Jenny Doh – Magical Oil Portraits

Duration of Class: One Day (6 Hours) // Medium: Oil paint on gessobord // Skill Level: All


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 board
• How to start painting the values from light, medium to dark
• How to add color onto the value strokes
• 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. Another option is to find an old hardcover book that is slightly larger (about an inch or two on all sides) than the board and bring that book. I’ll show you how to gut the pages out and transform it into a carrying devise.


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Day 1 (9/28/18)

Class Size

Min # of students: 5
Max # of students: 20

Supply List

For your convenience, I will provide walnut oil medium, mineral spirits, palette paper, 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. If you have an old family photo, take a photo of that photo and store it on your device. Photos with high contrast (lights and darks) is recommended. 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 6x6, 6x8, 8x8, and 8x10 inches. Make sure the boards do not have canvas texture or any texture to them. Just the smooth Ampersand Gessobords.
  • KNIFE: 1 small palette knife
  • PAINTBRUSHES: I use short flat brushes. They are also called “brights”. Do not bring long flats, which look like short flat/brights. I like either Robert Simmons Titanium or the Shiraz brushes by Rosemary & Co.
  • Robert Simmons Titanium, Brights - One size 1, Two size 4, One size 12-OR- Shiraz, Bright by Rosemary & Co. - One size 1, Two size 4, One size 10
  • EASEL: If you have a collapsible table easel (aluminum or wood) please bring it. If you don’t have an easel, bring a large roll of paper towels.
  • OPTIONAL: Panel holder. Not required by very nice to have.
  • MISC: Paper towels, baby wipes, apron, and two small jars with lids
  • Kit Fee: $10 per student (payable to instructor at class time) Includes paints, medium, mineral spirits and palette paper

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