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Direct Portrait Painting from Life

Realist painting by Toronto Academy of Realist art School. Teaching based on 19th Century French Academies.

Workshop: direct-painting

Date: Oct 26, 2018 - Oct 28, 2018


Location: ARA Toronto

Instructor: Juan Martinez


Save your seat now for this workshop

$125.00 deposit is requested.

Please note: SPACE IS LIMITED. Registrations are not guaranteed until a deposit has been paid. If you require more information call 416-766-1280.

Tickets are not available as this event has passed.

**This workshop is now SOLD OUT – to be added to our waitlist, please contact us**

This 3-day workshop focuses on a head-and-shoulders portrait study painted from a live model using a direct approach. There will be a single, long-term sitting for the duration of the workshop. The direct method allows participants to explore all aspects of portraiture including anatomical structure, planes of the face and head, rhythms of warm and cool tones, expressive brushwork, achieving a likeness, etc.

Direct painting, although a modern term with a rather vague definition, is really a synthesis of both layering/glazing and wet-into-wet approaches. It is definitely “form painting,” as well, which requires deep understanding of structure and logic. Many old masters, most notably Rembrandt, used a direct method that is like sculpting with paint. Direct painting is efficient and endlessly expressive, yet there is no compromise of execution, nor of any of the principles of quality, craftsmanship, and draftsmanship.

Taught by Visiting Instructor Juan Carlos Martínez, this is a special opportunity to learn with this award-winning artist trained in the atelier tradition. Juan was a senior Instructor at ARA and taught with us for over 15 years. In addition to working on commissions, Juan has acquired an international reputation as an art educator. He has won several awards in the Art Renewal Center’s (ARC) Salon competition, as well as from the Portrait Society of America and the Portrait Society of Canada. Juan authored a popular six-part instructional series in International Artist Magazine entitled “The Academy Way” and has appeared on Bravo! TV’s “Star Portraits” program. You can view a sample of his work on our Faculty page or on his website.

Full workshop price is $400, and a $125 deposit is required to save your easel. The balance will be due on the first day of the workshop.

About ARA Workshops

Each participant gets lots of one-on-one attention from our superb instructors. ARA instructors teach year round so, unlike many artists who offer summer/holiday workshops our instructors are professional teachers as well as successful award-winning artists Whether you are an award winning experienced artist or have never painted before, our instructors will tailor to your skill level.

If you have any questions or are having trouble with online registration, please contact us.

Workshop hours

Most workshops are scheduled five days per week, Monday to Friday, with weekends free (unless otherwise noted). The hours are usually 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., but will occasionally go to 5:00 p.m.


If you are coming from out of town and need local accommodations, click here to see our list of inexpensive places to stay near the Academy.

Can’t make it this time?

We offer our workshops on a regular basis. Sign up for regular email workshop updates.

Where to buy art supplies?

Click here for a list of local art supply stores

Materials List


  • Either 1 (one) 16 x 12 in. or 1 (one) 20 x 16 in. canvas or panel. The most economical and simple surface to paint on is a stretched canvas primed with acrylic gesso. Panels are better options as they are more portable and smoother, which is preferable for both detail and brushwork. Good quality prepared panels such as Ampersand (gesso ground), RayMar (Oil ground), and Winsor & Newton (gesso or oil) and Fredrix, are available at nearby art stores; Aboveground Art Supplies and Articulations. Also, panels from New Traditions™, RealGesso™, or Art-Boards™ all are excellent choices but would have to be ordered online. If you wish to tone your canvas beforehand please do so early enough so that it is completely dry prior to the workshop. A mid-tone warm or neutral grey is ideal (Value #5 Munsell) mixed with black, white, and raw umber.

(Note: You can use a premixed #5 acrylic paint instead to tone an acrylic gesso but ensure that it is not applied too thickly; i.e, it should be transparent, like watercolour. Golden and Liquitex acrylics both tube #5 Neutral Grey paints. If working with an oil primed panel, then use only oil paint, but mix in a small amount of Liquin so that it dries well.)

COLOURS for flesh palette (oil paint only):

  • Titanium White + Cremnitz (Lead) White (if available)
  • Yellow Ochre PALE (Winsor & Newton) or Mars Yellow Light (Williamsburg) or Blue Ridge Yellow Ocher (Rublev)
  • Cadmium Red (true Cadmium only, not “Hue”)
  • Burnt Sienna (No Winsor & Newton nor Rembrandt for this paint)
  • Burnt Umber
  • Raw Umber
  • Alizarin Crimson
  • Viridian Green
  • Black (Ivory)
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • A natural earth red (PR 102) such as Terra Rosa, Rosso Veneto, Pompeii or Pozzuoli Reds, (Williamsburg); Red Umber or Red Ochre (Old Holland); Pozzuoli, Ercolano, or Pompeii Red (Rublev).


  • Have around 6 synthetic mongoose brushes ranging in sizes from 1-10 (filberts only)
  • 6 or 8 Hog’s bristle brushes in a range of sizes, as well. Filbert or square for larger bristles, filbert only for smaller bristles.
  • More detailed finished work will require soft (synthetic or natural) round brushes. 3 or 4 small rounds (sizes #1 to #0) should do it.


  • A faster drying medium such as Liquin™, available nearly everywhere.
  • A small container of odourless mineral spirits (OMS). No turpentine or citreous, please.

Note: These will be provided for you if you cannot find the product or if you are travelling by air.


  • 2 (two) small cups with lids for medium or mineral spirits. Available at art stores everywhere.
  • Palette knife — a narrow and flexible blade is best
  • Palette — Paper palettes (preferably a gray-toned palette, made by Richeson) are quick and convenient, but a prepared (i.e., sealed) wooden palette is ideal.
  • Roll of paper towels, Shop towels, a Box of tissue, or Clean rag(s)

If you have any questions, please contact Juan directly at juan@juanmartinez.com