Portraiture: Exploring the Human Face (3 part series)

Live from Philadelphia, United States

The human face is the most compelling and often the most challenging subject to capture. Whether you've felt intimidated and would like to learn, or you'd maybe like to try different approaches, this will be a fun and explorative 3 part series led by VAWAA artist Clarissa.

Clarissa is a figurative painter whose emotive portraits have appeared in numerous films and tv shows. She knows how to capture character as well as form, and is looking forward to sharing her process of drawing a human face.

For 3 consecutive Sundays we'll be learning the fundamentals of how to capture the essence in a human face, and infuse it with nuanced details to bring them to life in an intentional way. By the end of the session, you will have a good understanding of how to tell a story through portraiture, multiple sketches and completed drawing of a self-portrait or an imaginary human face

All levels are welcome. There will be plenty of time to share, get feedback and meet other participants from around the world.

If you are not in EDT time zone, be sure to convert the time.

Session 1 (October 17, 2-4p ET): The Human Face

We'll look at different types of human portraits - self portraits, fine arts, historical, characters depicted in film and literature, surreal and more. Then we'll dive into basic drawing exercises learning how to draw the head, understand proportion, gesture and anatomy. 

Session 2 (October 24, 2p-4p ET): Drawing a Character in Portrait

In this session, we'll explore different characters and look at found artwork or photos that depict specific examples of character traits. We'll do an imagination exercise, play a character word association game to draw different traits. Then we'll learn various drawing techniques to capture it all in a portrait. 

Session 3 (October 31, 2p-4p ET): Draw Self-Portrait or Imaginary Human Face

In this last session, we'll put it all together to create your own self or imaginary human face. We’ll do a guided imagery exercise to visualize what your character is doing, come up with a story about them and how this shapes their character.

What you'll need

  • Sketch pad - 16 x 20
  • Charcoal paper, colored - 16 x 20
  • Vine charcoal
  • Kneaded eraser
  • White staedtler eraser
  • Graphite pencils - 3B - 4H
  • White pencil
  • Conte pencils - sanguine
  • Small mirror

How to join

We'll be hosting this VAWAA Online on Zoom. We'll send link and details to join via email 1 day and again 1 hour before it begins.

About Clarissa

Clarissa is a synesthete and a figurative painter. Her training and education is in the academic tradition of working with the figure, as well in the decorative arts.She studied in private studios around New York, then the New York Academy of Art, The Art Students League of New York and then completed her degree at Penn and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the oldest art school in the country.

Her work appears in both private and public collections. You may have seen Clarissa’swork before without even realizing it. She spent almost two decades as a scenic artist with over 40 credits in film and television, including creating Lee Krasner paintings in the film Pollock. Over the years, she created sets varying from burned out buildings togilded ballrooms, reproductions of master paintings for films to original artwork for film characters.

Visit her artist page to learn more about her in-person VAWAA.


"This is the kind of learning experience you never want to end. Clarissa is a knowledgable, experienced and inspiring teacher. You can't help but have fun while you're learning. I highly recommend her classes!" - Joyce

"Fascinating subject presented by a delightful and knowledgeable artist who clearly loves her subject." - Jennifer

"Thoroughly enjoyed. With Clarissa it is easy to stay present as one would not want to miss a word as she has much to share and does so in an easy, experienced, manner as she is passionate about her topic. Classes are readily accessible for all audiences to understand. Insightful. I applied my learnings to a self portrait I was working on. This is a class I would enjoy every week for a long while and an immersion would be great.  HIGH MARKS!" - Lisa

"Clarissa is an excellent storyteller. I learned so much and really enjoyed the process." - Autumn

"Clarissa has a great way to deliver the material that highlights different context." - Fransisca

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