Luminous Portraits & Simultaneous Realities


Joanna Barnum

Monday, Tues, Wed, June 25,26,27 9:30am-4:00pm

$175 members, $200 non-members

Call Debra at 302-228-9798.

Credit card info accepted over the phone.

203  Main  Street

Millsboro, DE 19966

Space is limited to 20

Join Joanna Barnum, NWS, BWS, for a three day exploration of the portrait in watercolor.

Learn a fundamental approach to the portrait by building layers of warm and cool washes over a preliminary drawing to create naturalistic skin tones and build the illusion of three dimensional form.

Then, explore how to integrate personal experimentation and storytelling into the portrait, moving beyond simply painting directly from photo reference.


Supplies & Photo Information


-At least two different portrait photos, two copies of each image- 8.5” x 11” or larger color prints/copies to use as reference- non-flash photos printed from a high resolution source recommended, but home prints on plain printer paper are fine- need not be expensive glossy reproductions. One can be printed at slightly higher quality, and one can be a draft copy or even black and white photocopy (for transfer). Also, bring one or two photos of other imagery, such as landscape, flowers, animals- anything you like that's not a person.


Or, contact me in advance to request copies of sample references. (Note that permission to use these photos is granted for educational purposes only- please use your own photos for exhibitions/sales)


-Optional, completed or started preliminary drawing from your photo on final surface or full size sketch paper. The bulk of workshop time will be spent focused on color and painting technique, not drawing, so if you prefer to draw freehand rather than transferring from photo, and are a slower or finicky drawer, you may want to have something prepared in advance for the first project.


-Optional, graphite transfer paper: Two possible preliminary drawing approaches use graphite paper to transfer directly from one copy of your photo or from a full sized sketch. If you prefer to draw only directly on your final surface, graphite paper is not needed, but you may still find it useful when trying some of the more experimental techniques. I will also have some extra available to borrow. (Note: Do NOT buy Mona Lisa/Speedball brand transfer paper, it is too waxy. Sally's Graphite Transfer Paper is a good possible choice.)


-Watercolor paper: Artist quality, 9” x 12” or larger, 140 lbs or greater, several pieces. I use Arches 140 lb cold press.


-Pencils: I suggest a light pencil (such as 2H), an HB/#2 pencil, a mechanical pencil with HB/#2 lead, and a white eraser.


-Ballpoint pen: Any color, any quality, this is for graphite paper transfers.


-Tape: Scotch, masking, whatever


-Masking Fluid


-Old bristle brushes: One or two medium to large rough bristled brushes, such as for acrylic or oil painting- old or cheap, they will be ruined with masking fluid.


-Your usual watercolor paints, brushes, palette, water container, etc. Whatever you normally prefer is fine. Be sure to have both a warm and cool red in your palette (such as warm cadmium red or scarlet lake and cool alizarin crimson), and cerulean blue is a good addition for my approach if you don't have it. A note on cerulean: in Winsor & Newton, I actually prefer the student “Cotman” cerulean over the artist grade cerulean as it is more transparent. A range of brush sizes, including larger brushes, such as a #16 round and a 1” flat or wash.


Detailed Supply List & Color Palette


Note that it is NOT necessary to have exactly these supplies. Most of you are coming in to this workshop with enough previous watercolor experience that you probably already have a set of stuff you like. But here's more information about what I use, and what I suggest to my beginner students, in case you want it.


Drawing tools:

-HB/#2 pencil (regular or mechanical)

-4H pencil

-white artist's eraser

-Graphite transfer paper

-Pencil sharpener

-Sketchbook or notebook for taking notes, if you like


Optional setup equipment. These make it easier to tilt your painting while working, or transporting to and from class:

-Drawing board, masonite board, or gatorboard larger than the size you would like to paint

-Masking tape or blue painter's tape


Painting tools:

-Water container (any jar, can, plastic container, etc.)

-Plastic palette with wells/reservoirs. Larger is better.



-I like Robert Simmons White Sable brushes, but you may use any watercolor brushes you have, as long as they are of reasonable quality. You want round brushes to taper to a nice point when wet. Avoid super cheap craft or discount brush sets, they will fall apart, and won't hold a good shape.

-# 14, 10, 4, and 1 or 0 rounds, or similar range of sizes. You don't need more than one of each.

-1” flat or “one stroke”



-I use Windsor & Newton tube watercolors, but any name brand tube is probably OK. Windsor & Newton's student grade “Cotman” paints are just fine. Avoid store brand or bargain sets of paints, and avoid cake/pan watercolors (although Windsor & Newton makes a pretty good pan watercolor set that is good for travel).

-A cool red, such as permanent alizarin crimson or quinacridone red

-A warm red, such as cadmium red or scarlet lake

-A cool yellow, such as lemon yellow

-A warm yellow, such as cadmium yellow dark or transparent yellow

-Ultramarine or cobalt blue

-Cerulean blue

-Sap green

-Viridian (or Winsor) green

-Payne's grey

-Burnt umber or burnt sienna

-Dioxazine (or Winsor) violet

-Permanent rose



-Arches 140lb cold press, 9” x 12” or larger, in any form- individual sheets, pad, block

Most watercolor paper you can buy in local stores is TERRIBLE, except for Arches. It is well worth it to learn using Arches- cheap paper will fight you.

-An okay paper (which functions a lot differently from Arches) for practice and quick studies is Strathmore 140lb cold press 400 series pad with the brown cover (not the yellow cover)

Feel free to e-mail me in advance with any questions about photos, preparation, or materials:

Joanna Barnum 410.428.3432

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