Painting people, learning portraiture 2

A weekend with June Mendoza

I was fortunate enough to spend last weekend on a portraiture course led by June Mendoza, one of the world’s foremost portrait painters.  In addition to her own work (which speaks for itself) and the prodigious list of previous subjects, she was also a council member of the Royal Society of Portrait painters.  You can see more at She has a determined personality and works fast, cramming as much as possible into the time, and her life.

Over 2 days, I did 3 basic paintings/sketches and took away several things.  I usually paint in layers where the main part of the brush work goes on to a dry layer.  This allows for more dramatic interlocking marks, without picking up colour or spread form the layers below.  Working fat over lean on wet paint was not so clear, I want to work on, being more economical in brush stroke and thicker with the paint.  It was helpful to start with the main colour shapes and big tonal shifts, focusing on the abstract construction of the picture and facilitating adjustment at an early stage. I want to try her approach of not just representing the form that you see, but work with the form that you know is there.  Small tonal representation can add to the sense of presence in the picture.

HeatherlyPatrick Earle