Engaging Art Workshops for Aspiring Painters


With Jeannie McGuire:

Creating paintings of people as works of art versus formal portraits

Jeannie hopes to encourage and challenge artists to communicate a story or feeling in their paintings and to create strong figurative works of art. Through demonstrations, candid conversation, and individual time, Jeannie shares her painting style and thoughts as well as the versatility of watercolor.




Jeannie's Studio

Pittsburgh, PA

By Appointment

One-on-one Mentoring In-Person or via Zoom.

Contact me with your interest


Minnesota Watercolor Society

Minnetonka Center for the Arts

Wayzata, MN

April 20–23, 2022

Details and Registration


Riverside Art Workshops

Balmville, NY

October 3-6, 2022

Small Mentoring Intensive

Details and Registration

Workshop Specifications

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

Instructor: Jeannie McGuire
Workshop: Figurative Design
Medium: Watercolor or your choice per venue
Level: Advanced beginner, intermediate, advanced
Age: Adults
Dates, Registration Location: Per venue

Figurative Design Workshop

An intuitive approach to character and compositional development of faces and figures in conjunction with their backgrounds. These 3-5 day workshops for larger groups of 20 are influenced by my current work and will build throughout the week with hands on projects, a lot of spontaneous discussion, design suggestions and painting time.

Workshop instruction focuses on creating paintings of people as works of art versus formal portraits and developing backgrounds that encourage a story, feeling, or purpose. Allow your unique style to emerge from a different perspective.

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 one’s mind.

Each day begins with a demo pertaining to the day’s 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.

Small Mentoring Intensive Workshop

Character and compositional development within several series. A semi-private experience for a small group of 4-10 artists. The class partakes in individual hands-on design, story development and explores their own path. The small class allows extensive individual mentoring and painting time.

One-on-One Mentoring

Customized hourly sessions are available by appointment in my studio, either in-person or via zoom. These personalized one-on-one sessions are tailored to walk you through your own paintings as we discuss in-depth story, design and pigment application options. With an abundance of paintings at hand in my studio I will share examples and demos.

Student Material List:

Students are to bring their own personal photography or other acquired photos and snapshots to reference. Include posed and unposed figure(s) and face(s). Look for character, emotion, gestures, single figures and groupings, interesting poses, and background elements.

Adult subjects work better than children for character development.

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 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.
  • PIGMENT AND PALLETE: Watercolor pigments; a variety of transparent, semitransparent, semiopaque, opaque. Colors are your choice; 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 with water and stir for a yogurt type consistency.
  • BRUSHES: I use flat brushes; 1", 1½”, 2” Robert Simmons SkyFlow Flats. Give this type of brush a try or use brushes you prefer to paint with to create your desired style.
  • WORK SURFACE: Your preference; slanted tabletop board or easel.
  • MAGNIFYING LENS: Optional; 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.

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

"I've found that as an instructor and mentor, my main focus is to inspire working artists to be better artists. To encourage them to paint from the perspective of a story, a persona, and the character of the people in their paintings instead of the local lighting and shadows for instance."


Deb, FL

Jeannie’s intimate, spontaneous, bold figurative watercolors first caught my attention in an art magazine. How did she develop her unconventional, expressive style, where do the ideas come from, and how does she cultivate such emotion in her work? I immediately flew to Pittsburgh for my first Jeannie workshop. That was 7 years and 3 more workshops ago! I’m hooked on seeing through her eyes and hearing about how every painting starts with a story - her story.

Foreign at first, Jeannie’s approach liberated me, saying “there are no rules and you have the freedom to change your mind midstream”. Guaranteed, she will demonstrate and coach sincere advice. My recommendation as a participant: (1) Trust her process and be willing to relax your way from realism to a more loosely rendered, yet convincing piece of artwork, (2) Invest in Jeannie’s recommended materials list, (3) And, take the time to pre-plan with ideas/photos/drawings for her outlined “Daily Projects”, giving yourself the freedom to enjoy her unique, progressive learning experience.

Because of Jeannie’s insights and candor, my work has progressed to a level I could never have imagined. Now, graduating to her mentorship program, she provides the truth and encouragement that I need to grow further and succeed--

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 mark making.

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 graphite and watercolor. Individual purchase and commission. National and international show exhibition. Jeannie McGuire from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.