UART Tip #54: “Quick Tips for Expressive Portrait Painting” with Hilarie Couture

STEp 1: Start with your line drawing with not much detail. Use tic marks to indicate size and placement.

STEp 2: Look at the colors and make color shape decisions based on how you want the painting to feel, including the background. Block these areas in with bold side strokes with your pastel sticks indicating color based on 3 values: light, medium and dark.

STEP 3: Use alcohol to wet the lightest to darkest areas, creating a wash that will color the paper without filling much of the tooth. Let it drip and be free!

STEP 4: Go in and start refining the darks and indicate your lightest lights. The rest will be midtones. Compare everything to each other.  Work with temperature- warm to cool, cool to warm.

Continue to refine and use your unique mark making to every area of the painting.  The more textural, the more exciting, until you feel you have nothing more to add.

Hilarie Couture

Check out Hilarie’s art at

Join Hilarie Couture for a UART 2-day pastel workshop, where we will explore the art of creating lifelike portraits and figures using pastels on UART Premium Sanded Pastel Paper. This workshop is designed for artists of all levels, from beginners to advanced, who want to improve their skills in drawing the human form.

In this workshop, we will focus on three key elements of creating a realistic figure: structure, value and temperature. By understanding these elements and how they work together, we can create portraits and figures that look alive and dynamic.