National Portrait Gallery - Elizabethan Treasures exhibition

Weekend Workshop 8 and 9 March 2019 

Hedgerow Berries

with 12 Adult Students


Day 1
I arrived at the National Portrait Gallery at 10 am, met up with my assistant Helena and together we entered the Education Studio. Having unwrapped all the materials and equipment previously ordered, we set this out on tables ready for each student to begin work, and my own table for demonstrations.


11am Helena went upstairs to greet my students and brought them to meet me. After tea and coffee we visited the Elizabethan Treasures beautiful exhibition of exquisite, tiny miniature portraits and artefacts, celebrating the 400th Anniversary of Nicholas Hilliard and his student Isaac Oliver There was so much to take in, an overview was fine for our first visit.


Returning to the Education studio I asked the students to choose an image to work from, as I had organised  twelve  A4 packs,  each one containing a different image from the exhibition ,kindly provided by the National Portrait Gallery, my timed schedule ,notes on my procedures, my flyer and business card, all set out on my work area.


I then introduced  the way I had set up my work table with materials ready for painting and then described the trace down method to begin their procedures of creating an image. This was to be carried out on an A4 sheet of watercolour paper, using the left hand side for practising techniques to try out the portrait on day 1 and on day 2 using the right hand side for the final portrait.


Throughout the day we had discussions, followed by my demonstrations on: The use of watercolour paints and making colour charts.
Laying in the Carnation as a flat wash of mixed colour for the area of the face, then working up the features, eyes,nose and mouth using hatching and stippling and continuing to paint the rest of the face .


The use of warm and cool greys for shadows.                               
Concentrating on the hair and different textures for the fabrics and lace and lastly the background.
 Also I gave a power point presentation,to show how a portrait developes at different stages. I also introduced the students to several of my own miniature portraits including my “Lace Ladies” which they were able to hold in the palms of their hands.


Day 2
We began with tea and coffee then had a second chance to see the exhibition. I especially tasked the students to find the portrait for the image they had chosen to work from. By this time they were far more discerning about the differences between Nicholas Hilliard and Isaac Oliver’s portraits in the wonderful exhibition


We returned to the studio and delighted with the beauty of such tiny portraits in the exhibition, the students continued with their second image with renewed energy, individually encouraged by me throughout the day as such lovely work was being produced.


We concluded with a revue and displayed all the work together, to assess how the course had developed from beginnings to almost finished work in 2 whole days. I then gave the students my individual critiques to say how pleased I was with the art work and I could see how proud they were with their achievements. The images on show are examples showing the portraits in progress 

                                                                                                                            Feedback from my students was very encouraging.

I must thank Roz Pierson for her introduction to the NPG Events Manager, Fiona Smith and for Fiona’s encouragement with the preparation before the workshop took place.  Also to Caro Jones for being my Guest at the Private View for the Elizabethan Treasures Exhibition, which was an amazing experience


All in all a very worthwhile and memorable time spent at the National Portrait Gallery, London, working with portrait images from the beautiful “Elizabethan Treasures” Exhibition.
Jenny Brooks HS RMS