Paint the portrait from life: 3 day workshop with Henry Tian

Paint the portrait from life: 3 day workshop with Henry Tian

Halifax-based figurative artist Henry Tian is finally offering a portrait painting workshop! Henry will share his knowledge on materials, observational skills, specific techniques, composition theory, and so much more on how to create a successful portrait painting in the tradition of alla prima oil painting (also known as direct painting, wet-in-wet painting). The alla prima tradition is known for its authenticity in recreating the natural human visual experience, its loose and bold brushstrokes, and its command on draftsman skills as well as colourist skills. Students will learn how to work efficiently and effectively to capture the essence of a portrait in a relatively short amount of time (2-3 hours). It will be a 3-day workshop taking place on Sunday August 25, Saturday August 31 Sunday September 1 for a total of 12 hours (see syllabus below for details).

The workshop is structured as multiple units of mini-lectures by Henry, followed by painting demos, followed by student practice. Henry will go around the group and work with each person individually during each practice. This workshop is intended for any artists who feel like they would benefit from it after reading the syllabus below, all skill levels welcome. Previous experience with drawing and painting the human is helpful but not required. A real-life model will be present to be studied and painted from life on the final day.

Syllabus, date and time

Each day contains mini-lectures, demos, and student practice times. The first day is relatively dense on theory and knowledge, and the last two days are more focused on demos and practice.

Sunday August 25: 1pm to 5pm

– Unit 1: Key skills in observing and creating shapes (proportions), values, edges, colors

– Unit 2: Principles of design and composition

– Unit 3: Essential anatomy of the human head

– Unit 4: Color mixing demystified (seriously, it’s so simple)

Saturday August 31: 1pm to 5pm

– Starting the portrait: 2 hour demo and 2 hour student practice with Henry’s guidance

– Discussion on lighting, mood, gesture, and emotion of the portrait

Sunday September 1: 1pm to 5pm

– Starting and finishing the portrait: 1 hour demo and 3 hour student practice Henry’s guidance

– Final review and discussion

Location: Henry’s studio in Clayton Park, Halifax

Cost: $350 (all materials included: easel, oil paint, brushes, vine charcoal, canvas, paper, etc.)

– A deposit of $100 is required at the time of registration. Refund is only possible for special circumstance cancellations.

There are only 4 seats available. I need at least 3 of them filled in order to make this workshop happen (if you are interested, please let your friends know about it so it’s more likely to be filled!). There will be lots of time to ask questions and get individual feedback on your work. Even after the workshop you can still send me your latest work and I will continue to support you with my insights.

Please email me at to register. Hope to see you there, thanks!

Henry Tian, figurative artist based in Halifax, NS.


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Represented by: Art 1274 Hollis Gallery

1274 Hollis St, Halifax NS B3J 1T6