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Expressive Figure Drawing: Portrait and Figure Expressions- Online

Instructor: Susan O’Neill

Lessons, in contrast, linking the representational to the abstract, this semester will focus on capturing expressive figurative drawings while understanding essential anatomy for the artist. In this class, I encourage you to push your boundaries and limits. Explore hidden curvilinear elements riddled throughout the figure and the pictorial space with classical and mixed media materials. Each week, emphasis is placed on careful observation of gesture and anatomical structure, line quality, and composition using traditional and contemporary materials. Included are themes to inspire and discussions of historical and modern works of art, instructor demonstrations, with focus on understanding skeletal and muscular anatomy while creating a dynamic finished drawing.

For ONLINE students:  Right before the semester starts I will send an email, dividing the class into thirds.  A, B, and C.  Every week I will allow time at the end of the class (or beyond the end of class) to critique one of the three groups.  Everyone else can stay and listen, continue to draw, or sign off.  You can email if you don’t want a public critique.  So out of 9 weeks you will receive at least 3 critiques in addition to short Student Gallery critiques.

Model fee is extra. The course is held online.

For more information, contact The Art League School at 703-683-2323.

All Dates & Times

Class Supplies

Expressive Figure Drawing: Portrait and Figure Expressions Supplies

This kit of supplies is available for purchase here, and can be shipped for a fee, or picked up curbside. The kit includes the underlined items. Please indicate in the notes section of your order if you would like to schedule curbside pick-up, or if you need your kit mailed to you. Please contact us at store@theartleague.org if you would like to purchase a selection of items different than the kit.

Expressive Figure Drawing: Portrait and Figure Expressions, Susan O’Neill

NOTE:  If you have previous materials you can start there, no need to purchase all new.  We will discuss materials and paper during the first class and why certain choices may be useful. It is not necessary to have all the materials on the first day. Pace your introduction of new materials if you are not comfortable. Class will offer suggested techniques with mixed-media work but work however you are comfortable.  You will stumble on your own unique techniques and marks through the experimentation with the material discussed in class.


Newsprint paper 18” x 24” for warm up gestures each week

Drawing paper or any sturdy drawing paper. You may want 2-3 sheets of each depending on how you work.  Papers vary depending on your style/touch. Experimentation is encouraged. Suggestions:

  1. Canson Mi-Teintes paper, white, light gray such as “Pearl Gray.” 2-3 sheets. This is a heavier multi-purpose drawing paper. Make sure to use the side that is less rough.
  2. Hanhemuehle Ingres paper, “middle gray” (2-3 sheets). This is a nice drawing paper but does not work well with multi-media material and water.
  3. Stonehenge Drawing Paper or Hot-pressed watercolor paper – best for mixed media work, (2-5 sheets, white)
  4. (optional) Strathmore 500 Series Charcoal Pad – 12” x 18”, Assorted Tints, 24 Sheets or single sheets


Black Conte crayons

Sanguine Conte crayons

2 each hard, medium, and soft General’s compressed Charcoal pencils

White charcoal stick or pencil

Red chalk – either Faber Castell #190 Venetian Red or #188 pencil or NuPastel (Sanguine or Burnt Sienna)

Stabilo “All” colored pencils for film & glass, black plus plus at least one other color

Stump (Tortillion – twisted paper to blend charcoal)

Kneaded eraser

Tombow Mono Zero refillable eraser and/or General’s Factis mechanical eraser


Compressed charcoal sticks

2 Char-Kole sticks

Box of vine charcoal – General’s Brand or Nitram charcoal sticks: H (blue), HB (orange), B (green). Or various sizes of vine charcoal.

Water-Soluble graphite Lyra Graphite Crayon  – 6B or 9B

Water-soluble charcoal (Derwent XL Charcoal Blocks OR Water-Soluble colored Charcoals (Art Graf Artist Water-Soluble Chalk set of 3, or 6

Walnut Ink

Inexpensive watercolor brush, or a variety of brushes to apply water

Hog bristle brush, size 6, filbert, only to be used for charcoal

1-2” Bristle brushes to blend charcoal – (large inexpensive or worn house painting brushes)

Spray bottle

Drawing board 23” x 26”



Acrylic gesso

Clear Gesso by Liquitex


The kit includes the underlined items.

Cost is $105.59 plus sales tax of $6.34 for a Total = $ 111.93




How to Register

When registration is open (check the “Registration starts” date above), click the Add to Cart button to select this course. Add as many classes and workshops as you like, and then proceed to the Checkout page to complete your registration.

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