Artist Leslie Johnson Teaching VGCC Portrait Painting Class

Vance-Granville Community College will again offer a “Portrait Painting” personal enrichment art class on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. until noon, March 7 through May 9. Classes will be held in room 5223 (Building 5) on the college’s Main Campus in Vance County.

Leslie Johnson of Oxford, instructor for the course, has been teaching art classes like this one for VGCC for more than 20 years. She studied the arts at UNC-Greensboro. Her career as a piano teacher and art instructor gave her a well-rounded background to help guide her students. “I’ve seen heartwarming progress in our portrait classes,” Johnson said. “I invite new students, no matter your level of experience, to join us this semester. If you’re interested, you should sign up by February 22, because space is limited.”

Johnson is also an accomplished professional artist herself. She has sold many portraits to customers over the past 40 years, with some of her artwork now hanging in homes not only in North Carolina but in other states and even in Europe. She prefers to focus on her students than on her own achievements, however.

“Over the years, there have been many artists who have taken this course,” Johnson said. “In 2016, a portrait by one of my students, Lydia Powell, won first place in the juried exhibition at VGCC’s Fine Arts Day celebration.” Carla Gannis, a former student, is currently assistant chairperson of digital arts at the Pratt Institute in New York City. Her artwork has been on exhibit in many European countries, as well as across the United States.

Johnson’s goal is for each student to paint at least one oil portrait by the time he or she completes the course. They might choose a spouse, a child, a grandchild, a friend or a pet as their subject. She notes that new students are sometimes reluctant to try portrait painting. “But when they work at it and find they can do it, they find it very rewarding and don’t want to stop,” she said. Johnson added that typically, more experienced painters in her classes are quick to help the beginners, creating a fun, friendly atmosphere.

The cost of the class is $80.

Registration can be completed online at or at any VGCC campus. For information on registration and on the supplies required for the class, contact Gail Clark at (252) 738-3385 or