(22 customer reviews)



  • Class is Open
  • Instructor – Robert Kelley
  • Self-study
  • 8 Lessons/7+ Hours of Instruction
  • Lifetime Access/Downloadable Content
  • Private Facebook Group
  • Course Price – $149


Gift this online course or workshop to a friend. All online courses are downloadable, and we offer lifetime access. Please be aware that the gift card you are purchasing will be for the amount listed above. If you purchase this gift card while the course is on sale, the card will be worth the amount you paid on the date of purchase. Be sure to let the recipient know that if the gift card is used after the sale ends, recipient will be responsible for paying the difference of the course price. Send a gift card for this course




In this academic course, master charcoal artist, Robert Kelley, will take you on a step-by-step journey of his process of creating beautiful, charcoal portraits.  Robert will begin by sharing with his students the basic fundamentals that all artists must understand in order to create a portrait.  This course is for all levels, beginning to advanced, and will cover topics such as drafting, anatomy, values, relationships, measurement, perspective, mechanics, design, techniques, and so much more!  If you are a beginning artist, ready to learn to draw portraits for the very first time, or if you are an advanced portrait artist, ready to push the limits, this course is for you!  It doesn't matter where you are on this journey, this class is for everyone!




By the end of this course students will have an understanding of the following concepts:

  • basic fundamentals to drawing a portrait in any angle
  • understand how to draw the features of the face in any angle
  • how to use lines as guides when drawing a portrait
  • how understanding the anatomy of any object can be a guide in any drawing
  • use measurement and referencing  to guide relationships
  • placement of features
  • foreshortening
  • creating a composition/design that works
  • using different materials and substrates in your work
  • using different tools to create various effects in your artwork



In this academic class, students will receive both short, and full-length lessons, on a variety of information.  Lessons will cover the basic fundamentals that must be understood prior to creating a well-rendered portrait, demonstrations on composition and design, lecture on relationships, perspective, mechanics, and so much more!  By the end of this course, all students will have an understanding of what it takes to move forward in the art of charcoal portraits, and will be able to take his/her own art to the next level!




In the first two lessons, Robert will begin by walking you through the materials that he uses.  He will then jump into discussing the basic fundamentals of portraiture.  Every object has an anatomy!  Understanding an object's anatomy will help to understand the object and to draw it, whether it be a watch, a chair, or a portrait.  Lastly, Robert will teach about the axis and the importance of using it in portrait work.


Lesson 3 will focus more on the anatomy of the features on the face.  Robert will isolate the features and spend some time discussing the basic construction of each feature, and tips/skills that the artist can use to render out an eye, mouth, nose, and ear.  Robert will also show how to draw the features at different angles.



As you move into lesson 4, Robert will share how you can take the basic fundamentals and create some study drawings.   Much of his own time is devoted to studies, rather than completed portraits.  This is the time to experiment and explore with what works and what doesn't.  He will remind you to use shape and line to create study sketches.  You will learn how to build up layers of charcoal using only willow charcoal.


Lesson 5 will then take things one step further.  Robert will choose a study that he feels most drawn to and show the viewer how to take it to the next level.  He will demonstrate how to add more layers, and begin thinking about design.  He will question what can be left out to create interest.  The focus will be on values and creating depth.


Finally in lesson 6, Robert will share his knowledge on composition and design.  In this lesson we will learn to be conscious of the design factor in your work.  We will discuss how to work out design and composition prior to completing a piece.  Lastly,  you will begin to think about your own finished work.



The final two lessons will be two full, final portrait lessons.  The first lesson will be on completed on newsprint and will be completed with willow charcoal and various tools.  The second lesson will be completed on Strathmore drawing paper and will be completed using willow, compressed, and various tools.  This is your time to put all that you have learned in this course onto paper.





Lifetime Access - Download All Content

Prerecorded - Work at Your Own Pace

Cost - $149


Robert Kelley Headshot

I am Rob Kelley and I am a fine artist/illustrator with a focus on portraiture! I live in Stockton, California, and am a single dad to three children. I studied graphic design at UC Davis and then went on to study illustration at Academy of Art in San Francisco. Although I have had an extensive education in art, I abandoned art for most of my adult life.   That changed, 4 years ago, when my life hit a dramatic shift. At this time, I began looking at why I was in a constant state of low-level unhappiness and discovered that I had abandoned my true and authentic self. I knew that the one thing I needed that had been missing was art! Since then, I have adopted a sink or swim mentality!



This course will have a private Facebook group just for you!  I will be actively involved with the class via Facebook during the four weeks that the course is open!  I am really excited about working through these exercises with each of you!


Below is a list of the supplies that I will be using for the projects in this course.  However, you are always encouraged to use what you have on hand. 



**Upon purchasing your course, you will be asked to create an account and go through the purchase process (even if the cost is $0 for a free course).  If you have already created an account, after purchase your course will IMMEDIATELY be available under “LOGIN” at the top right-hand of

**If your course does not show up, please email us at

**Due to the nature of the immediate availability of the course, all purchases are nonrefundable.

**Please talk to the artist of the course about his/her policy on selling artwork created in this course prior to selling any works created during course.  Some artists will allow it, while others do not.  Thank you for your support.

22 reviews for CHARCOAL PORTRAITS 101

  1. Linda Habros

    I was foreign to charcoal prior to taking Robert’s class. I actually thought that I disliked the medium until…Robert! He has such a wonderful, non-judgemental approach to teaching, and he covers everything, starting from the basics, ensuring that you are building a strong foundation. Long story short…I fell in love with charcoal. So much so that I travelled from Ontario, Canada to Kara’s studio in Southern California in August to take Robert’s in-studio class after taking the online class. Charcoal is now the primary medium that I work in. If I could, I would take every single course offerred by Robert. Jump in with both feet, enjoy the class and Robert’s easygoing banter.

  2. gigamarie (verified owner)

    It’s a very interesting course. I learned to let go. The results with charcoal are magical and Robert Kelley is a very good teacher. I love his works.

  3. Louise Thorpe

    I think this course is a brilliant foundation for the medium of charcoal. Robert ‘s lessons have shown me a completely different way to use charcoal which is so effective. I think this is a course I will keep returning to.

  4. Roswitha de Luarca (verified owner)

    For anyone who loves charcoal, this class is a must. Robert Kelley gives first a very deep, professional explanation about materials and the technique itself. Then the exercises are given in a progressional way, so that they are easier to follow, ending with a wrap up exercise in which all the steps are involved. One of the best charcoal courses ever to loosen up and get much more confident with your marks. You’ll love it

  5. LinMujaj (verified owner)

    If you want to improve your charcoal portraits I recommend you take this course. I was blown away by the depth of improvement I achieved and the beautiful work others in the Facebook group were producing.

  6. Libbi Corson (verified owner)

    I can not say enough about this course! I loved charcoal before I took this class and Robert did not disappoint. His style of teaching was perfect for me. I learned to let shadows and light carve out the face vs using any hard edges or lines. He introduced me to a new way of seeing and I will be forever grateful. My portraits (in all mediums) have risen to another level because of this class. It will be my main charcoal reference class for a very long time.

  7. Glen Collingwood (verified owner)

    I really enjoyed doing this course with Robert Kelley..On a practical level he introduced me to new ways of manipulating the charcoal e.g.with a brush or acetone . On an artistic level he has a wonderfully loose style which results in a dreamy mysterious picture. Definitely a course worth doing.

  8. suelichter (verified owner)

    Outstanding content. Brilliant teaching . So loved everything about this class .

  9. Catherine Valenti (verified owner)

    Seriously a must! This class is a must for your artistic growth. Since taking Roberts class I can honestly say my work improved leaps and bounds. He is an amazing teacher that shares so much of his knowledge without any hesitation. So grateful I took this class!

  10. silkartisan (verified owner)

    I really had no experience with charcoal when I took this course and I wasn’t sure I would like it because I thought it would be too messy, however the way Robert uses the medium it was actually much less messy/dusty than I thought it would be. I also found that it was so much easier to develop realistic features with the charcoal because it is so forgiving. Great class, lots of info. If you love creating portraits I think you will love this class!

  11. kpixiewings (verified owner)

    I am blown away by what I accidentally learned even from the first lesson. The way Robert explains things really just sneaks in and then, boom…understanding! It is easy to replicate ideas over and over, good practice for your mind and hand. But what Robert does is actually make you understand the why and then the how, something just clicked for me! I am grateful that Kara Bullock offered the opportunity to take this class, and to Robert Kelley for teaching it!

  12. Renee Mueller (verified owner)

    This class is outstanding! Robert is a very generous teacher who enthusiastically shares his beautiful techniques. I love charcoal and found new and interesting ways to work with this beautiful medium. This class is for anyone, at any level, who is interested in creating beautiful charcoal portraits. It is a class that you can reference time and again.

  13. JMelanson (verified owner)

    Oh my goodness, I love this class. I hadn’t picked up a piece of charcoal in about 40 years but I did a lot of charcoal drawing back in the day. Once I picked up the charcoal to participate in this class, it was like coming home. My art is a little shaky and out of practice for the moment, but I can see it coming back. I respect Robert Kelley and his abilities, of course. His portraits are so beautiful and open my eyes to a new way of doing portraits. Thank you, Robert and Kara, too, for hosting this class. I appreciate you both. Peace

  14. Bellarena67 (verified owner)

    This class is hands down one of the Best classes I have taken online(and I have taken a lot of online courses). I have always been turned off by charcoal because it is messy and I did not have a lot of practice with it. When Kara had her sale I decided to give charcoal another try. I am so happy that I did. Robert Kelley combines his knowledge of charcoal with his modern style as he gently instructs you to accurately depict the face. His process encourages exploring your subject realistically while still allowing you to be spontaneous and play with the medium. I have to tell you that I walked away feeling completely different about the use of charcoal. It has actually become a new favorite because of the work I created following Robert Kelley’s process. I highly recommend this course to anyone at any level wanting to learn how to render in charcoal. Thank you to Kara for bringing such great talent to work along side you on your network!!!

  15. Vanderlei Hessmann (verified owner)

    Hello everybody!

    If you really like coal art and want to take a few more steps forward, this course changes everything. Fantastic staff, Kara Bullock and Robert Kelley. Robert gives first a very deep, professional explanation about materials and the technique itself. Then the exercises are given in a progressional way, so that they are easier to follow, ending with a wrap up exercise in which all the steps are involved. One of the best charcoal courses today, and fully online format to follow from any part of the globe.
    There is also the constant presence of Kara and Robert interacting in the spaces of debate, drawing doubts and detailing the most relevant topics questioned by the group. Thank you, Robert and Kara for the project! I loved the project and I really want to follow the sequence that opens now in May 2019.

    Greetings to all!

  16. stephieanne20 (verified owner)

    I spent a long time searching for a class to learn new techniques in charcoal and have found it. Came across Robert’s work from a friend who is also a student. He works in a way I like and use in my own teaching, explaining his thoughts and process as he goes. He shares everything, something that is missing a lot from other classes. Absolutely thrilled with this class and have a renews passion for drawing thanks to Robert. Would highly recommend this to anyone.

  17. Joanne Willoughby (verified owner)

    A wonderful course by a fantastic teacher. Great for beginning charcoal artists or anyone who wants to learn basic charcoal portraits. It’s exciting to see what emerges after a few classes. Fun.

  18. Daniel (verified owner)

    Awesome, awesome course!
    I abandoned charcoal many years ago, that God I decided to get back into it and with this course I understand the craft better than ever!

  19. deannawisman (verified owner)

    I’ve really enjoyed his techniques and have been able to carry them over into other types of drawing and painting. I highly recommend this fun and informative course.

  20. Paul Damon (verified owner)

    Robert’s method – letting the features emerge from shapes of value, is brilliant. In his course I found exactly what I was looking for: a method that didn’t rely on arcane measurement systems or guesswork that results in facial features similar to Mr. Potatohead, and instead found a sensible approach that lies in seeing, really seeing, the face you are drawing and putting down patterns of low and high value, from which the face is massaged into shape, slowly and gradually. Thank you, Robert, from all of us visual people.

  21. Monica (verified owner)

    I took this amazing class last month and I loved it!!! I learnt sooooo much, he is such a good teacher and boy what an artist he is very gifted.
    I registered for his figure class as well and I’m looking forward to keep learning from him!

  22. Marco (verified owner)

    Still in the middle of the lessons but very happy with the way Robert shows how to do it.

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