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Due to rising COVID-19 cases in Toronto, our physical location is currently closed.

Contact Colleen at or 416-766-1280 if you are interested in joining our weekly virtual classes.

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Portrait Drawing with Charcoal and White Chalk at Home

Workshop: portrait-drawing-at-home-2021

Date: May 3, 2021 - May 14, 2021

Duration: 6 days

Location: Virtual workshop – Zoom video conferencing

Instructor: Suwhan Lim

Price: 450.00

Save your seat now for this workshop

$450.00 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.


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Want to draw in a more painterly way? Get ready to be loose and expressive with your drawings. In this virtual workshop, Instructor Suwhan Lim will show students how to work in the style of John Singer Sargent with charcoal and white chalk. This combination functions as a push and pull of soft materials that move. And yes, we will even be using brushes! Working with soft dry media like charcoal is a great exercise for transitioning from drawing to painting.

Students can choose to work from their own images, transforming their favourite photographs into works of art — just email them to us first to get pre-approval from the instructor. Photo options will also be provided by us.

The lessons will guide students from beginning to end in achieving a stronger likeness in capturing a portrait through live demos. Students will be taught techniques such as selecting and preparing the right tools, how to measure properly, and how to manipulate charcoal in a painterly way. Students will also learn concepts such as abstraction, light logic, and how to achieve context by building from general to specific. The workshop will cover how to start with the structure of the head, focusing on proportion and placement of the features. A strong emphasis will be placed on creating the forms or volumes of the face, paying extra attention to shapes, values, and edges. The end effect is a dramatic three-dimensional portrait.

Appropriate for all levels.


Workshop dates

This two-week virtual workshop will convene for instruction and critiques through Zoom video conferencing on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings, 7 – 10 pm ET.

Week 1: May 3, 5, 7
Week 2: May 10, 12, 14


Topics covered

• How to prepare and work with vine charcoal, white chalk
• Basic stages of academic drawing
• How to simplify nature
• The value scale
• Softness of edges
• Abstraction
• How to properly set up a workstation for an academic setting
• Light logic
• How to carry on improving your drawing skills after this workshop



Suwhan Lim attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for his undergraduate studies and subsequently pursued independent studies in Paris, Florence, and Rome for a year.

After Suwhan moved back to Canada, he enrolled at ARA. After one year of study here, Suwhan began teaching the drawing program, including figure and portrait drawing.

Currently, Suwhan is working in the games industry using the great foundational skills acquired at the Academy to create photorealistic 3D models, as well as teaching drawing and painting through virtual classes at ARA. Aside from traditional and 3D art, Suwhan also specializes in helping students prepare their portfolios for their post-secondary applications for their dream schools.

Full workshop price is $450, payable up front to save your spot. 

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.

All participants attending workshops at our physical location will be required to follow our studio policies in effect to prevent the spread of COVID-19:


On entering the Columbus Centre, please use the hand sanitization stations in the lobby and elevator. Upon arriving on the 3rd floor, all arriving students are also expected to wash their hands in one of the sinks in the Figure and Workshop rooms.

Students and instructors are expected to wear masks at all times.


All horses and easels will be taped and placed 6 feet apart to ensure enough distance between you and your neighbours. These are not to be moved. Instructors will wear masks at all times and practice social distancing while instructing.


Frequent hand sanitization throughout your time in the school is asked. Sanitization stations are located outside of each studio. The lunch room will not be available, so please plan accordingly and follow social distancing rules during breaks.

We ask that any students who are feeling unwell or who have had recent close contact with a confirmed case, please stay home and self-isolate. Contact us before your workshop starts and we will issue a refund or apply your deposit to future workshop.


Please note the travel restrictions that are in place during the pandemic, and respect required 14-day quarantine periods if you have traveled recently. 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 on our homepage.

Where to buy art supplies?

Click here for a list of local art supply stores.

Materials List


  • 1: 2B professional grade graphite pencil (e.g. Staedtler, Tombow, Mitsubishi, etc.)
  • 1 pack of each: Nitram charcoal sticks in H, HB; and 6 or 8 mm extra soft round-petit batons (6 mm preferred)
  • 2 of each (optional): General’s charcoal pencils 2H, HB, 2B
  • 2-3: General’s white chalk pencils


  • 1 – 18X24 inches


  • Pad of cartridge or bond paper (18”x24”)
  • Pad of tracing paper (9”x12”)
  • You will also need 1-3 sheets of good paper; this can be any mid-tone textured paper in a neutral (grey) colour of your choice (can be a colour, but nothing too bright). Some suggested brands:
    • Canson Mi-Teintes 19″x25″ (e.g. moonstone or sky blue, or any of the other neutral colours)
    • BFK Rives
    • St Armand


  • Nitram sanding block, or 1 of each: sandpaper sheets in 80 grit, 160 grit and 240 grit
  • Knitting needle 2.5 to 3.5 mm thickness
  • Masking tape
  • Eraser – one white (Tombow Mono Zero Round Shape recommended), one kneadable
  • Pencil extender
  • Mahl stick (a ½ inch diameter dowel approximately 30 inches)
  • Stomps

BRUSHES: please bring filbert brushes; flats and rounds not necessary

  • 2 synthetic bristle hair brushes – sizes #2 or #4, and #10

Note – do not buy expensive brushes for drawing.