Mastery in Portrait Art: The Basics of Classical Painting I

From Drawing to Painting

This practical course is designed to impart fundamental skills in creating classical portraits using oil paints. Over ten sessions, you will explore the techniques and methods that have shaped portrait painting from the Renaissance through the Dutch Golden Age to the era of John Singer Sargent.

By the end of this course, you will have developed a solid understanding of the classical approach to portrait painting and will have completed a portrait in oil that reflects their skills and knowledge of the techniques covered.

a woman with a flower in her hair

Course Duration:

10 lessons – 2.5 hours per lesson

Target Audience:

  • Beginner to intermediate artists interested in classical portrait painting.
  • Artists who wish to deepen their understanding of oil painting techniques.
  • Art students and hobbyists looking to expand their skill set.
  • Students who have participated in our course: Mastery in Portrait Art: The Basics of Classical Drawing are fully prepared for this course.

Learning Objectives for Mastery in Portrait Art: The Basics of Classical Painting I

By the end of this course, you are able to:

Lesson 1: Introduction to Classical Portraiture

  1. Recognise key historical milestones in the development of portrait art from the Renaissance to the early 20th century.
  2. Understand the essential materials and tools used in classical oil painting.
  3. Set up a palette and prepare the workspace for oil painting.

Lesson 2: Drawing Fundamentals

  1. Comprehend the fundamental proportions and anatomy of the head and face.
  2. Apply techniques for sketching a portrait with accuracy and expression using charcoal.
  3. Transfer a drawing onto canvas with confidence and prepare the canvas for oil painting.

Lesson 3: The Underpainting

  1. Utilise the grisaille method to establish a tonal underpainting.
  2. Develop an understanding of value and tonal work to create form and dimensionality.
  3. Experiment with light and shadow to enhance the three-dimensional effect of a portrait.

Lesson 5: Colour Theory and Mixing

  1. Grasp basic colour theory and its application in portrait painting.
  2. Mix skin tones accurately and apply foundational layers of oil paint.

Lesson 6: Facial Features and Hair

  1. Paint realistic eyes, noses, and mouths by focusing on form, light, and texture.
  2. Implement fine-tuning techniques for facial features.
  3. Master the painting of hair, understanding its flow and how it integrates with the head.

Lesson 7: Hands and Additional Elements

  1. Capture the expression and form of hands within the context of a portrait.
  2. Integrate the hands into the overall composition of the portrait effectively.

Lesson 8: The Background

  1. Select appropriate backgrounds that complement the subject of the portrait.
  2. Create depth and atmosphere in the background.
  3. Achieve compositional balance between the subject and the background.

Lesson 9: Mastering the Light

  1. Apply advanced techniques for rendering light and its effects on the subject.
  2. Adjust the impact of the light source to enhance environmental mood in the portrait.
  3. Refine the portrait by skilfully adding highlights and shadows.

Lesson 9: Glazing and Finishing Touches

  1. Understand the art of glazing and its role in achieving luminosity, depth, and intensity in oil painting.
  2. Add final details and highlights to bring the portrait to life.
  3. Review and refine the portrait to prepare for final presentation.

Lesson 10: The Final Portrait

  1. Conduct a comprehensive review and refinement of the final portrait.
  2. Participate in a final critique to receive and provide constructive feedback.
  3. Learn the steps for varnishing and preserving the finished artwork.

Participants will leave the course not only with a completed oil portrait that demonstrates their new skills and understanding of classical techniques but also with a foundational skill set that will serve as a springboard for further exploration in the art of portraiture.

All Materials are included, except brushes and canvas (loose canvas for exercises are included).

Additional Features:

  • Handouts and learning objectives.
  • Access to high-quality reference materials.
  • Demonstration videos and supplemental resources.
Mastery in Portrait Art: The Basics of Classical Painting I

Requirements for this Painting Course

  • No experience is required, although some drawing experience is useful. More important is your passion to learn and refine your skills.
  • Almost all materials are provided, so you are free to explore the art of portrait painting.
  • This basic course is ideal to prepare you for painting the classical portrait in oil part II.

The class is limited to a maximum of five people to ensure an informal atmosphere that invites discovery, learning, and enjoyment.

Course Fee

A block of 10 lessons (2.5 hours per lesson) costs 350 euro, including coffee, tea, materials (canvas and brushes excluded).


KUNSTHUIS André, Segeersstraat 43, 4331 JM Middelburg, The Netherlands

STARTING (No classes are given during holidays).

  • Group S1: September 13, 2024 – Friday morning 9:30 – 12:00 [ FULLY BOOKED – YOU MAY REGISTER FOR THE WAITING LIST OR REGISTER FOR February 2025 – dates to be announced soon]
  • Group S2: September 10, 2024 – Tuesday morning 9:30 – 12:00 [ FULLY BOOKED – YOU MAY REGISTER FOR February 2025 – dates to be announced soon]

A missed lesson can be made up by arrangement.


André Romijn


Lessons are given in Dutch and/or English.

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