How to Paint Expressive Portraits

Jonathan Hardesty
9 Lessons (8h 19m)
9 Week(s)

Two Ways to Learn


most popular

  1. Watch Video Lessons at Your Own Pace
  2. Assignments Included
  3. Peer Feedback
  4. Switch Courses as Often as You Like
  5. Access to all Schoolism Webinars included

Critiqued Sessions

personalized instructor feedback

  1. Watch Video Lessons with a Planned Curriculum
  2. Scheduled Assignments with Deadlines
  3. Personalized paint-overs and feedback videos
  4. Peer feedback
  5. Ability to Contact Instructor with Questions
  6. Physical Certificate of Completion (Mailed to you anywhere in the world)
  7. Access to all Schoolism Webinars included

Course Description

Unleash your artistic potential in this Expressive Portrait Painting course! Dive into a world of techniques, methods, and secrets to creating emotionally charged and expressive portraits.

Master values, colors, expressive brushwork, and facial anatomy as you breathe life into your subjects. Break free from traditional techniques and embrace bold brushwork to create portraits that captivate and move viewers. With expert guidance from Jon, you will discover the secrets to capturing accurate skin tones, subtle nuances of value and edge, and vibrant color schemes that make your portraits pop!

Whether you're a beginner or an experienced artist, this transformative course will expand your skills and set your creativity ablaze. Enroll now to embark on an exhilarating artistic quest and create powerful, emotive portraits!

With SELF TAUGHT classes, you get all access to the class videos as well as the critique videos but no personal critiques for your own work. To register for the SELF-TAUGHT classes click "REGISTER."

➡︎ For the ‘Critiqued Sessions’, students will meet up with Jonathan Hardesty LIVE once per week on Wednesdays at 8am PT / 11am ET.

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Drawing Tablet

Lesson Plan

In this lecture, we will explore the value-based approach to painting portraits. Students will learn to separate lights from darks and simplify the shadow structure to create a solid foundation for expressive strokes. The lecture will cover:

- Introduction to the value-based approach

- Brief overview of the form-based approach

- Importance of simplifying shadow shapes

- Analyzing reference photos for major value shapes

- Demonstration of expressive strokes placed over top of simple values

In this lecture, students will delve into the construction/form-based approach to painting portraits. By understanding and capturing the underlying structure of the face, students will develop the proper foundation to create expressive brushwork. The lecture will cover the following key points:

- Introduction to the construction/form-based approach

- Importance of understanding facial structure

- Examples of simplified facial structure essential of accurate representation

- Applying lighting to emphasize form and depth in their portraits

- Combining this approach with expressive brushwork

In this lecture, students will dive into understanding the major anatomical structures of the face and how to simplify them for practical use in portraits. By exploring the bones and muscles of the face, students will gain valuable insights into capturing realistic and expressive portraits. The lecture will cover the following key points:

- Students will learn the major anatomical structures of the face and their practical application in portraits through step-by-step demonstrations

- In the demonstrations, students will be guided to paint a simplified skull and accurately layer the discussed major muscle groups

- Techniques will be taught to simplify facial anatomy into a practical structure for portrait painting, focusing on key elements for expression and form

In this lecture, students will learn the essential techniques for discerning, painting, and manipulating the expressions of the face in portrait painting. Jon will delve into the anatomical and structural aspects of the face that contribute to each individual's expression. Key points covered in the lecture:

- Explore the six major expressions of the human face, understanding how each expression is formed through the interplay of muscles, bones, and facial features

- To aid in understanding, students will learn to simplify expressions into a simple and practical cartoon version of each expression

- Jon will thoroughly discuss the key factors that determine each expression, drawing examples from the anatomical model created in the previous lecture

In this lecture, students will focus on the key techniques involved in capturing the likeness or "big impression" of an individual's portrait while allowing for expressive manipulation. Jon will guide students in maintaining the resemblance to the subject while infusing their own artistic interpretation. Key points covered in the lecture:

- Understanding the significance of capturing the essential characteristics that make a portrait recognizable as the subject, while still allowing room for creative expression

- Jon will discuss techniques for manipulating the portrait in an expressive manner without compromising the likeness. Students will learn to push the boundaries of exaggeration and distortion while keeping the essence of the subject intact

- Keeping the big impression in mind: Students will be encouraged to maintain the overall impression or essence of the subject throughout the painting process

In this lecture, students will explore the art of painting expressively with color and will master the creation of captivating skin tones in their portraits. The focus will be on understanding the relativity of color and maintaining proper color relationships. Key points covered in the lecture:

- The relativity of color: How color perception can be influenced by surrounding colors

- The proper methods to preserve accurate color relationships in their paintings

- Jon will provide multiple demonstrations showcasing different skin tones and challenging color families

- Embracing the power of color: Color is a powerful tool in an artist's arsenal. Students will be encouraged to use color boldly and effectively to enhance the impact of their portrait paintings and evoke emotions in the viewer

In this lecture, students will learn to create bold and expressive brushwork in their portrait paintings. Key techniques for achieving impactful brushstrokes will be explored, enabling students to capture proportion, value, edge, and color in a single stroke. Emphasis will also be placed on establishing a solid foundation through the underpainting process to support expressive brushwork. Key points covered in the lecture:

- Making bold and expressive brushstrokes: Students will learn the essential principles and techniques for creating dynamic and expressive brushwork

- Students will learn the proper method of establishing the underpainting, focusing on structural accuracy and simplification to lay the groundwork for their subsequent brushwork

In Lecture 8, students will delve into the art of controlling textures in portrait painting. This lesson focuses on understanding and managing various textures commonly encountered when depicting portraits, such as subsurface scattering, wet or moist skin, stubble, tattoos, and more. By gaining a comprehensive grasp of these textures, students will expand their range of expression and enhance the realism of their artwork. Let's explore the key details covered in this lecture:

- Jon will unpack and analyze the intricacies of various portrait textures. By unraveling the secrets behind these textures, students will be able to create more lifelike and engaging portraits.

- By mastering portrait textures, students will unlock a wider range of expressive possibilities, enabling them to infuse their artwork with depth, character, and emotion.

In our final lesson, students will learn to create an expressive and compelling portrait while injecting it with imaginary elements. The key topics covered in this lesson are:

- Students will learn to effectively combine disparate references, textures, and various inspirations to create a fresh and exciting portrait

- Jon will provide a demo showcasing imaginative elements. Throughout the demo he will effectively manipulate and combine elements to create an imaginative and expressive portrait


Jonathan Hardesty

Born in Dallas, TX in 1980, Jonathan's first artistic endeavour began at the University of Pennsylvania where he started basic drawing and figure drawing courses. At the age of 22, his drive for more rigorous and traditional training led him to apply to the classical realist atelier, Pantura Studios, to study under masters Hans-Peter Szameit and Sanna Tomac. After studying for nearly three years, Jonathan and his wife moved to Dallas, Texas where he began building his body of work and honing his skill set. In addition, for over fifteen years, he has been teaching traditional atelier methods to a small group of committed and talented students. Jonathan has sold many paintings and his work is included in various collections throughout the United States. Jonathan has also been exhibited in invitational shows both nationally and in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Jonathan currently lives in Dallas with his wife and three children.