Teacher Stories: Gabrielle DeCesaris

Meet Gabrielle DeCesaris, a Portrait Artist who teaches a highly rated online Skillshare class called Start Drawing: Techniques for Pencil Portraits. Gabrielle has enrolled over 400 students worldwide and hopes to record the beauty of life in her art for others to enjoy.

I have loved art for as long as I can remember. As a child I always had a sketchbook with me, drawing anything and everything in it whenever I could. In high school though I got really inspired to start drawing portraits in particular. It amazes me how we are all generally the same, but among all of us there is endless variation to our features. This, along with the pure beauty of the human form, has fueled my passion for portrait art.

When I first set out to learn how to draw portraits, I really struggled. I remember saying, "When I "get" this, I'm going to teach everyone how to do it!" After years of studying with professional portrait artists, reading tons of books on how to draw the face, and by drawing hundreds of portraits myself - I've now gained a lot of knowledge on the subject and I am ready to share the most helpful information I’ve discovered with anyone willing to learn!

In my Skillshare class, I guide students through the process of drawing a human portrait through videos, images, and easy to follow project steps. First I share the materials I like to use as well as how to pick the best reference photos. Then I start sketching and I demonstrate how to accurately draw a portrait using gesture and correct proportions. I then share the knowledge I've learned on the planes of the face and light and shade. Blending and shading techniques are of course covered. Then I show how I draw the eyes, nose, mouth, ears, and hair and all the common mistakes one should try to avoid when drawing these features. Finally, I teach students how to make their drawings really special with finishing touches and all along the way I share tips, tricks, and techniques I've learned over the past several years.

I really tried to share every piece of helpful information I could think of in my class. I didn’t want to hold back. I wanted to create a class that I wished I had had when I was first trying to learn to draw pencil portraits. So that would be my advice to teachers- Get into the mind of the student. What would you want to learn? Then be open with your knowledge and eager to share and your students will be thankful for it!

My favorite elements of the class experience are seeing the whole thing come together and seeing the students reaction to it. Nothing makes me happier than when I see that someone is having a great time learning and improving their art skills. It’s really a pleasure and I’m honored to have helped them along on their artistic journey.

I’m so happy I had the opportunity to teach on Skillshare. Because Skillshare gives a great percent of the profits to the teachers, I’ve been able to buy some beautiful new linen art canvases that I’d been holding back on before! Having these new art materials, which are some of the best for oil painting, will really help propel my artwork in oils. And for that I am thankful to Skillshare and to all the awesome people who signed up for my class! Being a part of the Skillshare community has been wonderful and I feel so blessed to be a teacher. Every day I look forward to checking the Student Projects area and leaving feedback on all the artists’ amazing portraits!