Teaching Workshops

It's true when people say the best way to learn is to teach. For as long as I can remember I've enjoyed the process of drawing whether its to make something look real, doodling with lines and shapes, or putting something imaginary onto paper and into the world. When I was in high school I started to experiment with watercolor and acrylic paint. I was really fortunate because my family and friends supported the various creative projects I was interested in. Throughout my life I've been obsessed with creating images that tell stories, reveal feelings I have about myself or my life, portray moments in the lives of others, and represent ideas that are shared among us. When I was an undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, I was given a few opportunities to lead and teach others about art making. I discovered that teaching was something I would enjoy and my strengths as a patient communicator would be suitable in an educator role. As a graduate student studying for my MFA at Michigan State University, I spent 4 semesters teaching as a solo instructor to classes of 20-25 university students on the foundations of drawing, color and design, and sculpture. During those four semesters I learned a lot about what it means to teach, the responsibilities of the educator, student learning styles, effective media and tools for the classroom, how to demonstrate a process, how to lead feedback sessions/critiques, and how to form a healthy system of communication. 

Following my MFA studies, I've decided to pursue my art practice full time. Once again I'm in the role of a student this time researching information about art marketing, sales, building trust with client relationships, developing a business model, sourcing leads, and other facets of operating as a small creative business. Within my business model of being a practicing artist, I've created a way to continue teaching privately. Teaching has always been one of the most rewarding areas within my experience as an artist. Therefore, I've created this page as a landing site for any inquiries regarding private lessons or workshops. If you're an experienced artist looking to learn something new or expand on your foundation, or you're brand new to taking drawing and painting to a new level, then I believe you'll find these courses to be well suited for your needs. Please take a look at the steps I've outlined below to learn more about the workshops/lessons I offer.


Step 1. First I think it would be appropriate for you to explore photo documentation of classrooms and work from students I've taught in the past. This portfolio is not a linear representation of the workshops I teach, but rather a variety of progress and examples of what "process" looks like. One of the main beliefs in my teaching philosophy is to set our goals on making process versus products. The projects in this portfolio range from stages in past courses, medium, scale, and the level of experience students began the courses with. The majority of my teaching portfolio is in drawing. If you'd like to see more visuals for gouache and oil painting workshops please let me know and I'd be happy to share what I have (click on the image to open in expanded view).


Teaching an adult Gouache Portrait Painting Workshop at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts.

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Teaching an adult Gouache Portrait Painting Workshop at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts.

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Charcoal Figure Drawing based on a photographic reference.

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Teaching an adult Gouache Portrait Painting Workshop at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts.

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Step 2. If you're interested in signing up for a private workshop (groups up to 5 are available see pricing in step 3) please review the descriptions of what each medium would entail. Each course description describes the materials needed and lesson plans for each time commitment available. Times are offered in one, two, or three options. Students may sign up for an 8 hour session, and then add another block of 8 hour sessions at a later date if they wish to continue their study. If a student knows they want to sign up for a longer session like 16 or 24 hours they may do so and purchase those packages in full upfront. Currently I'm not accepting students younger than 16 years old. Students younger than 18 may be asked to have a guardian present during lessons.


Drawing Workshops

Materials Needed or Provided

8 Hrs: Graphite Pencil Set, Large (18” x 24”) Sketchpad and Small (9” x 12”) Sketchbook, Kneaded Eraser, Paper Stump, Tape

16 Hrs: + Charcoal Pencil Set, Charcoal Powder, Vine Charcoal


The drawing workshops vary based on the length of time purchased. In 8 hours, each student will be introduced to constructing drawings with: organic line, straight line, sight measuring, directional hatching, and planar analysis. Each method will present the student with ways to convey volume, light, value, perspective, and proportions within a strong composition. A still life arrangement will be setup by the artist and used as a model for observing subject matter. Live demonstrations will provide opportunities for each student to see the process-based information in practice. Included in the workshop are presented texts and images to supplement the ideas and methods taught. Lessons will be followed by concepts and process-driven projects to be developed at home with feedback provided in any forthcoming lessons.


In 16 hours, each student will further develop their understanding of conveying light and form by observing still life arrangements using charcoal as an additive/subtractive medium. Charcoal is a material which allows the artist to focus on the tonal properties of an image and achieve more subtle gradations of light and shadow. This extended course will also focus on different surface qualities that can be used to express mood and atmosphere. Charcoal drawings will be developed also through concepts and process-driven projects developed at home with feedback in forthcoming lessons.


Goals of the Drawing Workshop

The goal of the drawing workshop is to provide each student with tools and information needed to draw believable visuals observed without photographic references nor created with imagination. The workshops are not designed to tutor students on personal projects or ideas, rather they are structured on building skills of looking, drawing, and reviewing for improvement. See my portfolio of student drawings for examples of the art we create in this workshop. Each student will be introduced to the course with the notion that we are making progress not products. As an instructor it is my responsibility to ensure each student finds a sense of growth and success throughout the lessons. The mission of the course is to instill a set of observational skills in each student so they may apply them towards future art projects. An understanding of conveying light, space, and volume provides a solid foundation for any path in the visual arts of 2D, 3D, Graphic Design, and other Digital Media.


Gouache Workshops

Materials Needed or Provided

8 Hrs: M. Graham Basic Set of 5 Gouache Tubes 15ml $40, 5 Sheets of Strathmore Riverpoint Paper $4/sheet, Princeton Pro Series Heritage Brush Set of 4 $25

16 Hrs: M. Graham Burnt Umber, Phthalo Blue, Phthalo Green, Dioxazine Purple, Cadmium Red, Blick Empty Watercolor Tin, Blick Empty Watercolor Pans


The gouache workshops vary based on the length of time purchased. In 8 hours, each student will be introduced to the differences between traditional watercolor and gouache (opaque watercolor). I will give a demonstration on ways to use and prolong gouache paint along with other material tips. Students will be given a short introduction to basic color theory and how to reference the color wheel. To start we will create three small master studies first using black and white, then blue + black + white, and finally red + yellow + black. The master studies allow students gain a feel for the medium and drying time. With the feedback given on the master studies, students will apply this knowledge to a series of paintings which focus on finding big to small shapes within a photo reference. Of three landscape photographs I prepare, the student will select one as their reference to “deconstruct and rebuild” through a painting process. This final project uses the primary palette to create three 6” x 8” paintings each varying in value, design, and representation. Students will finish the workshop with a deeper understanding of color properties, interpreting photographic sources, and a familiarity for this travel friendly medium.


In 16 hours, each student will expand upon their understanding of the primary colors by introducing five new colors to their palette. Along with exploring these new colors we will set up and cover the benefits of housing your paint in a foldable tin palette. Following the 6” x 8” photograph series we will make eight+ studies based on still life arrangements I’ve set up. In these studies, we will focus on new color combinations by limiting the colors in each study while emphasizing dynamic designs. We will break down compositions in strong contemporary and historical painting. Our final project will be centered on the idea of “my utopia” where students will develop a visualization combining landscape, figure, object, and pattern. The finale to the gouache workshop gives the student an opportunity to synthesize methods learned throughout the workshop while expressing their own personal mythology.

Goals of the Gouache Workshop

The goal of the gouache workshop is to form a basis for strong color and design in painting. Gouache being a fast-drying medium lends itself to immediate results and a fast-working time. Each student will be introduced to the course with the notion that we are making progress not products, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t enjoy our exploration into color. As an instructor it is my responsibility to ensure each student finds a sense of growth and success throughout the lessons. The mission of the course is to build an approach to color and design which will connect directly towards the production of other 2D images.


Oil Painting Workshops

Materials Needed or Provided

8 Hrs: Williamsburg Paint Set (Traditional), Princeton Real Value 9100 Brush Set, Lidded Glass Jar, Gamsol Mineral Spirits, Mesh Dish Scrubber, Liquin Painting Medium, Arches Oil Paper Pad, Palette Knife, Disposable Palette Paper Pad, Paper Towels/Old T-Shirts

16 Hrs: 11” x 14” Gesso Primed Stretched Canvas (larger tube of white, replenish colors)

24 Hrs: 18” x 24” Gesso Primed Wood Panel


The oil painting workshops vary based on the length of time purchased. In 8 hours, each student will be introduced to the general properties of oil paint and safety when using mineral spirits and mediums. The 8-hour workshop focuses heavily on techniques, tools, and process. To begin, students create a 5-step value chart between black and white. This will be a reference and will help provide a low stakes intro to mixing and brushing paint. Next students will create four examples of painting treatments (from smooth to impasto). We will talk about the use of transparency (glazing) versus direct painting. Examples of historical and contemporary paintings will be presented to visualize and breakdown the process of a painting. With the help of a color wheel, students will learn how to match colors to a printed reference. A short introduction to color theory will supplement the process of learning how to mix colors. To conclude the workshop students will be given a well-lit portrait photo reference to paint from. In class we will begin the 9” x 12” painting by transferring the image using the grid method. The remaining steps for the painting will be demonstrated and a guide will be given for students to complete the painting outside of the course.


In 16 hours, students will finalize and receive in-depth feedback on their final painting from the 8-hour course. From there I will guide them through a presentation of style and surface quality in oil painting. Using my own work alongside documentation of historical and contemporary painters we will talk about the differences and possibilities when working with this medium. We will discuss the tendencies of canvas and how to construct stretcher bars at home. The primary focus of this second block of 8 hours is to create an 11" x 14" painting using glazing techniques which builds an image from a traditional grisaille all the way to a saturated color painting. This exercise will provide time to gain further insight into color harmony, value structures, and composition. An in-depth review/feedback/critique of this painting is available as a way of closing the workshop here.


In 24 hours, students will take what they developed in the first 16 hours and apply it towards an 18" x 24" painting on cradled board. A short discussion about building cradled board as painting supports will happen first. Then I will have a prepared presentation regarding concept in art. Essentially we will talk about the why in art. Why do we make the art we make? How do our ideas relate to similar ideas expressed in the art world/art history? To preserve time I will ask that students consider these questions prior to this block of 8 hours. The first step for this large and final painting is to create thumbnail sketches. We will also do a small color study and then work together through the large painting. A feedback session will close out this workshop. 


Goals of the Oil Painting Workshop

The goal of the oil painting workshop is to provide students with varying painting experience an opportunity to receive guidance on this particular medium. As the instructor, my goal is to ensure each student finds a sense of confidence in their journey with oil painting. No matter which level of time students invest in, they will learn how to use the tools to paint. Along with material facility I will aim to provide them with a deeper understanding of color, composition, and process-oriented learning. As with all of my courses the goal is to achieve progress in one's process first, the need to create a finished "product" should be secondary. Each student will hopefully feel a sense of appreciation and intrigue towards developing their oil painting skills further when the finish an oil painting workshop. 

Step 3. Below you will find my workshop packages priced per student which includes the amount of time, hourly rate, and the cost if materials are provided by me. Currently the times presented are fixed and non-negotiable. Prices do not include tax. All courses must be paid in full one month prior to the first lesson (if materials are provided by me). If materials are not included in your course, then full payments must be received two weeks prior to the first lesson. Prices do not include cost of travel or lodging if applicable.


#Lessons/Days/Total Time                          Materials Not Included          Materials Included

Drawing Workshop                                      $20/hr                                         $28/hr



2 lessons (weekend 2 days 8 hrs)                 $160                                             $224

4 lessons (once a week 8hrs)                        $160                                             $224

8 lessons (once a week 16hrs)                       $320                                            $448


Gouache Painting Workshop                      $25/hr                                         $35/hr


2 lessons (weekend 2 days 8 hrs)                 $160                                             $280

4 lessons (once a week 8hrs)                        $160                                             $280

8 lessons (once a week 16hrs)                       $320                                            $560


Oil Painting Workshop                                $30/hr                                         $45/hr


2 lessons (weekend 2 days 8 hrs)                 $240                                             $360

4 lessons (once a week 8hrs)                        $240                                             $360

8 lessons (once a week 16hrs)                       $480                                             $720

12 lessons (once/twice a week 24hrs)          $720                                              $1080

The max group size for a workshop is 5 students. If more than one student is interested in studying at the same time the additional price per student is 50% of the base price. For example if 3 students want to take 2 gouache lessons with materials provided the total cost for the group is $560 ($186/person). 


Step 4. If you have decided you would like to take a workshop, sign someone else up for one, or learn more, then please contact me directly at h.acuna45@gmail.com. The subject of your email should read "Teaching Workshop Inquiry"

In the email body please include the following information:

1. Full Name (student and/or guardian) + Where you reside? How you discovered my workshops?

2. What is the student's experience with art education? 

3. What medium are you inquiring about for a workshop?

4. How many hours is the student considering signing up for?

5. Would the student prefer to provide their own materials or have them provided for an extra cost?

6. Is the student interested in taking this course/workshop with anyone else? If another student wants the same course would you (student) be interested in studying alongside someone you do not know? (reduced fees would apply)

7. Is the student comfortable taking this course in my studio? Would they rather have lessons at a different location such as their own home? (extra fees may apply)

8. What is the flexibility of the students schedule? (consistent weekly times are preferred)

9. Would the student be interested in purchasing more sessions in the future?

10. Is the student comfortable with me sharing imagery/videos of them studying for promotional content online or in print? (optional)

That's all I need to understand your inquiry and gather a clear idea about what you're interested in. Please feel free to add any other important details in your email regarding your interest or concerns about a workshop. I will respond within 24 hours unless I'm away from my studio and access to wifi. Once we have agreed to the terms of a workshop, I will forward a contract to be signed by the client/student prior to the start of the first lesson. Each student/guardian will be asked to review a contract to sign alongside their payment for the course.  Depending on the circumstances, payments are refundable up to 50% at the end of the course agreed upon. If a student decides to cancel their study prior to the end of the course payments are non-refundable. Student/client satisfaction is a priority that I take very seriously. At any time please contact me if there is a problem with your course. Thank you for your interest!


"Hector is an exceptional artist and teacher. The instruction, guidance and feedback I received in Hector's drawing course helped me to see space differently and draw with confidence."


"Hector truly taught me valuable art and design fundamentals that I still incorporate in my work and always keep in mind whenever I'm designing. His guidance and dedication to both teaching and his students shined through when he constantly gave feedback/constructive criticism, which helped me improve my skills that I am very appreciative for today."