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Portrait Painting

James Middleton

All Welcome
May 29, June 5, 12, 19
9 - 3pm

About the Workshop

“A portrait is a celebration, of love, of life or of achievement.”

This 4-day workshop focuses on head-and-shoulders portrait studies, painted from a live model. 

Although many of today’s portraits are made from photographs, nothing teaches you more about painting than doing it from life.

We will explore various aspects of portraiture including learning to see like an artist, achieving a likeness, various ways to start the portrait (we are all wired differently). We will explore proportion, massing, values, colour temperature (warm/cool), edges (hard/soft), brushwork, using direct painting techniques.

To begin, we will first concentrate on drawing, monochrome and simplified colour studies. Over the last two sessions, we will complete a full colour portrait. Our goal is to develop a higher level of skill while having lots of fun translating the reality of another person into paint.

Suitable for Oil or Acrylic painters.

Paint Brushes

Material List

(We will discuss further on the first day)

Paint – oil or acrylic

I recommend a fairly limited palette. The following are suggestions.

- Titanium White
- Cadmium Yellow
- Yellow Ochre
- Cadmium Red
- Transparent Oxide Red/Burnt Sienna
- Ultramarine Blue
- Alizarin Crimson (optional)
- Viridian Green (optional)
- Ivory Black (optional)


Any high-quality brush will do. Bristle Filberts, Flats, Rounds, sizes 2-8 for smaller work and larger sizes to suit your needs. Bring a small softer brush for details (optional).

Supports – canvases, boards (fairly smooth tooth)

Since we will be starting with studies, I recommend that you bring 2 or 3 at 16”x20”, 1 at 18”x24” or larger for the last two days.


- Sketchpad – bond or newsprint (11x14 minimum)
- A palette (glass/wood/large paper tear-off palettes)
- Odourless mineral spirit – or water if you will be using water-soluble oils or acrylics
- Container for solvent/water, with lid
- Pencil (2b, 4b, etc.) or charcoal, sharpener (blade) and eraser
- Painting knife (fairly small)
- Paper towels (for cleaning brushes)
- Plastic grocery bag (for used paper towels)
- Tool to steady your hand while painting – mahl stick or walking stick (hook the handle over the top edge of canvas)


Your Instructor

James Middleton

James Middleton is a portrait painter, landscape artist and workshop instructor living on the South Shore of Nova Scotia.  

Corporate Design and Branding 

After graduating with a degree in graphic design from York University/Sheridan College in Ontario, James was senior designer with the Toronto firm Newton Frank Arthur Inc., before founding Middleton Design Associates Inc. 

James and his team were responsible for many award-winning, corporate brand identity and marketing communications programs for many of Canada’s leading corporations, institutions and the Government of Ontario. 

A Return to Fine Art 

After over 25 years in the design business, James returned to his first love, painting. In addition to painting landscapes, James maintains an active schedule painting portraits of business, government and medical professionals, individuals and families. 


James is a member of The Portrait Society of Canada, The Portrait Society of America, The Society of Canadian Artists, Oil Painters of America, The Ontario Plein Air Society, Sunrise Painters Portrait Group (founding member) and The Plein Air Painters of the Bay of Fundy. 

James’ work has been recognized by many organizations and publications, including the Portrait Society of Canada’s 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014 National Portrait Competition “The Miracle of the Portrait“ – Finalist/Certificate of Merit; Portrait Society of Canada’s 2008 “International Portrait Arts Festival Competition“ – Finalist and Certificate of Merit; Society of Canadian Artists’ National Juried Show “Roots“ – 2nd Place (portrait); Art Gallery of Peel’s Annual Juried Show – Best Painting (portrait); ArtWorks Oakville’s Annual Juried Show – 2nd Place (portrait); Society of Canadian Artists’ Annual National Juried Show – 3rd Place (portrait); Richeson 75 Figure/Portrait Juried Show; Visual Arts Mississauga Annual Juried Show; Bold Brush Painting Competitions; Studio Magazine; Canadian Brushstroke Magazine – Contemporary Portraits. 

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