Portrait painting from a photograph

Painting Explorations: Portraits ONLINE

In this online course we will use direct observation to build your portraiture skills, as well as be inspired by portraits in the AGO Collection. We’ll explore painting elements such as gesture, composition and colour and experiment with a range of acrylic painting techniques to develop an awareness of line, volume, form to create your own portrait paintings.

Students to supply their own materials. Alternative and/or additional materials may be discussed on class 1 with instructor. To get the most from this course, we suggest you take Introduction to Painting first.


- Pencil and scrap paper (any kind will do)

- Acrylic paint, approximately 120 ml or similar: any brand, 120 ml tubes or similar

- Ultramarine blue

- Yellow

- Red

- Burnt or raw umber

- Titanium white   

- Acrylic Medium Matte or Gloss (not gel): Curry’s house brand or Liquitex are good,  8 oz. or 16  oz. For example: https://store.abovegroundartsupplies.com/products/liquitex-matte-medium-4oz-49877.html

- Paint brushes for acrylic paint. Filberts (shape) made of hog hair or synthetic interlocking fibres. Brushes should be stiff enough to be able to handle heavier paint. Small (number 2 or 3 = 5 mm), Medium (number 4 or 5 = 1 cm), and Large (number 10 = 2.5 cm).

- Surfaces and primer. One surface needed per day (4 in total): Gessoed paper or gessoed canvas, or stretched and gessoed canvas. The painting surfaces can be between about 9” x 12” and 18” x 24”. You could also get a gessoed canvas paper pad as an alternative. For example: https://store.abovegroundartsupplies.com/products/canson-canva-paper-foundation-series-16x20-10sh-95749.html

- Gesso is a white primer; 16 oz/ 500 ml is a good size to get if you choose to gesso your own surfaces, which is a way to paint over work and reuse the same surface. You could get a yard of gessoed canvas and cut it into pieces. For example: https://store.abovegroundartsupplies.com/products/liquitex-artist-acrylic-gesso-4oz-19585.html

- Palette (plastic plates or a piece of aluminum foil or wax paper work fine, too)

- Cloth rag or paper towel

- Water container

- A fitting place to work, table or easel as you like and a smock or apron of sorts, maybe something to catch spills or splashes.

Terms and Conditions of Participation in Online Courses.

Participants must be 18 or older. Spots are limited.

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Thursdays, - | 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm (4 weeks)



Art Education Policies


Please read the following policies when you prepare your registration to AGO Education courses and camps.

  • Registration is on a first-come-first-served basis and is limited to space restrictions.
  • Advance registration is recommended for all programs.
  • Registration is confirmed only upon receipt of payment.
  • All registration is subject to availability.
  • All programs, prices and instructors are subject to change without notice.
  • The AGO has the right to remove students from classes. (remove if they are disruptive).

Withdrawals and Refunds


  • Refunds are available in full 5 days before the start of the first class, minus a $15 administration fee.
  • For all courses a withdrawal is allowed before the start of the second class, minus a $50 administration fee.
  • Withdrawals after the start of the second class are non-refundable.
  • One day workshops are non-refundable. 
  • Absence does not constitute a withdrawal.
  • Courses are not transferable.
  • Withdrawal requests must be done by email through the Contact Centre at contactus@ago.ca.

Cancellation of Classes

  • To ensure that we are able to run your preferred classes, we recommend that you enroll at least two weeks prior to the commencement of the program.
  • In the event of course cancellation, registrants will be notified 3 days prior to the scheduled commencement of the course and a full refund will be given.


The AGO is committed to providing a welcoming and accessible destination and workplace. We embrace the principles of dignity, independence, integration and equal opportunity to serve our visitors, staff and volunteers, and our community at large.

Read about our Commitment to Accessibility, our Customer Service Policies for visitors with disabilities, and our Multi-Year Accessibility Plan.

Please let us know how we may assist you.


In consideration of those in the Gallery School who may have allergies and chemical sensitivities, please refrain from wearing cologne, perfume or other scented products.

Photography, Motion Picture, and Video Consent

Your registration ticket constitutes acknowledgement of willingness to appear in promotional photographs, motion pictures and videos taken in public areas of the Gallery and releases the Art Gallery of Ontario from liability resulting from use of such photographs, motion pictures or videos


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