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Joshua LaRock

Portrait Painting

Capturing a likeness is among the most elusive yet emotionally satisfying of artistic endeavors and a good drawing is undoubtedly the most critical component in achieving a good result.  In this 4 day workshop Joshua will walk students through the steps necessary to create a luminous, indirect portrait painting from life, beginning with a drawing in graphite and white chalk.

From Joshua:

My demonstration and critiques will center around the principles of form and how to understand and achieve the illusion of three-dimensions.  By better understanding the importance of form the student will gain new insight into values, structure, expression and indeed, color.

Each morning session will begin with a thorough portrait demonstration from the model including a dialogue of all key concepts, while the afternoon will focus on personal critiques as you create your own painting.  We will progress each day, working on the same pose, through a clear method which you will be able to easily apply to your own work.  The first day will begin with the block-in, or line drawing, including a discussion of both two and three dimensional conception and problem-solving strategies.  With a solid start, we will move on to an in-depth investigation of the portrait's forms and large value relationship, as well as the practical and conceptual techniques of modeling which can often be counter-intuitive.  The drawing will be transferred to canvas.

On the second day we will begin the first of three layers of paint, one each day.  I will be teaching the the indirect approach to oil painting which is distinct from the alla-prima, or wet-in-wet, method in that it is done in layers and can therefore achieve wonderful and subtle effects by the use of semi-transparent veils of paint.  The first layer consists of a thin neutralized underpainting to establish large value relationships. The second is a slightly thicker layer where the form is built up and more color context is added. And finally, a refining pass with a discussion of glazing and scumbling will be applied the third day.

  • Day 1: Block-in drawing – lighting, 2 dimensional vs 3 dimensional concepts.  Render drawing in graphite focusing on form and structure. Transfer to canvas.

  • Day 2: Underpainting – discuss various methods, intro to color space – hue/value/chroma

  • Day 3: Building up form – lighter lights, darker darks, with more color context. Anticipate final layer.

  • Day 4: Finishing - Polishing and refining by glazing and scumbling; consider edges.


Joshua LaRock is internationally recognized as a preeminent figurative artist. His exquisite paintings are an ode to the past filtered through a contemporary life. LaRock’s portraits and figurative pieces alike are memorable for both their emotive quality and for evoking an eerily present feeling. Inspired by Bouguereau and other masters of the past, Joshua imbues a shade of the timeless, drawing the viewer deeper into his personal interpretation of how the world ought to be.

Among Joshua’s most striking works are those of his wife, Laura. In 2012, “Portrait of the Artist’s Wife” was hailed as ‘deserving special attention’ during the historic America China Oil Painting Artists League exhibit at the Beijing World Art Museum. While “Laura in Black” was part of the prestigious BP Portrait Award 2016 exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, London and is the subject of his premier instructional video “The Layers of Portrait Painting”.

LaRock is represented by Collins Galleries, Cape Cod; Portraits, Inc.; Maxwell Alexander Gallery, LA; Stephen Ling, Beijing. He has participated in exhibitions throughout the US, Europe and China, is recognized as an Art Renewal Center Living Master, and is much sought after as a workshop instructor.  Joshua currently lives in Austin with his wife and two children.


Note: Students will only need drawing materials for the first day of class. These materials are only recommendations based on what I use - whatever materials you already have and are most familiar with will most likely be suitable for our purposes.  Please ask if there are questions prior to purchasing.

Drawing Materials

●    Drawing paper (currently I use a toned Stonehenge paper - Fawn/Cream/Natural/Grey color)

●    Several drawing pencils in range of softness 4H, 2H, H, B (I use Tombow brand)

●    White Chalk (I use General’s Primo Euro White charcoal)

●   Kneadable eraser

●    MONO Zero Eraser, Silver Round

●    Large knitting needle, paint brush or equivalent instrument for comparative measuring

●    Drawing board with clips and artist tape

●    Small handheld Mirror (optional)

●    Transferring Materials

Atelier Dojo Workshop Policies

  • Upon request, a deposit of 50% can reserve your spot. Remaining balance will be due 45 days prior to event.

  • No refunds can be issued within 45 days of workshop date, unless canceled by Atelier Dojo.

Earlier Event: March 6
Rose Frantzen
Later Event: August 7
Hollis Dunlap