WORKSHOP: “Light, Color & the Portrait” by Christine Swann PSA, IAPS-EP

April 22, 2023 April 23, 2023

Develop a single portrait over the two days using a 5-layer process. Along the way there will be many “academic” lessons including light.

Light, Color and the Portrait”

Zoom Workshop

with Christine Swann PSA, IAPS-EP

April 22 and 23 9:30 - 4:00pm

Hi! Thanks for signing up for my zoom workshop. I am looking forward to having you in my studio! We will be developing a single portrait over the two days with my 5-layer process. Along the way there will be many “academic” lessons on light and the structure of the head, along with lessons on pastel. I am so glad you can join me.

Below is some information on the sessions and if you have any questions, please reach out to me at

To get the most out of this Zoom session:

Make sure you know how to use Zoom. How to sign in, mute and unmute yourself, and be sure you can see my demonstration as large as possible on your computer. There will not be time during the class to teach anyone how to do those things, so be sure to watch a Zoom video on anything you don't understand regarding zoom. This will keep the class moving along and focused on the lessons.



I highly recommend Sennelier LaCarte Pastel “Card” in Sienna Brown or a mid-tone grey if you already have it. I will be working on this surface and it is the best color and grit for my process. Pastelmat or a Richeson surface in a mid-value is ok. Colorfix is ok if you have nothing else. Do NOT work on white. Do not work on Canson paper. A white or light “cream-colored” surface like Uart will NOT work for this class unless you darken it with a wash first. Contact me if you need advice on that. However, whatever surface you already have in a midtone and preferably “gritted” will be fine.

****You will also need a few scraps of pastel paper to work on for various exercises that we will be doing as we go along. Again, a mid-value and gritted is best.

****You will also need a white and a black surface to work on for various exercises on the second day. This can be just printer paper and black construction paper.


You will need pastel sticks from each “category” below. The 3/4 power category is optional. The more low-chroma colors (not bright) the better in each category. Please don't feel as though you need to buy more sticks. I am a big believer in not having to have every single brand out there. As long as you have a pretty good range of colors in at least one brand in each of the categories below you are all set. I do not categorize pastels as "hard" or "soft" and never talk about them that way since this tells us nothing about the power. More will be explained in class.

If you have questions on what you have or what you need, please reach out.


LOW POWER - all pastel pencils (no matter what brand and get as many as you can)

And then Rembrandts, Nupastels, Cretacolors or any old square Grumbachers

MEDIUM POWER - Giraults, Winsor Newton, Blue Earth, Diane Townsend, Mount Vision, Unisons, Older Richesons or any old round Grumbachers,

3/4 POWER- ( OPTIONAL) Terry Ludwigs, Newer Richesons, Schminckes, Ming Art Pastels, Pan Pastels, HIGH POWER - Senneliers, Great Americans, Roches

*You can make do with what you have. For example, if you only have Terry Ludwigs and nothing from the high power category, then use the Terry Ludwigs as your “highest power” As long as you have 3 “power levels” of pastels you will be fine. So, pencils, some Rembrandts and then one more powerful brand will be sufficient for my layering process. Adjust as you need to based on what you have.

Pastel Pencils

It will be beneficial to make sure to have pencils in the following colors because as we go along in the initial drawing it is beneficial to change colors and "reset" the drawing in newer, darker colors. The key is to get at least 4 values and color changes - from a light ochre color up to darker browns and then a black. Any brands are fine.

I will be using:

● light ochre

● several pencils of light to darker browns

● black / dark blues or greens are good too.

● A bunch of yellow pencils will be needed. If you only have one yellow pencil, just keep an Xacto blade nearby to sharpen as needed. The brands of pencils do not matter. I use different brands.

*I keep a Xacto blade nearby, but I never worry about a "perfect" point. You should not either. *****Again, get as many pastel pencils as you can. The more variety of colors the better.

Day 1 / Thirds of the Head and The LAW of Light

The first day is devoted to finding a likeness quickly and understanding light. The day will be filled with many “academic” lessons and students will draw and paint along with me. I will be chatting and painting the entire time. There will be no need for pastel sticks on the first day. It is all about structure and the complex topography of the head. This is the most important thing I can teach when tackling a portrait. By the end of the first day your drawing will look like the first picture below.

Plan to keep the drawing of your head at least 8” high - near life-size- is best.

**So 16 x 20” paper is a good size to work on. Do not use a tiny piece of paper and squish your portrait.

Day 2 / POWER of Pastel

The second day will be devoted to understanding pastel and the different brands and how they act with each other and their differences. The portrait will be completed over this day in a layering process.


I will provide photo references to use for the classes. Since I talk a lot about light, it is best if everyone is on the same page with the references.

****And if you have not seen it yet, I have a video of taking a drawing through to a simple painting. (and then I light it on fire!) It goes through the 5 stages that we will be developing during the workshop. It might be beneficial to watch that before the class. It can be found on the homepage of my website at

Oh! And I have a blog that goes up every Wednesday. I have been writing it for over 6 years now. Check it out on my site for many tips and tricks regarding pastel, art and motherhood…

And that is it! If you have questions, please reach out-

See you soon- Christine

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