Using Colour in Portraits 3: Full Colour Palette

Monday Evenings Online: 20th June – 22nd August 2022

(No class 11th & 18th July))

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Portrait of Jen by Christopher Clements

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Because there is a gap in the course this time we will do the colour exercises in the first 3 weeks and the portrait study in the second 5. This means you can book on for just the colour mixing exercises or the portrait study section, see the bottom of pages for details.


Paint an oil portrait using a full colour palette, plus colour mixing exercises to learn the fundamentals of painting skin tones over 8 sessions

  • Explore skin tone colour mixing using a full palette 
  • Paint a full colour head study in oil paint
  • Learn about underdrawing, perspective and anatomy of the head

A recording of each session will be available for 7 days in case you miss a session or for you to go over the lesson again.

During the course you’ll paint a portrait study using a full colour palette using a reference image sent to you.  

You’ll also complete practical colour mixing exercises designed to help you explore colour theory. These exercises will develop your understanding of the structure of a colour palette, the role of each pigment and how it combines to create clean, vibrant skin tones.

The exercises will provide a useful reference for future use as the principles you’ll learn underpin all colour mixing. The practical experience you’ll gain will give you a foundation to develop your own personal colour palette.

The approach is designed to develop your painting in logical way by making one decision at a time. You’ll learn how to lay out your palette and mix key colours, helping you stay organised and deal with common mixing problems. The course aims to give you a structure to help you navigate the seemingly endless possibilities when working in colour.

You’ll learn how to: 

  • Analyse the colour you see 
  • Make informed decisions about your colour mixing
  • Look for and use the characteristics of each pigment effectively
  • Increase or decrease the intensity of colour
  • Adapt to the skin tones of different people
  • Set up your palette to make your workflow more effective

As you develop your portrait study you’ll learn about the technicalities of oil paint, including layering, mediums and brushwork. What you’ll learn will be perfectly suited painting for your own enjoyment, making stand alone portraits, studies for studio portraits or simply developing your knowledge of colour use.

The course will take place via Zoom and a recording will be available for a week after each session in case you miss a session or for you to go over the lesson again. 

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Is this course for me?

Everyone is welcome, some experience of drawing and painting is recommended however everything will be explained. The course will really suit you if you:

  • Want to improve your knowledge of colour use
  • Have experience of painting and want to push your skills 
  • Are looking for an enjoyable and informing portrait painting course

If you’ve already done one of the Northern Realist portrait painting courses, this is the ideal next step.

Course Overview

Each week, Christopher will begin the session with an explanation and demonstration of what he’s going to cover. You’ll then work on your own painting using reference images sent to you, getting plenty of personal feedback as you progress.

The first three weeks will deal with the colour mixing exercises, you’ll then work on a portrait study using a reference photo sent to you. Initially you’ll look at the structure of the head; in particular, proportion, orientation and placement of the features as well as compositional principles.

As you work on your portrait study you’ll use the use what you’ve learned in the colour exercises to develop your painting in stages enabling you to concentrate on one concept at a time. 

During the course you will:

  • learn to identify colour and mix accurate skin tones
  • paint a well structured head study
  • create focus through brushwork and selective rendering of detail

By the end of the course you will have learnt:

  • how a full colour palette works 
  • how to use it to keep your colour clean, unified and lively
  • painting technique, including layering, mediums and brushwork

You will have the option of joining a Whatsapp group to send you essential images and provide group feedback throughout the course.

A recording of each session will be available to participants for the week following each lesson allowing you to continue to work on your painting and recap on the week’s principles or catch up if you miss a session.

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Essential Info & Booking

Because there is a gap in the course we will do the colour exercises in the first 3 weeks and the portrait study in the second 5 weeks. This means you can book on for just the colour mixing exercises or the portrait study section or both.

This might be because you just want to do the colour mixing exercises, have done the course before but want to brush up on either part, or are confident in your colour mixing and want practice and feedback on the portrait painting,

  • Full Course £240 8 Mondays, 20th June – 22nd August 2022 (No class 11th & 18th July)
  • Colour Mixing Lessons 3 Weeks, 20th June – 4th July £100
  • Portrait Study Lessons: 5 Weeks; 25th July – 22nd August £175 

Time: 18:30-21:00

Location: Online via Zoom

How to Book: Bookings for either part or all the course are made by paying a £40 deposit via Eventbrite, you will then be invoiced for the remaining  balance directly depending on which option you go for. This is due before the course begins. Follow the ‘Book Now’ links on this page to Eventbrite pay your deposit.

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

How The Course Works and What You’ll Need

The workshop will be done using Zoom. After booking you’ll be sent a reference image and a link to the first Zoom meeting. From week 2, invitations to each week’s Zoom meeting will be sent half an hour before each session.

A Whatsapp group will be created for the course to send images for feedback and share demos and reference material. You’re welcome, but not obliged to join it.

You’ll need an internet connection and webcam and the following materials:

  • Willow Charcoal
  • A putty eraser
  • Charcoal fixative
  • 3 pieces of primed canvas or canvas paper
  • A range of hog bristle painting brushes 
  • Turpentine, Odourless Mineral Spirits, Sansodor, Zest it or similar
  • Cold Pressed Linseed Oil
  • Painting Palette
  • Dipping Cup
  • Rags and Kitchen Roll

Oil Paints

  • Titanium White
  • Ivory Black
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Hansa Yellow or Cadmium Lemon Yellow
  • Cadmium Yellow Light or Cadmium Yellow Light Hue
  • Cadmium Red or Cadmium Red Hue
  • Transparent Oxide Red or Burnt Sienna
  • Crimson Alizarin
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Cobalt Blue or Cerulean Blue
  • Viridian

How can I contact the organiser with any questions?


What’s the refund policy?

  • No deposit refunds unless the course is cancelled, remainder refunds up to 2 weeks in advance.
  • Full refund including deposit if the course is cancelled

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