Portrait Painting From Life

Hard Light vs Soft Light

session 1

June 3, 2024 – June 14, 2024



Painting a portrait can be both exciting and challenging. It requires the acquisition of many different skills that continue to build and harmonize as you grow as a painter. In my years of experience as a portrait painter, I have found that you need several different approaches based on the unique scenarios you may find yourself in. This workshop will cover the two main lighting scenarios in portrait painting, hard light and soft light, and my approaches to them. We will make two types of paintings one with an under drawing technique that will be used for the soft light scenario. We will fully renter a drawing on our painting surface then spray it and use an Ebauche technique popular in the 19th century over it. The second approach will be for the hard light scenario in which we will use, a bold sense of notan design and edge quality, to block in. Then with more of an improvisational sense of brushstrokes and color variety we will work up the painting in a more painterly approach. 


There will be periodic lectures on given topics, such as color and Notan design, and also museum visits, talking about the history of painting, and the innovations of specific painters like Caravaggio and Velazquez.


The Main topics we will look at: 

  • Hard Light / Soft Light
  • Structural Drawing Concepts for the Portrait
  • Charcoal Technique
  • Ebauche Technique
  • Notan Design
  • Flesh Palette Setup with Bold Diversity
  • The Painting Cycle
  • Brushstroke Diversity
Steve Forster

Steve Forster



Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about this workshop. If you have a question that isn’t addressed in the workshop description or these faqs, use the “Ask a Question”  button and we will be happy to get you the information!


What experience level is this workshop appropriate for?

This workshop is appropriate for people with some background in drawing and painting.

What materials will I need to bring and what will be provided?

You will need to bring paints, panels/canvas, brushes and drawing materials. We will provide all solvents, mediums and easels. There is a well stocked art supply store near the studio where you can obtain anything tyou need that you did not bring with you.