Jenny Doh – Day One

Magical Oil Portraits


The method I will teach is classified as “alla prima” or (wet on wet), also known as “direct painting.” In this workshop, we will use reference photos of portraits. With these references, I will show you how I prepare my substrate and then how I create overall strokes to plan the face and then fill in details in a manner that captures the essence of the face, and not just the likeness.

I will share details of my supplies and my organizational methods, as well as tips on how to draw accurately, and the fundamentals of color mixing. I will also share finishing methods that I consider the final magical moments of portrait painting.

Though intuition is an element that each of us will use in the class, this is not a typical “intuitive” painting class where anything goes. It is more of a technical class where we observe deeply, measure accurately, put on strokes of paint that are as true to the colors and values of our subjects. We will discuss concepts of realism, while aiming for magical realism, where we look within to make adjustments to the paint that we transfer from our brushes to our substrates, to make real, the vision of what we are painting and how we want our painting to look.


• Overview of tools and materials with principles of best practices in terms of handling paints, mediums, and caring for tools
• Basic principles of color-mixing
• How to tone the board
• How to make a rough drawing of subject onto the bord
• How to start painting the lightest areas first
• How to move into mid-tones and darker tones
• How to add finishing touches
• How to transport and care for an oil painting (note: Oil paints take longer to dry than other paints. Please bring a small, shallow container (like a shallow cardboard box or Tupperware) to place your painting in so that it can be transported without being touched.

Workshop Image Gallery (click on the thumbnail to see full images):

Jenny Doh

Duration of Class:

One Day (6 Hours)


Oil paint on gessobord

Skill Level:


Student Supply List:

For your convenience, I will provide walnut oil medium, mineral spirits, and all oil paints for each participant. This will help you use and understand my favorite paints before you make the investment into buying actual paints from my list. So in terms of what else you need to bring, here is the list:

  • SUBJECTS: Reference photos of people’s faces stored on your smart phone or tablet (like an iPad), devices fully charged. Also please print that out the photos from your phone/tablet on a standard sheet of paper. If you have an old family photo, take a photo of that photo and print it out. Photos with high contrast (lights and darks) is recommended. Also, if you are able to bring both a color version and a black & white version, that would be great. If you don’t have a photo, I will have many photo references that you can use.
  • SUBSTRATES: 2 or 3 Ampersand Gessobord (cradled or flat): Some of the sizes that I like using are 6 x 6, and 6 x 8 inches. I also sometimes use 5 x 7, and 8 x 8 inches. Make sure the bords do not have canvas texture or any texture to them. Just the smooth ampersand gessobords.
  • KNIFE : 1 small palette knife
  • PAINTBRUSHES:: Please don’t bring cheap, bad brushes. You will be fighting them throughout the workshop. If you can just afford one brush, get the Bright size 4 linked below.
  • Robert Simmons Titanium, Brights (size 1, 4, 8, 12)
  • PALETTE : Palette or palette paper (I like to use this glass palette with a white piece of paper placed underneath. If I don’t have this palette with me, I like to use white palette paper. I will have extra palette paper if you need to use mine.
  • Easel (the studio will have metal easels that can be used during class. If you have a sturdy wooden table easel like this one (that I have and love), please bring it, as it will provide greater stability as you work.
  • OPTIONAL: Panel Holder – Though it is possible to paint on gessobords without these holders, painting WITH these holders will make a world of difference in terms of ease. If your bord is 6×6 or 5×7, you can get the smaller size. If it is or 8×8 or larger, you will want the larger size.
  • MISC: Paper towels, apron, two small jars with lids, and baby wipes
  • Kit Fee: $10 (payable to instructor at class time)

Provided by instructor:

  • Kit includes: paints, medium, mineral spirits

Class Size:

Min # of students: 4
Max # of students: 20+