July 24-28 (5 days, Tues-Sat)     Fee $550

NICHOLAS PEARCE ~ Figure to Face

About the workshop

Media: acrylic

Levels: all levels

If you’ve ever wanted to paint a portrait but were afraid it would be too difficult, this 5-day workshop is for you – even if you’ve never painted before.

Nicholas simplifies the painting process by using a limited palette of four colours plus white, and a single brush. You will complete two paintings in the five days, starting with the human figure (reference photos provided), then progressing to a portrait of a family member or friend.

You will learn new skills and how to develop them: how to mix colours on the canvas, how to block the image in, and how to create subtle colour shifts. These skill are useful for all subject matters, including landscapes as well as figurative work. Throughout the week, Nicholas will demonstrate his techniques, and will work individually with each student so they can see the techniques in action.

For examples of a portrait painted by a first-time art student, go to

Supplies list

Download the supplies list for the workshop.

About the artist

“I am a representational artist with a loose, relaxed style that owes much to my love of Degas, who said that paintings require “a little mystery.” To achieve that mystery, I use a 1 1/2-inch house painters brush for everything but my signature.”

“My dad was an artist. He gave me my first set of oil paints when I was 13, and encouraged me to go to art college in Calgary. I went on to become illustrations editor for The Calgary Herald, where I specialized in portraiture.”

“I left The Herald to move on to a sailboat on Vancouver Island, and to make an even bigger transition - from illustration to fine art painting. After experimenting with photorealism in watercolour, I gravitated to acrylics on canvas, developing a more relaxed representational style inspired by the Impressionists. Today I use a limited palette of four colours plus white.”

“Figurative work has always been my passion. Recently, I’ve begun focusing again on portraiture, both in my own work and in my classes.”

“Many people believe that a portrait is the most challenging subject an artist can attempt. I disagree. I believe the real difference between a portrait and a landscape is that a tree won’t say, “It doesn’t look like me.” What makes a portrait difficult is the fear of others’ opinions.”

“Painting is as much a mental exercise as it is a skill. How we think about painting a portrait will determine the level of struggle we experience.”

On the web

Visit the artist’s website at:


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