Figurative Design Workshops: An intuitive approach to character development of faces and figures

For details and registration:
Click on individual venue and registration links below.  All workshops are similar in
content with extra projects and info for 4 and 5 day workshops.

Workshops with Jeannie McGuire will encourage and challenge artists to communicate a story or feeling in their
paintings to create strong figurative works of art in watercolor. 
Through demonstrations, candid conversation and 
individual time Jeannie shares her painting style and thoughts as well as the versatility of watercolor when 
employing a higher ratio of pigment to water. Referencing a variety of photographs and snap shots her workshops 
focus on; absorbing the viewer by developing emotion and movement; intertwining figurative subjects with their 
background; seeing natural design in reference materials; exploring the impact of cropping and the placement of 
contrast; and most importantly a purpose for creating art in your unique style. Jeannie hopes to inspire individual 
expression and encourage students to go beyond their current work level and aspire to create exhibition quality works.

Art organizations, small groups and individuals wishing to host a workshop may contact me to request a date.
The artists' studio is a great space for individual instruction or a small group of 4. 


Watercolor Society of Oregon

Eugene, OR
March 27 - 31, 2017

Details & registration

Dillman's Bay Resort & Workshops
Lac du Flambeau, WI
June 25 - 28, 2017
Details & registration

Georgia Watercolor Society

Gainesville, GA
August 15 - 18, 2017
Details & registration

Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society
San Jose, CA
September 11 - 14, 2017
Details & registration online only at
For a specific workshop question contact

Northeast Art Workshops Retreats
Gloucester, MA
October 9 - 13, 2017

Hayward, CA
March 19 - 22, 2018

International Workhops 2018 
Giens, France
Check back for details

    Vermont Watercolor Society, demo at the Landgrove Inn 2016

Madeline Island School of the Arts, WI, classroom 2015

workshop specifications:
Contact me for scheduling a date, fees and additional information.

Instructor:  Jeannie McGuire
Workshop:  Figurative Design
Medium:  Watercolor
Level:  All levels of artists' with a desire to create beyond their comfort zone. 
Age:  18 years and up
Dates & registration:  Three to five day workshops
Location:  Host's location.

Jeannie McGuire developed her unique approach to the figure by exploring a freer application of paint and pushing her
style to the limits of expression. Working primarily in watercolor her narrative type paintings are referenced from photos
or sketches that spark her interest followed by drawing a strong design structure which sets the stage for the painting
process to develop, change and unfold into a story or persona.

Workshop instruction focuses on creating paintings of people as works of art versus formal portraits and on developing
backgrounds that encourage a story, feeling or purpose to emerge. Students explore: natural design in reference
materials, size, shape and cropping impact, pigment maintenance, intentional and spontaneous marks, use of titanium
white, and the freedom to change ones mind. Each day begins with a demo pertaining to the days project such as:
explore eyes and faces in an unconventional way, focus on a single figure with an obscure background, and intertwine
a group of people with their background elements. Attendees receive plenty of personal attention, individual critiques
and painting time. 

Student Material List:
Students are to bring their own personal photography or other acquired photos and snap shots to reference. Include
posed and un-posed figure(s) and face(s). Look for eyes, emotion, movement, gesture, single figures and groupings,
interesting poses and background elements. 

The following supplies are considered essential; a few are noted as very helpful.

• PAPER:  Cotton/100% rag artists’ watercolor paper such as 140 lb. Arches, Lanaquarelle or other known brands, quarter
to full sheets (although working large is encouraged).  A variety of paper surfaces such as hot press, cold press or rough 
are helpful. Do not prep paper with a medium.

• PIGMENT & PALETTE:  Watercolor pigments; a variety of transparent, semi-transparent, semi-opaque, opaque, values, 
fun colors and titanium white watercolor pigment.  A large palette is helpful. Squeeze fresh pigments into the wells or 
reconstitute the pigment already in your palette wells.

• BRUSHES:  Include at least two of the following flat brushes - 1", 1½” or 2” flat brush such as Robert Simmons SkyFlow or 
other brand.

• TABLE TOP:  Work surface should be slightly elevated.

• MAGNIFYING LENS:  A magnifier called a linen tester or loupe, 1” 6X magnification, is very helpful in seeing photographic 
detail. Google it to purchase.

---artist note:  
The majority of my pigments are currently Daniel Smith 
professional watercolor pigments (no acrylic or gouache).  
I supplement my standard palette with fun colors and neutrals.

The following are a few favorites..but by no means are these 
pigments a purchasing request for students.

Titanium White
Yellow Ochre
Raw Umber Violet
Rich Green Gold
Ultramarine Violet
Cobalt Teal Blue
Alizarin Crimson
Shadow Violet
Quinacridone Violet
Cerulean Blue
French Ultramarine Blue
Cobalt Blue
Naples Yellow
Cobalt Turquoise
Cobalt Blue Violet
Neutral Tint
among others

Mary Lou, MO
It's been several weeks now since Michelle and I were part of your workshop at Mount Vernon.  I'm still absorbing 
all the information and advice that you supplied in those few days!  Your approaches and techniques open up new
ideas and ways to approach a subject. I love your story inventions to motivate a sense of "knowing" your subjects!  

We had a great time and thank you for sharing your knowledge and energy with us.  
Wishing you continued great success--

Terri, MD
Jeannie... Hi again... since the workshop I have been realizing that the whole process is utterly fascinating.... 
Thought so much about own style and how to incorporate the things I admire soooo much from the way you work, 
into my own... I've been painting a lot this week - already a good sign! And have made big messes... But realized 
that, is exactly what one has to do... I don't even know the questions I want to ask and am aware of babbling right 
now, but my point is that something took.... And much as we sometimes want step by step instructions, there is no
substitute for trial and error and willingness to take risks.

Jan, PA
I retired about two years ago and picked up my long dormant interest in art. My first class was with Jeannie
McGuire through the McMurray Art League. She taught us how to do eyes in watercolor, helping me shake the rust
off my skills. I was hooked. Her style is a fascinating combination of realism and abstract. I find it impossible to
duplicate but irresistible to observe and enjoy. She is a wonderful teacher and my initial class was followed by
several more, including a weekend workshop in the Poconos. The Poconos workshop was especially enjoyable
with a whole weekend devoted to art, art, art. Jeannie is an excellent instructor and is able to conduct constructive
critiques of everyone’s work, regardless of ability level. As a student, what I got from her workshops was some
good pointers on design, creative use of color and the freedom to use out-of-the-box approaches in my art. My
fellow students and I are thrilled with her recent recognition and success!

Alexis, CA

Thank YOU, Jeannie; I really appreciated your creative process and your endeavoring to teach the underlying
principles of learning to make one's own marks--not an easy thing to teach.  Watching you work and hearing your
thinking were invaluable to me.  I really enjoyed the fact that you have no rules or easy recipes.  As I scrubbed
something for the 3rd time (not something I've ever done before), I heard your voice and felt "just fine" about doing
it.  I'm actually a landscapist with practically no experience on portraits or figures, but I'm reaching for something
different and you gave me some valuable tools to use with my preferred subjects and helped me reorient myself in
terms of finding my own markmaking.

Marilynn, VA

"Jeannie,  Since our workshop with you, I can't tell you how often I think of the words of wisdom you shared so
freely with all of us.  They just keep on coming.  Also your demos were very informative and fun.   We all learned
so much by watching you. Each day you arrived with fresh ideas for us to work on.  Our "eye" paintings were
amazing.  The two inch brush has found a home in my studio and I love it.  As you suggested, we all went out
and bought one. 
You helped us look at watercolor in a totally new way.  We are loving our white paint and  layering techniques.
Changes are no longer a problem or a start over!  Oh, and cropping..............what a fantastic difference that
makes.  It adds instant drama and excitement to almost any painting. 
This workshop was planned  by my just getting together a group of seven painting friends.  Working with you
in planning it was very easy.  Having only 8 people in our class gave each of us lots of personal  attention. 
Thank you Jeannie!  You gave us a very busy and fun filled and informative three days.  We all had a wonderful
time.!!   I would recommend your workshop to anyone and wish you great success with your beautiful paintings."

Painting people, figures and faces in watercolor. Individual purchase and commission.
National and international show exhibition. Jeannie McGuire from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania USA

Copyright © Jeannie McGuire