Class Description:

Taught by Alyssa Monks, this 3-day in-person workshop is designed to guide the student towards creating a painting from a photo reference using both indirect and direct traditional painting techniques. It aims to instruct painters on how to use the photograph to create a painting that surpasses the look of the photograph, rather than simply imitating it.

The workshop will explain how to create a useful photo reference; covering topics such as ideal lighting, camera settings, lenses, Photoshop, and printing. Students will learn to create color relationships that portray space and volume, and create illusion. Emphasis is then placed on paint application and ways of activating the surface. By focusing on deliberate brush strokes and maintaining accurate color relationships rather than rendering the application of paint describes the form. We will accentuate the structural volumes of the form over the contour, concentrating on relating all parts of the picture to each other with an organized palette. From there, students will be guided towards deciding what information is useful to look for and what usual pitfalls to avoid when interpreting a photograph. Deciding when and how to invent and experiment is perhaps the most crucial part of the process. Students will be encouraged to look more at the painting itself than at the photographic source, using it only for initial reference. We will explore ways of seeing the picture objectively, how to imply detail without overstating, and what level of finish works best for the particular painting or style. The painting will develop through indirect layers of opaque and transparent painting to achieve the delicate nuances of flesh and other surfaces. Methods of glazing and scumbling will be discussed. The final result can be a painting that captures the essence of your subject (and your connection with that subject) and contains the intimacy of the human touch that transcends a smooth photo-realistic image. There are a variety of results varying from abstraction/improvisation to a more illusionistic representation. All will be discussed and the challenges and rewards of each will be explored.

Workshop Dates:

Scheduled occurrences for the next session of this class are as follows:

Day 1:
11 am - 6 pm ET
Day 2:
11 am - 6 pm ET
Day 3:
11 am - 6 pm ET

  1. Before Class - Welcome & How to Prepare for Class

  2. Day 1 - Introduction

  3. Day 2 - Lecture and Demonstration

  4. Day 3 - Completion of Painting

  5. After Class - Wrap Up

  • $1,300.00
  • In-Person
  • 3 Days
  • Beginner to Advanced

Meet Your Instructor

Alyssa Monks


Born 1977 in New Jersey, Alyssa began oil painting as a child. She studied at The New School in New York and earned her B.A. from Boston College in 1999. During this time she studied painting at Lorenzo de’ Medici in Florence. She went on to earn her M.F.A. from the New York Academy of Art in 2001. She completed an artist in residency at Fullerton College in 2006 and has lectured and taught at universities and institutions worldwide. She continues to offer workshops and mentorships and lectures regularly. Alyssa has been awarded the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant for Painting three times and serves on the New York Academy of Art’s Board of Trustees. She is represented by Forum Gallery in New York City. Alyssa currently lives and paints in Brooklyn, New York.

Achieve your artistic potential

Join us to discover traditional skills and contemporary practice