Using Colour in Portraits 1 – Warm & Cool Colour

Next Date TBA, get in touch if you’re interested

Portrait sketch using a restricted palette

Using Colour in Portraits 1, Warm & Cool Colour

This workshop will introduce you to the fundamentals using colour in portraits by focusing on warm and cool colour mixes helping you keep your colours clean and lively.

Christopher Clements will show you how to organise colour using an easy to understand restricted palette. The fundamental decision about colour after its tonal value is whether it is warm or cool. To study this you will work with a restricted palette of an earth red, blue and white. Even with such a limited palette you can get a wide range of colour and the small number of pigments allows you to concentrate on keeping the colour mixes simple and clean.

When using colour in portraits it is important to avoid one of the most common problems in painting – the dreaded ‘muddy’ painting. This is usually caused by two factors, confused tonal values and warm and cool colours getting muddled up, this workshop will help you address both problems.

Workshop Overview

The workshop will take you through the Direct Painting approach also known as Alla Prima which involves painting a portrait in one sitting. You’ll start with head construction exercises to make sure you have a strong drawing foundation to your work followed by colour mixing exercises.  Finally you’ll combine these in a portrait study from life. What you’ll learn is perfect for making stand alone sketches, studies for studio portraits or simply portrait sketching for your own enjoyment.

The workshop will also introduce you to an approach which will help you develop your painting in an organised way with sound technique. You’ll look at the technicalities of oil paint, it’s most effective use in this situation including layering, mediums and brushwork. As you develop your portrait study the approach will help you concentrate on one concept at a time. This provides you with a framework to greatly increase the efficiency of your work and enable you to pace the painting according to the time you have available.

  • How to paint a well structured head with accurately placed features
  • Planes of the head and tonal value
  • Using colour in portraits
  • Creating focus through varied brushwork and selective rendering of detail
  • Efficient use of time
  • Direct oil painting techniques


By the end of the workshop you’ll be familiar with the principles behind warm and cool colour. You’ll know more about using oil paint to work from life, choosing and mixing colour and how to handle paint effectively. You will have developed your observational painting abilities and learnt how to pace your work according to the time you have available.

The class is limited to 7 students so that you can work towards your own personal goals. Whether you’re looking to learn fundamental principles or push your skills from a more advanced position the workshop will have plenty to offer.

Essential Info & Booking

Price: £160 Reserve your place with £40 deposit on Eventbrite

Date: TBA

Location: Northern Realist, AWOL Studios, Hope Mill, Manchester –  Map

Materials: Oil paint

Course Length: 12 Hours over 2 Days

Hours: 09:45-16:30

Questions: Use Contact Form above right or visit the Contact Page or email