Michael Harding)
  • Genuine Vermillion (Rublev) (Cadmium red is a fine substitute)
  • Magenta (Michael Harding)
  • Alizarin Crimson (Michael Harding)
  • Transparent Oxide Brown (Michael Harding)



  • Metal palette knife
  • Mahl Stick
  • Paper towels
  • Orderless Mineral Spirits – Gamsol
  • Proper jar/vessel to contain Gamsol


I use a variety in my normal practice. In short, we use mediums to alter the transparency, drying time and handling properties of the paint (among other things). Here are some of my standards:

  • Rublev has a good line of mediums
  • Oleoresgel (this is the only medium that I recommend you have for this workshop as it hastens the drying time between layers; any fast drying, or alkyd based medium will do)
  • Walnut Oil Gel
  • Epoxide Oil Gel
  • Balsam Essential Oil Medium
  • Velazquez Medium








10.00am - 17:00pm


(flexible start date)


Joshua LaRock




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