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Painting Portraits with Stephanie Spay

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Painting Portraits with Stephanie Spay


Stephanie Spay

Stephanie Spay is an award winning Indiana based oil painter with a constant passion for the figure and portrait, an enthusiasm for still life, and a fascination for landscape. She was drawn to art at a very tender age and has been smitten with the relationship ever since. As a teen, she placed in several drawing competitions in her high school. She was awarded a scholarship her first year at John Herron School of Art, Indianapolis. Upon graduation, she taught elementary art for a time and then set out on her own as a self employed artist, taking commissions and producing mural work until the birth of her first child. Painting for pleasure during her first ten years of motherhood, she returned to the art world in 2017. The moments she seeks in paint are intimate, personal, and relatable. She works primarily in oil and draws her inspiration from children, family, and nature. Stephanie is a graduate of John Herron School of Art with a Bachelors degree in art education. She has continued improving her practice as a painter through workshops and/or mentorships with modern master painters like Daniel Gerhartz and Tina Garrett. She draws influence from the intimacy of classical painters and the emotive color and calculated brushwork of the French and American Impressionists. She is a member of the Hoosier Salon, Indiana Plein Air Painters Association, Indiana Artists Club, The Hamilton County Artist Association, and the National Portrait Society.

About the Class

In this workshop, award-winning artist Stephanie Spay will go over the fundamentals of painting with emphasis on portrait using photos as a reference. Because photos can misrepresent the relationships of the value, color, and perspective, students will learn some basic photography and editing tools to create a life like reference. Students will learn a variety of value finding, edge finding, and color mixing strategies through live demonstrations by Stephanie each day. They will learn how to paint form and capture the essence of the model, making a work of art and not a perfect copy of a photo. The focus will be on simplification by minimal use of values and using a variety of edges to create form. Personalized and individual critiques and feedback will take place while students work. The class will take place 9:30am-4pm each day.

Supply List

These are the colors I will be using on my palette. I do encourage you to aquire these colors, however, if you prefer to use what you already have, a good rule of thumb is to make sure you have a warm and cool option of each color, especially the primaries, a white, and a black.

Transparent Red Oxide- Gamblin
Ultramarine Blue- Gamblin
Kings Blue-any brand
Phthalo Turquoise-Gamblin
Cadmium Orange-Gamblin
Cadmium Red-Gamblin
Green Gold-Gamblin
Yellow Ochre-Gamblin
India Yellow-Gamblin
Titanium White-Gamblin
Ivory Black-Gamblin
Quinacridone Magenta-Gamblin
Suggested Brushes:
The Red Dot Series Combers brushes from Rosemary and Co are a go to for me when painting flesh! They were a game changer for my portraits when I was first introduced to them. Rosemary and Co is based out of England, so if you want to purchase these, the sooner the better. I will, hopefully, have some available in class that you can purchase from me, as well. These brushes can be found at

Rosemary’s Red Dot Series Comber sizes 1⁄8”, 1⁄4”, 3⁄8”, 1⁄2”
Rosemary’s Red Dot Series Spotter size 3
The brushes below can all be found at
Isabey Special Brush round series 6036 size 1
Hamburg Premier Pro Handmade Brush, Filbert sizes 4, 6, and 8
Signet Robert Simmons 42 Filbert sizes 2, 4, and 6
If you already own some small rounds, sable filberts of various small to medium sizes, and medium size bristle brushes, these, too, could work. Contact me if you have any questions.
Painting Substrate:
(Oil primed is a must! I have had some very bad days painting in oils on acrylic primed canvas.)
Centurion OP Profesional Oil Primed Archival Linen Panels (at least 2)
Alternatively, I will have sheets of oil primed linen for sale at the workshop.
Other Materials to Bring to Class:
Viva or Scott’s Blue roll of paper towels
Grocery sack for your trash
Palette knife (small diamond head)
Jar for your solvent
Glass or wood palette
Razor blade for cleaning glass palette
Smart phone or ipad

I will provide:
Walnut Oil and Odor Free Solvent
Nitrile gloves
11x14 canvas sheets for purchase $5 each
Some Rosemary’s Combers for sale
The gallery does have provided easels, but if you prefer your own, feel free to bring it.

One last suggestion:
I will be wearing a visor or ball cap. This helps shield my eyes from the distraction of overhead lighting when I paint and helps me hone in on my values. You may want to do the same.

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