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What Portraiture Means to Me

Whilst I incorporate various subject matter into my artwork, portraits are an opportunity to work with the familiar and the mysterious all at the same time. As artists, we are all curious, I think, and the challenge of representing the complexities of the human face and form are what keeps me coming back to the easel again and again.

I paint a little of myself into each and every portrait I create. So that whether I am working from life, reference imagery or my imagination, there is an urge to express what is deep inside in order to connect with the world around me. Each portrait becomes a part of my own unique experience.


Gillian Lee Smith

In this short course on how to create an expressively painted portrait, I will guide you through the various stages of building up a portrait first in charcoal and then in acrylic paints.

These lessons are extracted from my longer course Portraits – Your Art, Your Way. If you have taken my newest long course, Portraits – Your Art, Your Way, you already have access to these lessons.

This is course is for those who are interested in getting a taste of my teaching style while learning how I create a portrait from start to finish, every mistake and every brush stroke.

The course is delivered via email immediately upon completion of registration. Links to the PDF materials are provided. All PDFs and videos are downloadable, and I encourage you to download all of the course content to your personal computer or device as soon as your confirmation email arrives.

Course Content


Lesson One

Creating a quick, dynamic charcoal drawing with energy and expression.


Lesson Two

Working into this initial drawing to create a likeness to your reference, concentrating on form, shadows and light, mark-making and emotion.


Lesson Three

Mixing a colour palette for your portrait.


Lesson Four

Using your charcoal drawing and reference image to create an expressive portrait in acrylics.

Gillian Lee Smith

Self Study Registration

Gillian’s newest offering, Expressive Portrait in Acrylics Short Course, is available as a downloadable self study course! Wait no longer! You can register now and receive instant access to all of the course content. Download the PDFs and videos to your own computer or device and work your way through the course at your own pace.


Investment for this downloadable short course:   £37

Click here to convert this amount to your currency.

Register Now

What Students are Saying


I can’t say enough about this course. I think it was the most fulfilling course I’ve ever taken.

Alyse Sanders

 “I was in art school as of last year and everything I learn from you is just as valuable if not more than art school. What you are teaching and how you teach is one of the greatest gifts to give someone who has never been to art school and/or can’t afford it. It’s my dream to create an online school teaching art to kids and adults because of those reasons I mentioned. So I admire you and you have been an inspiration.

Jennifer Perry

“I have LOVED the class and will enjoy continuing my study as I slowly work my way through. You are not only a gifted artist, but a generous and kind person. I thank you for your giving spirit which shone through each and every video. I hope to someday take a class from you in person!”

Beth Cole

“I was highly impressed by the amount of content in the course, it was like a college semester worth of information!”

Amber Walker

“I have been taking classes for the last year or so pretty regularly. Gillian’s class is totally different. I feel like I am in art school! The first week was more info then a lot of month long classes. Gillian comments on every piece shown on the page and is there daily encouraging and prompting us. I would recommend it to everyone.”

Sandy Belt

“I have adored Gillian Cox’s work for several years now. When I found out she was teaching an online workshop, there was no hesitation. I signed up. Now I have taken many classes and not always, but sometimes my expectations are much higher than what the class actually is. Not so with Gillian. I just wanted to watch her work because her work is so deep and thought provoking and unbelievably beautiful. She is an excellent teacher. She is talking as she is creating and able to really explain what she is doing in such exquisite detail.”

Kate Thompson

“Gillian is an amazing artist and an equally amazing teacher. What a comprehensive, professional, creative, responsive, beautiful presentation with superb videos and art instruction, gorgeous images and written materials to enhance learning, and creative inspiration to enable students to unearth their own inner vision for their art. Every day I come to the online classroom with so much renewed passion for art. And proof that the best teachers are also always learning themselves, Gillian frequently asks if we have any feedback for her as an instructor. The environment she has created is supportive and welcoming of everyone at every stage in their own creative exploration. This is so much more than an online art course. It is art school with a group of friends that includes the brilliant, generous instructor.”

Joanne Rose

 “I would recommend your course without reservation and wish you every success in the future.”

Dalene Robertson

 “Wonderful content, superb teacher, fine art instruction without any the worry of my skill level, but thorough & comprehensive…Artfully & Thoughtfully Done!

Lynne O’Neal

Watching you paint and draw is immensely useful. I learn so much. And I love the way you write about artistic expression.

Sharyle Doherty

“She teaches the foundation of drawing the portrait which is so important to all levels, for beginners to learn and for more experienced artist to revisit. She then demonstrates expressively her creations which gives the students the ability to take from foundational work into a more expressive and personal direction. Absolutely the best class I have ever taken.”

Kate Thompson

I love everything about her style – her teaching – just everything!!!!!

Suzanne O’Mullan


You will use simple drawing materials such as charcoal and acrylics. However, the purpose of my demonstrations is not to make you a slave to the materials I am using but to encourage you to work with the materials that best enable you to create the portraits you wish to create. So you can use anything you like!

The Materials List is filled with suggested items only based on the demonstrations. If you have studied on one of my courses already, it is likely you will already have most of the materials. The materials list is available after registration.

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