Welcome to the Passionate Painter Academy Affordable On-Demand Art Courses

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Whether you're looking for a complete masterclass or individual trainings, there's something for everyone.

The Portrait Code contains all the other courses in one complete masterclass for a fantastic price. And, if you're looking for specific, focused you'll find them on:

  • The fundamentals of design
  • Composition
  • Perspective
  • Color theory
  • Anatomy of the head and proportion of the head and body
  • Identifying and mixing skin tones
  • Stand-alone portrait demonstration

You'll also find two bundles for great savings:

  • Design + Composition
  • Perspective + Color Theory
The Portrait Code offers a 30-day money-back guarantee; restrictions apply.

Your Satisfaction is My Priority

Each of my courses is backed by my  30-Day no questions asked money-back guarantee. If for any reason you are unhappy with your purchase, send an email to me at Caroline@passionatepainteracademy.com for a full refund. Naturally, if there's anything I can do to answer your questions and provide the information you need to keep the course and benefit from it, I will do my best to provide that for you. But ultimately, the choice is yours. Please note, once you receive a refund, access to the course and course material will end.

Do you have moments of intense inspiration you later dismiss before putting pencil to paper or brush to canvas? Do you hold back from expressing yourself as an artist completely and honestly because of negative self-talk that tells you your ideas are foolish, or they've been done before, or someone else could or has done them better?

Well, stop it.

YOU are unique, you are beautiful, and there's no one else out there who can bring your light to the world but you. This is the reason I teach art, and it's the reason I created These affordable on-demand online courses. Get as much — or as little instruction as you need, without the fear-factor. Who's in charge of your painting? YOU ARE.

And I'm right here beside you. Not only can you hear me cheering you on through my Passionate Painter Podcast, but you can actually reach me with questions via the course dashboard. I believe in you and I am here for you.

Screen image of The Portrait Code online oil painting lesson
Screen image of The Portrait Code online oil painting lesson

I created my new online course, The Portrait Code, for all the painters out there who, like me, needed a thorough review of the foundational principles of painting — or needed something more from their painting instruction, something they felt was missing from their "school days."

Each module of the portrait code is a mini-course I would have loved to have had in my studio class days, to tie together what I learned in the studio with my art history, 2-D design classes, and anatomy studies.

My mission is to bring you a pain-free course to "connect the portrait painting dots" while building your confidence.

Over the years, I've noticed recurring themes among my painting students about portraiture. Many want to learn it, but they're scared.

  • They think they can't learn to paint portraits; as if it's reserved for people born with some elusive "portrait gene."
  • hey look at all the other talented artists around them and shut their ambition down before they even get out of the gate.
  • And, if they do paint a portrait that is well-received, they think it must be a fluke.

This often makes them even more scared to try again, because if they fail, they might prove their prior success was a fluke.

Well, I'm here to tell you your progress is NOT a fluke. Let me show you how you can grow your skills while gaining confidence.

It's time to call yourself a portrait painter

Learn how to push right through your fear and take on portrait painting with an approach that will enable you to take your portrait skills to new levels. Click on the button above to see the modules and purchase options.

Click on the webinar replay below for a FREE lesson on how to correct five portrait painting mistakes. You'll get a feel for my teaching style and learn more about me and my online classes.

Available in a Portrait Masterclass or Individual Spotlight Courses for painters of, well, anything!


We all know that it’s what’s inside that counts. This has never been more true than with portrait painting.

One of the struggles my students come to me with is how to paint the head as if it has volume. That’s why I’ve included a robust module on anatomy in The Portrait Code.

I’ll take you beneath the surface for a tour of the structure you need to understand to paint portraits. Rather than dreading anatomy, I encourage students to see these anatomy and proportion lessons for what they are: a roadmap. A solid understanding of the skeletal structure and musculature and muscle of the face is your roadmap to painting your best portraits. It will help guide you when you get stuck.


You can also purchase many of the individual modules as spotlight courses at incredible prices! Each spotlight course comes with the bonus materials that accompany that module, and all courses come with the sketchbook prompts eBook.

If you want the painting demonstration by itself without the other 8 modules, you can purchase that by itself and still get all the downloadable eBooks and funsheets to help you apply what you've learned.

So, there's something for everyone. As always, feel free to send me comments and questions at caroline@passionatepainteracademy.com.

If you're like a lot of us...

You've Probably Always Had the Fire to Create. Let's face it, do you know any artist who tells you they make art even though they don't want to?

And most of us would love to become famous for our artwork. Rich wouldn't be bad either...

You've probably been "doodling since you could hold a crayon and probably got caught more than once drawing in class instead of taking notes (come on, I know I'm not alone).

Somewhere along the line, you probably got hold of a sketchbook. And you may have opened up that beautiful book full of excitement, only to freeze in your tracks staring at the pristine white pages.

If you managed to move into painting, you may be among those of us who always wanted to paint portraits, but thought that was reserved for people born with the "elusive portrait gene."

Or you may have looked at all the other talented artists around you and shut your ambition down before you even get out of the gate (Instagram, anyone?)

And, if you did paint a portrait that was well-received, you may have thought it must have been a fluke.

You probably feel stuck because you still love the idea of making beautiful portraits, but you've stalled out so often or for so long that you don't know how to get back off the ground.

The Good News is...

You CAN learn to paint portraits. Even if you're just starting out in painting. In fact, you'll have less to unlearn! Don't let being new to painting keep you from jumping into portraiture.

If you paint already but somehow feel "banned" from the realm of portraiture, jump in with me. We're going to talk about why painting portraits is no different than painting anything else.

Find out how living the principles of the portrait code will pave the way for you to go from, "I wish" to "I am."

Close up of Haven's portrait showing her eyes, oils
St. Helena, oil on wood panel
Detail of oil painting, broken window by Caroline Italia Carlson

Now Available from Passionate Painter Academy The Portrait Code Masterclass and Individual Spotlight Courses

Caroline Italia Carlson

Meet Caroline

I've been a fine artist and digital designer for over 25 years. As an empath, I live to encourage others to find their happy place in their studios through my Passionate Painter Podcast and workshops.

As the daughter of two entrepreneurs, I'm also on a mission to help other fine artists reach their goal of making a living as a fine artist.


aroline Italia Carlson is a fine artist, media specialist, and the owner of Caroline Italia, a digital agency that provides web and print design, podcasting services and instruction, audio and video editing, and copywriting. She is also the creator and host of the Passionate Painter Podcast.

Caroline has shown her fine art in galleries across the country, including exhibits in SoHo, NYC. She has won numerous awards for her drawings, paintings, and photographs.

A New Yorker, Caroline is the daughter of a craftsman and an artist; both were entrepreneurs and her role models. After studying fine art and science for two years at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Caroline completed her bachelor of art degree in visual art and a minor in art history at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. After college, she relocated to New Jersey and studied illustration and graphic design at the Joe Kubert School, digital design at Morris County School of Technology, and web development at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Throughout her own career, Caroline has continued the development of her skills through the AQUENT Springboard web design and development program in Boston, MA, Seth Godin's Marketing Seminar, Amy Porterfield's Digital Course Academy, and Marie Forleo's B-School. Caroline is a voracious reader and perpetual learner. She continues to study fine art, marketing, and business. She will graduate from Full Sail University with a Media Design MFA in July of 2024.

Early in her career, Caroline cut her teeth in the pressure cooker of East Coast marketing firms, where the creative energy and intense deadlines refined her talents and honed her work ethic.

Upon moving to the West Coast in 1999, Caroline began art directing magazines and did a deep dive into web design using HTML, CSS, and WordPress. Her California years included almost a decade serving as creative director and volunteer for Living Free Animal Sanctuary, a non-profit animal rescue in the San Jacinto mountains.

In 2013, Caroline relocated to central Wisconsin with her family. There, she applied her wide range of traditional and digital art skills in both the corporate environment and remotely through her own small business.

Caroline's contributions to the art, design, and marketing communities are varied and prolific. In 2017, while working as Director of Marketing and Creative Design for the National Wellness Institute, she made her foray into podcasting. She launched the Passionate Painter Podcast in 2019, a platform that has since provided education, inspiration, and encouragement to artists worldwide. Her audience continues to grow, and the show remains a beacon of joy and community for her.

In 2020, Caroline and her family embarked on a new chapter, making their long-anticipated relocation to picturesque Upper Michigan. This move, driven by a desire to return to her husband's hometown, reflects Caroline's adventurous spirit and willingness to embrace new challenges.

In 2022, Caroline launched her online portrait masterclass, The Portrait Code, also available in individual spotlight bundles for fine artists. She also embarked on a new adventure, working as a media specialist for Island Resort & Casino in Harris, Michigan, which, in her words, "Is a blast."

As mid-2024 approaches, Caroline celebrates the homeschool graduation of her high schooler and looks forward to attaining her MFA in July.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Courses


The Portrait Code is also the name of a combination of three principles that help artists get and stay in a mindset to help you succeed as a portrait painter.

The course is for beginner-to-intermediate artists who want to feel confident painting portraits while they hone their skills as efficiently as possible. It consists of video modules of Caroline providing instruction while speaking to you through the camera, through on-camera demonstrations, or in video lessons with instructional content such as images, animations, and text with voice-over.

The Portrait Code (TPC) self-paced online portrait painting course and the stand-alone spotlight courses are available now at passionatepainteracademy.com.

The Portrait Code will show you exactly how to create your portraits. But that's not all. The Portrait Code will also provide a robust module on building your confidence as an artist, plus seven foundational modules to help you become a better painter — no matter what your subject. The modules include the fundamentals of design, composition, perspective, color theory, anatomy, and mixing non-muddy skin tones. This is the course to give you the building blocks and the encouragement to use them.

By the end of the course, you will:

  • Be able to tackle portraits with confidence
  • Know how to approach setting up your studio space, lighting your model, composing your painting, and transferring your drawing, in addition to painting the portrait
  • Start your portraits with confidence, check your progress along the way, catch yourself if you drift off-course, and get back on track.
  • Have a system for pricing your portraits and keeping track of your time. You'll also have samples of portraiture contracts and model releases you can use to help you protect your art business pursuits.

Each stand-alone spotlight course has been pulled from this masterclass, and you will learn the topic of focus in that particular class. You can view all lessons for each course in their corresponding information page. To get there, click on the course you are interested in on the grid square for that course.

There are approximately 12 hours of instruction in The Portrait Code Masterclass, between nine modules of content and over 50 lessons. My aim is to provide you with the instruction, encouragement, and support to go as fast as you want to, but as slow as you need to in order to reach your goals.

The individual Spotlight courses vary in length, and average 20 to 90 minutes of video, with the exception of the stand-alone portrait demonstration, which is 3.5 hours.

All courses are available now via the Teachable online course platform. Once you purchase your course, you will have lifelong access.

This course comes with a money-back guarantee. If you choose to return the course, access to the materials will end at that time.

Yes, when you enroll in The Portrait code or any of the online spotlight courses, you'll get immediate lifetime access to the lessons through your course dashboard. The course is self-paced, so you can go as fast as you want and as slow as you need to! 

I will be adding to the resources module so can access the bonus materials in my podcast bonus vault through your dashboard. If you don't see something you're looking for, it may be that I just haven't gotten a chance to upload it yet. You can always contact me at caroline@passioantepainteracademy.com to ask for content you expect but don't see.

This course comes with a money-back guarantee. If you choose to return the course, access to the materials will end at that time.


The Portrait Code is for you if you're...

A beginner or intermediate artist with painting experience in acrylics or oils who's always wanted to expand into portraiture but has been afraid.

If you're looking for specific, targeted training, you may consider one of the shorter spotlight courses.

If you purchase the masterclass, you don't need to purchase any of the spotlight courses, as all are included in the masterclass, plus an additional module on building confidence as an artist and a module on gridding.

In addition, when you purchase the masterclass, you'll get over a dozen free bonus items to help you succeed as an artist.

While we welcome every artist who wants to advance their skills, there are a few milestones that will help you get the best results from the masterclass.

Please note, all spotlight courses can help you no matter which medium you paint in, if you apply what you've learned, with the exception of the portrait demonstration, which is geared toward oil painters. And though the identifying skin tones spotlight course can be of great help to any painter, the color mixing demonstration is done with oil paint.

We recommend holding off on purchasing the masterclass if any of the following describe where you're at in your journey as an artist:

  • You're curious about portraiture, but you still haven't actually picked up a paintbrush. TPC will give anyone who watches the videos instruction, but to benefit from it, it's best to have some familiarity with painting, and you'll get the most out of it if you're familiar with using acrylics or oils, even if you are a beginner.

    Your mindset and your perseverance are going to truly determine what you get from this course.

    We welcome watercolor painters as well, but if you're a watercolor artist who hasn't yet used acrylics or oils, you'll need to work through the difference between these painting methods, since watercolor works with a thinner approach that uses the white of the paper as a "medium" in and of itself.

    We have no doubt that if you're an experienced watercolor painter you'll be able to learn and benefit from this course, as the first six modules can be applied to watercolor as well. We do want to let you know, however, that painting portraits in watercolor specifically is not covered in this course. 

  • If you're looking for a way to instantly become a portrait expert. There is no "magic pill." This course is intended to give you all the information and tools you need to get there, but you've got to be motivated to practice them. If you do, we have no doubt you'll be able to take your portrait painting skills to new heights.
  • If you're already an experienced portrait painter selling your work, you may not need the content in this course. It depends on what you're seeking — keep in mind that the first seven modules have foundational and instructional value to help artists advance from wherever they are standing. So, if you're selling your work but have always wanted to know more about the armatures of composition, perspective, or you've always struggled with a particular aspect of anatomy, you, too, can benefit from this course. This is not a course focused on selling your art, though masterclass students will find downloadable resources, such as a pricing formula and templates for a timesheet and model releases to help them on their path, as well as suggested links for further study of the business of art.

It truly depends.

As we've noted previously, we do recommend you have experience with painting on some level, and having done some practice using acrylics or oils is best. But some of our best students were beginners just learning "the ropes." They benefitted greatly from getting started on a solid foundation without having to "unlearn" former techniques that did not serve them.

Your mindset and your perseverance are going to truly determine what you get from this course.


The cost to enroll in The Portrait Code is $337 if you pay in full. We also offer an extended payment plan at $99.25 per month for 4 months.

The Spotlight courses vary in price according to length.

We've purposely kept the price for all the courses as affordable as possible, to provide you with in-depth instruction at a price that is within the realm of most other instructional videos.

This course, however, has been created to ensure that you are not just watching the instructor paint, only throwing out an occasional informational "gem" to the viewer. This course was created with a content-first approach, to ensure that you get instructional value throughout every module.

If you're ready to dive in and play with the concepts taught in this course, your results will only be limited by your mindset and willingness to keep showing up.

We accept all common credit cards for pay-in-full and for the 4-pay plan. We also accept payments via PayPal.

We're so confident you'll love and benefit from The Portrait Code and the individual spotlight courses, we offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can read the details here.


The answer to this is that it depends on you. The more time you devote to your skills, the faster and better they will develop. If you're painting in hopes of instantly becoming rich selling your paintings, your expectations are not likely to lead to fulfillment. One of the most important qualities of great artists is their love of the process. 

On a practical level, we suggest you devote a minimum of an hour a week to portrait painting to make strides in your skills. Again, the more time you devote regularly, the faster and the better you will become.

We also recommend you use your sketchbook as often as you can work it in to advance your drawing skills and brainstorming process. Thinking of your sketchbook as your "secret weapon" rather than an "albatross around your neck" is another key to advancing your artistic skills as quickly as possible.

All of this said, we are artists because we love to create (hopefully). A curious, playful, joyful approach to every painting session is going to get you farther than a dogged, expectation-laden approach. Keep it curious and keep it fun.

The answer is similar regarding the spotlight courses, in that you will advance to the degree you apply what you've learned.

That's going to depend in large part on what you put into it.

The Portrait Code is not a magic pill. Developing your portrait painting skills requires you to apply what you're learning by showing up in your studio. Each artist is starting from a different place, but I created this course to provide you with in-depth instruction to give you everything you need to take your skills to higher levels. 

This course does not cover the business of selling your portraits on an in-depth level and does not guarantee you will make a living selling your paintings. If that is your goal, this course will help you develop the skills to make paintings you can sell. It will also provide you with helpful downloads to move you in the right direction, such as the pricing formula and downloadable timesheet.

For artists seeking to sell their art as a business, we always suggest you continue to pursue education in all the aspects of running a small business. You can find some suggested resources in Module 10 of this course.

This course is designed with supporting you toward your goals in mind. This means:

Comments directly inside your dashboard

You'll be able to message Caroline directly if you get stuck and have a specific question.

Email for glitches

If you need technical support, don't forget you can send an email over to support@passionatepainteracademy.com, and we'll get you taken care of as quickly as possible.