First of all, I am thrilled that it happened! My first ever portrait painting workshop, after a long time talking about it and planning and figuring out! I had a blast, and it went even better than I expected. My students were amazing!
On day 1, I introduced the classical rules of facial proportions and a couple of methods of constructing the head. We spent most of the day working on a drawing of "Jacques" (planes of the head :)). Apparently, this was pretty excruciating...As someone who spent months, if not years of their life drawing plaster casts, I can relate :)
I thought it was very important, though, to give my students the opportunity to study a three-dimensional model of a face before turning to their own photo references. I also encouraged them to draw from life, from real people as much as possible. It is my opinion that you can learn to copy photographs fairly quickly, and it is a shortcut to producing paintings. However, it is a shortcut at the expense of your understanding of the structure of human head. As a matter of fact, I think that not only about portraits but any other subject...If you are after a convincing traditional representation of anything, you should spend time observing it, and drawing and painting from life is the best kind of observation.
Unfortunately, there was not enough time in the two days to work from a live model. I am considering either expanding the workshop into another day or two or creating an advanced level workshop.
On day 2, we painted from photos, which we analyzed and discussed at the end of day 1 (each student brought their own photo references) and which we used to create grid method drawings at home. I was curious to see if it would be possible for a student to leave my workshop with a finished painting. And it is! I was very proud with the results and I think having a painting of their own at the end of the workshop gives everyone a sense of accomplishment.
Quite a lot of the workshop consisted of one-on-one coaching - which, I think, is where most of the value of the workshop was - I would love to have a mentor myself. It helped to have a small number of participants. A large group would make the individual attention pretty much impossible.
My next workshop is scheduled for September 21-22. Read more about it and register here.