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Portraits in Oil

Portraits in Oil

SKU: 2026 Summer Pietsch Portraits

Portraits in Oil

Intermediate - 🖌️🖌️

Instructor:  Paul Pietsch

Monday, 6:30-9:30pm, July 29 - August 26

5 weeks, In-person / 3A



Designed for students with previous painting experience, this five-week course will explore portrait painting as a responsive act of perception, prioritizing expression over mimesis. Working from figure models, students will paint five portraits in five weeks, focusing on big shapes, color relationships, decisive brushstrokes and quieting the impulse for perfection. Students will learn through guided instruction, self-exploration, and individual and group critiques. A limited palette is sufficient, but students may use additional colors as they wish.


Materials List - Please bring these materials with you.

(click here for a downloadable supply list with suggested purchase options


Painting Surfaces

  • 5 painting surfaces (between 9"x12" and 16"x20")—can be any of the following types of painting surfaces:

    • canvas pad (white, sized 16”x20”) AND painter's tape AND a drawing board or piece of Masonite on which to tape down pieces of canvas from the pad

    • canvas boards (primed/gessoed) 

    • pre-stretched canvas (primed/gessoed)

    • wood panel (primed/gessoed)



  • One flat palette 11”x14” or larger in size. Students may use a wood, paper, or glass palette. (Do not buy a plastic palette or a palette segmented into multiple smaller palettes.)



Students using oil paint may use hog bristle or synthetic nylon brushes.

Students using acrylic should use synthetic nylon brushes.


Students may use a range of brushes, but should at minimum have the following brushes:

  • 1 bright brush, size #8 or #10

  • 1 flat brush, size #10

  • 1 round brush, size #6

  • 1 filbert brush, size #6, #8 or #10



In this short, five-week course, students will work from a limited palette designed to be cost-effective and focused on fundamental value and color relationships. 


Students should buy at least one tube (37ml or 40ml) of each color, but may use additional colors if they wish:

  • Ivory Black 

  • Titanium White

  • Yellow Ochre

  • Cadmium Red Light  

  • Alizarin Crimson

  • French Ultramarine Blue

  • Hansa Yellow Light or Cadmium Lemon


NOTE: If buying oil paint, it is ok to get “hue” versions of the colors—these have less pigment and are cheaper. However, don’t get “water-mixable” oil paint as it won’t mix with normal oil paint.


Oil vs. Acrylic?

Students may work in oil or acrylic paint, though the assumed default medium for the class is oil paint. Here are some factors to consider when determining which medium to use:


  • Acrylic paint dries considerably faster than oil paint, making it difficult to work “wet-into-wet”.

  • By volume acrylic paint is cheaper than oil paint, BUT students using acrylic paint may need to use more of it to achieve the same results of oil paint. This is because acrylic paint loses volume as it dries and is less opaque than oil paint, meaning that more layers of acrylic paint may be necessary to achieve in a painting the same effects of oil paint. 

  • Acrylic paint has a lower “pigment load,” which means that it will seem somewhat paler, lighter, and more transparent than oil paint.

  • Acrylic paint does not require the use of any odorless mineral spirits and can be cleaned with soap and water, BUT acrylic paint once dry on a brush is much harder to remove than oil paint.  


Solvent and Related Supplies

  • For oil paint

    • Gamblin's Gamsol Oderless Mineral Spirits (no turpentine or other mineral spirits allowed due to hazardous fumes) 

    • Two containers 1 pint or larger with secure lids for the Gamsol (for example, glass jars, plastic containers sold at the art store, empty paint cans old at hardware store)

    • Small bottle of oil painting medium (made by Utrecht, Winsor & Newton or Sennelier)

    • Palette cup for painting medium

  • For acrylic (water is the solvent)

    • 2 containers 1 pint or larger for water (yogurt containers work well)



  • 1 palette knife (2.5” or longer; can be any shape)

  • Bar soap or dish detergent for washing brushes (bring your own)

  • A bag or other container for transporting supplies

  • 1 roll of paper towels (WSS does not supply paper towels for classroom use)

  • 1 pencil (HB or #2)

Optional Supplies

  • Apron/smock 

  • Nitrile/latex/vinyl gloves 

  • Notebook (any size)

Please find our full refund policy linked here.


If you are unsure if a class is right for you, please read our Pathway To Sucess: A Guide or have a conversation with a Faculty member or our Head of Faculty before the first week of the 10-week term ends. Once the second week of classes starts, no refunds will be offered.


For Workshops, Artist Demos, and Short Classes (classes less than 10 weeks in duration) - only withdrawals more than 14 days before the first day of class – 100% tuition refund*


A $25 administrative fee is applied to all refunds.


*If we can fill your spot, we will fully refund your tuition, less the administrative fee.

Class is Full
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