• Portland, OR



















Day One - April 17

7:00 We will meet at one of the many restaurants in the hotel

Day Two - April 18

8:30  Breakfast in the Jordan Room.

9:30 A talk through Gillian’s sketchbooks pages and mixed media work that incorporate portraits and place. A few quick demos on ways of using your sketchbook before we venture out to explore the area with sketchbooks and cameras in hand to gather information and imagery for further exploration.

1:00  Lunch in the Jordan Room

Further exploration with our sketchbooks and camera around the hotel before returning to the studio to go through and gather our day's work. 4:30 class is over. Dinner is on your own. 

Day Three - April 19

8:30-9:30  Breakfast in the Jordan room followed by an introduction to working with portraiture using simple drawing materials – demonstrations and quick exercises to encourage descriptive drawing and mark making.

Lunch will be at 12:30 followed by further exploration of portraiture playing with various ways of creating character, expressive mark making, layering and losing and finding edges to create atmospheric portraits. Class is over at 4:30 The evening is free and you may use the room to continue painting. 

Day Four - April 20

Same as the previous day, breakfast, work, lunch, more work. Exploring placing the figure in a composition – combining ideas from our sketches from day one and our portrait drawings from day two and experimenting with composition and creating narrative by suggesting a sense of place and time. Class is over at 4:30. The evening is free.

Day Five - April 21

Same schedule for breakfast and lunch. Today we will consolidate our sketches, exercises and exploratory work to create compositions using mixed media. Working on editing our ideas, creating atmosphere and fully realized works of art all whilst thinking about what to include and what to edit out. Class is over at 4:30 and the evening is free.

Day Six - April 22

Breakfast from 8:30-9:30. We will wrap up our projects. Lunch is on your own and the afternoon is free to explore Portland or to continue working. 4:00 we will meet to clean up and share our work. Then there is free time until our final dinner together this evening at 7:00. 

Day Seven - April 23 You are free to leave anytime. 



Over time, Gillian has discovered the joy in representing characters of all ages in her work – children that are embarking on the adventure that is life, and older people with all the experience and wisdom that is etched on their faces. Inspired by our venue for the week – The McMenamin's Hotel which is a former school, we will explore ways of representing various characters in our work and how bringing a sense of place into our compositions can allow the viewer to imagine their own narrative and connect with the artwork.

Using mixed media techniques we will play with portraiture and connection between character and place. We will sketch in the local area to gather inspiration for our work in the studio and study ways of using reference imagery to create work that enables us to grow as unique artists. Playing with composition and expression to explore narrative elements in our work. How much do we say or suggest and how much can we leave for the viewer to interpret in their own way?

This Escape includes

  • Five days of instruction from Gillian
  • Welcome reception
  • Our own "classroom" in the McMenamins Kennedy School
  • Five breakfasts and lunches
  • Farewell dinner
  • Some class supplies
  • New art tribe

Accommodations - McMenamins Kennedy School

The McMenamins have been renovating and restoring historical buildings in the PNW converting them into hotels with restaurants, movie theaters, soaking pools and breweries. This project is in the Alberta Street Neighborhood in Portland. Rooms have been set aside for this workshop under "Workshop with Gillian." 

The price for this workshop is $1,650 and limited to 12

Price does not include accommodations or airfare. 

Final Payment is due October 17

This workshop is full and a waitlist has been started. Use the button below to have your name added to the list.

Airport: Portland International Airport (PDX). The airport is 12 miles northeast of downtown Portland. Public transportation and taxis are available 24/7.

Student Supply List

  • Charcoal sticks and pencils, white pastel, graphite pencils and sticks, erasers, marks all pencils.
  • Oils pastels (just a very few in your favorite colors)
  • Conte sticks and pencils (your favorite colors plus black and sepia colors)
  • Sennelier inks – suggested colors are burnt umber and burnt sienna, white plus any other colors of your own choosing (go with what feels right and appeals to you!)
  • White Golden fluid acrylic paint
  • Various dip pens (handles and nibs), bamboo dip pens
  • Embossing tool (found in cardmaking supplies stores – just something with a fine metal rounded point)
  • Paint brushes in any sizes. A hardback sketchbook measuring at least 21 x 30 cms
  • (We will provide paper – I will order large sheets of drawing paper and watercolour paper – this will be charged as a materials kit cost per person)
  • We will also provide carbon paper, tracing paper and gesso 


Gillian Lee Smith is a Scottish artist living in the beautiful, historic North-East coast of England. Inspiration and connection comes from individuals and communities and the marks they make on the landscape in which they reside. Coastal villages that cling to the space between land and sea. Communities of people that are forever between that place of hope and loss. And the way our own personal narratives in turn become etched on our faces and in our character.

As a teacher, Gillian is inspired to bring her love of people and place to each workshop using a wealth of techniques to make new discoveries along with her students. The author of two highly successful online courses - Unearth Gather Create and Drawn to Expression which explore the fundamentals of art while encouraging exploration and progression.