• Registration Open – Limited to 12
  • Instructor:  Alyssa Monks
  • Dates:  November 5-8
  • Materials:  Emailed One Month Prior
  • Cost – $1399
  • Payment Plan Available Upon Request

Out of stock




Join Alyssa Monks in this four-day workshop, where students will learn how to create a painting from a photo reference.  This workshop is designed to guide the students toward creating a painting from a photo reference, using both indirect and direct traditional painting techniques. It aims to instruct painters on how to use the photograph to create a painting that surpasses the look of the photograph, not simply imitates a photograph.


The workshop will explain how to create a useful photo reference, covering topics such as ideal lighting, camera settings, lenses, Photoshop, and printing. The process will begin with preparations such as choosing a composition through quick sketches from a variety of reference photos, progressive oil sketches with limited use of the photograph, and then laying in the composition with an imprimatura wash. When that is dry, the students will learn to create color relationships that portray the space and volume, creating the illusion. Emphasis is then placed on paint application and ways of activating the surface. By focusing on deliberate brush stroke and maintaining accurate color relationships rather than rendering, the application of paint to describes the form. We will accentuate the structural volumes of the form over the contour, concentrating on relating all parts of the picture to each other with an organized palette. From there, students will be guided towards deciding what information is useful to look for and what usual pitfalls to avoid when interpreting a photograph. Deciding when and how to invent and experiment is perhaps the most crucial part of the process.


Students will be encouraged to look more at the painting itself than the photographic source, using it only for initial reference. We will explore ways of seeing the picture objectively, how to imply detail without overstating, and what level of finish works best for the particular painting or style. The painting will develop through indirect layers of opaque and transparent painting to achieve the delicate nuances of flesh and other surfaces. Methods of Glazing and Scumbling will be discussed. The final result can be a painting that captures the essence of your subject (and your connection with that subject) and contains the intimacy of the human touch that transcends a smooth photo-realistic image. There are a variety of results varying from abstraction/improvisation to a more illusionistic representation. All will be discussed and the challenges and rewards of each will be explored.

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Workshop Schedule:


Thursday, Day 1:

  • 10:00 – 5:00 - Workshop  
    • Why this workshop/Objective of the workshop/Methods and plan
    • What makes a good photo reference and how to create one in more detail and go over examples.
    • Students will pick from a supply that is provided for subjects that interest them and are also good references to work from.
    • Initial thumbnail drawings of the image and decide how to crop or recompose the subject.
    • Imprematura demonstration to extrapolate and celebrate the essence of the image and compose the painting, explanation of measuring techniques for accuracy.
    • Hone composition with as much detail as desired as they firm up their compositions. Complete 2 studies and 1 larger imprematura as well as the sketches.


Friday, Day 2:

  • 10:00 – 5 - Workshop
    • Color progression/color relationships discussion
    • Color mixing, (matching) and palette preparation, understanding color progression
    • Discussion and demonstration on application, edges, brushstroke, thick or thin paint, etc.
    • How to see volume instead of silhouettes and paint form, various techniques discussed
    • Editing detail in photograph


Saturday, Day 3:

  • 10:00 – 5 - Workshop
    • Initial application covering entire surface, taking care of color relationships and exploring new application techniques, to create initial illusion based on color in photograph
    • Discussion on responding to the painting vs. the photograph.
    • Experimentation and exploration: not following the photograph perfectly or literally. Making intentional strokes and informed decisions. When and how to experiment and why it’s essential to the painting process.
    • What is the useful information to look for in the photograph? Anatomical clues, volumes, structure, drawing issues solved by avoiding the silhouette and looking at the internal structure and volumes as opposed to the outline
      Pitfalls to avoid when reading the photograph


Sunday, Day 4:

  • 10:00 – 5 - Workshop
    • Lecture on responding to the painting vs. the photograph.
    • Discussion of desired results varying from abstraction/improvisation to a more realistic illusion
    • What is the essence of your subject that must be conveyed with the intimacy of the human touch beyond the photo-realistic image?
    • How to finish, what is finished, you are the first audience.



  • Students must have some, even if limited, experience of using oil paint. They must know the basics of working with and cleaning up their materials. This is not an introduction to painting course and students who have not yet worked with oil should seek another course.
  • Students must work in oil paint exclusively in this workshop. Acrylic, Alkyd, Fast-matte, water colors, colored pencils, digital painting programs, and encaustic all are not permitted as substitutes.
  • Upon registering, students must submit 5 (five) jpegs of their OIL paintings only no more than 1000K in size and titled as follows: LastName_TitleOfWork_medium_size.jpg. These jpegs will be collected by Kara and shared with Alyssa to prepare accordingly for the level of skill and experience.

***Students will be provided with a 30 page, color PDF by Alyssa Monks.  Students will get to keep the PDF.

***Coffee, water, and snacks provided.

**Space is limited to 12 students so Alyssa can give extra one-on-one time to each individual.

Registration is Open!  Limited to 12 Students!

November 5-8, 2020

Payment Plan Available Upon Request

Workshop Policies: Due to limited class size, payment is non-refundableYou are able to transfer this workshop to another person or if there is a waitlist we will connect you with the next person on the list. If you are unable to attend the workshop, and the workshop has not sold out with a wait list, we will not be able to refund your purchase.

Cancellations: If the event does not reach the minimum number of participants, workshop may be cancelled. In the very rare event of an emergency or unavoidable natural disaster or act of God, the class may be cancelled. If this is to happen, all purchased workshops will be reimbursed to students in full.  


Contact Questions?  Email us at  We will respond within 24 hours.


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