Painting portraits in watercolour


‘Ben Haslam ‘ Watercolour on Bristol board 1993 – Jason Skill

Subject – Portaits in watercolour.

Length of the course10 weeks

Location – Newcastle Arts Centre

Starts  10th January 2018

Cost –  £136 [ includes tea and cofee provided by the Jazz cafe ] 


Level  – suited to those who have some experience of watercolour painting . Not recommended for total beginners

Time –  Wednesdays  from 10:00 till 12:00  

Dates to attend:

10th , 17th, 24th, 31st January 2018

7th, 21st, 28th February 2017

Please note:  no class at half term,  the 14th of February 2018

7th, 14th, and 21st of March

‘Self portrait aged 19’ – Watercolour – Jason Skill

Why does Jason think  this course would be of value to you as a watercolour painter ?

As you can see from this early self portrait I have always enjoyed painting portraits with watercolour. It’s a medium that is not traditonally associated with portraiture, but is actually well suited to capturing facial expressions, rendering details and gaining a likeness. When I have run watercolour portrait courses in the past, the resulting paintings from the students have often exceeded their expectations. I put this largely down to gaining an understanding of how to layer the paint so that it appears more three dimensional using predominately wet in wet blending, as opposed to chasing a photographic smooth likeness that can look flat and bland.

Watercolour portraiture is generally painted either on watercolour paper or illustration board,  known as Bristol paper.  The Bristol board’s slippy hard surface potentially allows for more alterations to take place, to tune the image. It can also promote a loose dribbly style as seen in my portait of Ben Haslam painted in 1993 at the top of this page.The traditional watercolour paper allows for more controlled use of wet in wet and dry brush techniques. Both surfaces will be exlored during this course.

We will also look at a number of approaches to watercolour used by other artists, talking through their approaches and, if learners are interested, copying their style.




Copy of one of Singer Sargent’s watercolours created as a demonstration in one of Jason’s previous watercolour portrait painting courses.




So, if you have ever thought of trying portraiture with watercolour, then this is the course that will help you approach painting faces with increased knowledge and confidence.

The location

Newcastle Arts Centre offers you some of the best art studio facilities in the North East region. It also has on site an art shop, a craft shop, an art gallery, a framer and The Jazz Café to relax in and grab a coffee and bite to eat after class.

The studios are situated on the 2nd floor with lift access provided for those who have mobility issues.  The building housing the studios is accessed though the courtyard entrance. The entrance is situated below the yellow building to the right of Newcastle Arts Centre’s frontage seen  in the photograph below.

How would you get there ?

By train  – The arts centre is a short walk from the central station  – see map below

By metro – There is a metro entrance at the bottom of the street – see map below

By Bus – Bus stops are marked on the map below

By Car – Parking outside the arts centre is limited to an hour’s stay. Long term parking can be found at the locations marked on the map below. Click the map to enlarge or move  location. Please note the O2 Academy is opposite the arts centre.

What will you do on the course?

Jason will show you how to measure a face from a photograph to gain an accurate likeness. He will also explain how to scale up an image should you wish to work to paint your image larger than the reference material. To learn how to break the face down into the key shapes needed to capture a likeness, Jason will take you through some tonal painting exercises. Once familiar with the principles of building up tones, he will show you how to mix a range of skin colours and show you how to paint a face in layers using both wet on wet and wet on dry methods.

When learners have become familiar with the basic principles of portrait painting with watercolour, on watercolour paper, Jason will show you how to work on Bristol board and discuss the work of past and present masters – watercolour painters of portraits.


What will you need to bring?

Your watercolour painting kit including: drawing paper,  palette, water pots, paints, brushes, masking tape, kitchen roll and a pencil and pen.

Jason will advise you each week about the materials you will need for the following session. Anyone  unable to attend a lesson should contact him by email and he will advise them on the papers needed for the following class.

Email contact

Jason has some portrait images to work from, but you may wish to work from your own reference.

How can you book a place on the course ?

Course cost – £136

By clicking on the BUY NOW  button below and following the payment procedures you will book your place on the course.

Why not buy this workshop as a gift for friends and family ?


If you are unable to purchase the course online then please send a cheque for £136, made payable to:   Painting with Skill LTD

to…    Jason Skill, Sikehead, Woodside Lane, Ryton, Tyne and Wear NE403ND

Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis. To avoid disappointment –  book early.


Painting With Skill Limited, Company No. 5763767, a company registered in England and Wales.Registered address: Sikehead, Woodside Lane, Ryton, Tyne and Wear, NE40 3ND