Portrait & Figure Artist Learning Path

Something to keep in mind…

These learning paths outline different “years” of training. The general breakdown assumes that a student can complete a phase in about one month. Keep in mind that this is the optimal state of progression, and that many of us who already have a day job or other responsibilities may have a difficult time keeping this pace up. These learning paths are a general outline for our curriculum, so apply it to your own life, goals and allotted time for art.

First Year

The first year of your training at Watts Atelier will consist of foundational drawing. A heavy emphasis will be placed on constructive drawing, comparative measurement and use of the Reilly abstraction.

The idea for the first year is to be doing a lot of “starts” of drawings. We will not be getting into finishing drawings in the first year, though you will practice some rendered/shaded efforts.


Course list, from left to right:
Click on a course below to see a preview

  1. Drawing Fundamentals Phase I
  2. Drawing Fundamentals Phase II
  3. Head Drawing Fundamentals
  4. Figure Drawing Fundamentals
  5. Quicksketch Fundamentals
  6. Structural Figure Drawing
  7. Head Phase I – Layins and Structure
  8. Figure Phase I – Mannequinization
  9. Head Phase II – Casts and Photos
  10. Figure Phase II – 20m Layins
  11. Head Phase III 
  12. Figure Phase III – Figure Quicksketch (Coming 2024)

Second Year

The second year will focus on introducing you to painting. Starting with basic Gouache and oil painting in the monochrome and Zorn palette. The second year will also introduce you into more complex and finessed drawing with a focus on good proportions, values and edgework. As you move into the later section of this year you’ll be working more on master studies and gestures.



Course list, from left to right:
Click on a course below to see a preview

  1. Gouache Phase I
  2. Gouache Phase II
  3. Head Drawing Phase IV
  4. Figure Drawing Phase IV
  5. Oil Painting Fundamentals
  6. Portrait Phase I
  7. Gouache Phase III
  8. Figure Painting Phase I
  9. Portrait Phase II
  10. Figure Painting Phase II
  11. Portrait Painting Phase III
  12. Figure Painting Phase III



Third Year

The third year will start to uncover advanced learning. After getting a lot of your straight fundamentals out of the way, you can start to explore more specialty classes. You should at this point have the knowledge needed to continue your own advanced learning on your own, continuing to nurture your own growth and development as an artist. As someone who will specialize in portrait and figure, you will need to grind A LOT of that. The level of expertise required to be a high level portrait and figure artist requires a lot of practice. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t delve into other areas such as landscape, still life and more. Have fun practicing!

Course list, from left to right:
Click on a course below to see a preview

  1. Portrait Phase IV
  2. Drapery
  3. Head Drawing Phase V
  4. Figure Drawing Phase V
  5. Figure Painting Phase IV
  6. Features and Facial Expressions
  7. Bridgman Anatomy Phase I: Torso
  8. Anatomy Intensives: Arms and Legs
  9. Anatomy Intensives: Torso
  10. Composition and Staging


 A Note to Students:

While these learning paths have been charted to best help students in their chosen disciplines, they are by no means the only path to learning.  Students are free to view their lessons and courses in any order they so wish.