Portraiture – Realism to Contemporary with Mathew Lynn Art Est Art School and Gallery

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Portraiture – Realism to Contemporary with Mathew Lynn

Portraiture – Realism to Contemporary with Mathew Lynn
$595 Limited inc GST
Portraiture – Realism to Contemporary with Mathew Lynn

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<p>Join us for an inspiring and transformative 8-week painting course with 18-time Archibald Prize finalist, Mathew Lynn. Designed to be

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Join us for an inspiring and transformative 8-week painting course with 18-time Archibald Prize finalist, Mathew Lynn. Designed to be welcoming and accessible for artists of all levels, this course offers a unique opportunity to explore portraiture from multiple perspectives.

Begin your journey with the foundational skills of realism, guided by Mathew's expert instruction. Learn how to render a portrait with life-like quality, capturing the essence of your subject in a way that transcends mere technique. As you gain confidence and proficiency, you will be encouraged to challenge yourself further.

For those feeling adventurous, Mathew will lead you on a creative exploration beyond the confines of strict realism. Discover innovative approaches and strategies to reinterpret your subjects, prioritizing the expressive potential of paint itself. Embrace the tension between achieving realistic detail and the freedom of painterly abstraction, finding your unique artistic voice in the process.

Each week, you will bring a selection of images to work from, with Mathew's guidance helping you choose and evolve your focus based on your experiences and learning from previous sessions. This dynamic course allows your artistic journey to unfold organically, ensuring a deeply personal and enriching experience.

Embark on this artistic adventure with Mathew Lynn, and unlock new dimensions in your portrait painting practice. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced artist, this course promises to challenge and inspire you, opening up new avenues of creativity and expression.

What students will achieve

Some students may wish to concentrate on traditional realism as their goal. Depending on their speed and style, they may produce one work or a series of works exploring key methods:Learning how to isolate and render in space the basic forms of a head and face with line.

  • Learning about the planes and shapes (and their ratios) that make up the jigsaw puzzle that gives the quality of ‘likeness’.
  • Learning how to combine Line and Plane in one process to find the likeness.
  • Learning how to move quickly and efficiently through this, so that you can begin to concentrate on the ‘person’, not the technique.
  • Learning about the classic portrait colour palette, when and how to use the colours.
  • Learning how to draw immediately with paint on your blank canvas, so that you remain, as much as possible, in the moment with your subject.
  • Learning about the variety of dynamics, effects and marks you need for different areas to convey flesh and realism.
  • Learning about layers and glazing.

Most importantly, learning to tune in to the qualities of your subject constantly during this process, so that they can guide your marks.

Other students may like to move through realism quite quickly and spend more time on experimenting with contemporary painting solutions. They could start with a realistic work and base all subsequent works from that work, or they may like to work on a different subject for each work.

  • Learning how to look at and ‘see’ your subject in a less representational ways.
  • Learning how to make a new hierarchy of ‘information’ and stimulus emphasising feeling.
  • Learning how to combine elements of observation and abstraction into a new kind of harmony.
  • Learning to work through studies and experiments (sometimes quite rapidly) to quickly get closer to your vision.
  • Learning to experiment with and expand your sense of colour, mark making and process.
  • Learning to let your painting (and the pure qualities of paint and marks) have a life of its own, and to a certain extent, be the guide.

Materials List

You can paint in Oil, Acrylic or Gouache, so bring the painting materials appropriate to your medium.

For quick studies:

  • Sketchbook or paper, drawing board if necessary, bulldog clips
  • Pencils, charcoal, any drawing materials you like
  • For painting:
  • Palette, disposable palette, acrylic or gouache palettes
  • Rags, for wiping and clean up
  • Spare containers, water containers
  • Anything you like using, like palette knives


  •  A range of canvasses and board sizes. For traditional portraits we will work to life size. 5:4 ratio tends to be optimal for portrait studies (4:3 is also fine), so 38x30cm (15x12”) support is a good start, also 51x40cm (20x16”) for a bit more space. You may want to work on a larger canvas, particularly for a contemporary work, we can discuss this if you need. 
  • For Gouache bring heavy water media paper, preferably smoother style, at least not too rough.

Brushes |  A guide:

  • Oil traditional - rounds in cheap Hog Bristle #12x2, #10x2, #8x2, #6x4, #4x4, #2x2, #1x2.
  • Acrylic - your acrylic brush set up may be different, I would use the above, but you may prefer synthetic options
  • Contemporary - you can also bring anything that will make experimental marks including any other type of brush, or brushes you normally use like flats.
  • Gouache - standard synthetic sable in a range of sizes, for large areas and fine work, rounds and flat


  • Traditional portraits – Titanium White, Ivory Black, Yellow Ochre, Indian Red (red ochre), Burnt Umber, Ultramarine Blue, Cad Yellow Light (or equiv), Cad Red (or equiv), Alizarin Crimson (or equiv). Most flesh tones can be achieved with these colours. Try to get these if you want to understand traditional realism.
  • More contemporary colours: you can also add – Phthalo Blue, Phthalo Green, Magenta, Cad Orange etc. for some strong and punchy colours, or bring any colours that you like to use. You will notice a big difference between Student and Professional quality paint, so get what you can afford.
  • The colours are fairly universal, Gouache may have some different names but refer to the oil colour for reference.

Mediums and Solvents

  • Oils - we will be strictly using an odourless system, my personal favourite is Galkyd Medium and Gamsol Solvent. I would recommend a quick drying medium (odourless), but you can also use linseed oil with the awareness that your painting might not be properly dry for the next week. I recommend taking your brushes home wrapped in glad wrap to clean and wash. Clean brushes with solvent and then wash with soap AFTER EVERY SESSION. Try not to come to class with hard brushes! Quick drying mediums are very hard on brushes.
  • Acrylics – can be a basic Acrylic Painting Medium, Gel Medium, Impasto Medium etc. I personally like to use just water, like gouache.
  • Oil painters should wear disposable gloves, Nitrile are better, and stronger over longer periods.
  • When using oil paints
    Use odourless artist quality solvent for cleanup and diluting mediums. Solvents MUST be odourless. You will need jars with lids to store spent solvents/mediums. Your tutor will give you information on reusing and disposing of spent solvents and mediums.

About studio classes

Our class sizes are small, ensuring you receive the individual tuition you need. We have a maximum of 12 students per class.

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