A Brief Course in Painting

This past month, I took a portrait painting class from our local community college, A-B Tech.  I got a lot of strange looks from friends when I told them I would be taking a portrait painting class.  “But… you are a portrait painter” was a typical response.

True.   But there is so much to learn!  I think it’s always a great idea to get fresh perspectives on your medium.  There are endless ways to paint and it’s so easy to get stuck in a rut of painting the same way every time.  Approaching each work like you did the last.

I also had never been formally taught how to paint with oils.  When I asked my painting professor in college, she suggested I read a book.  I’m not a book learner when it comes to anything arts or crafts.  So I just kept experimenting, asking other artists along the way.

The teacher for this course, Ursula Gullow, started the series with a demo of how she approaches her portraits (in oil or acrylic) and then let us set to work.  She encouraged us to do much of the editing of the face in the painting process, not worrying about the sketch too much. From there, we were allowed to work on our own projects and she came around to help and talk about our progress.

My goal for the class was to try to loosen up a little in my application.  Working in a new environment from reference photos of people I didn’t know (never happens in my personal work) allowed me to have less attachment to the outcome of the piece (also very rare for me).

I’m not sure where these two pieces will go in the long run, but here are two of the pieces I worked on in the four weeks of class.


And I started this on the last night… it’s just the under painting.  The blur on the right eye is from a happy dog’s tail the night I brought it home…

Ursula also has a blog which can be found here.


6 Comments Add yours

  1. Dad says:

    This must have been very refreshing to have a chance to come at your painting from a new direction. I really like them (particularly the dog tail smear;).


  2. Nat says:

    Seriously. You and Amelia could start collaborating on pieces. And you could charge twice as much for the finished product. 😉

  3. Stacey says:

    It goes to show you the importance of humbling yourself, allowing yourself to continue learning turned out some beautiful pieces that are very different for you.

  4. Leon wessel says:

    Harper good job hon I like it


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