Oil

Peter teaches oil painting — “it is the most sumptuous of all mediums”.

As noted throughout the website we pride ourselves on trying to be as flexible as possible and what follows is a general account of how an introductory course on ‘alla prima’ (in one) oil painting might go.

I like to work direct from life and so usually start off with an exercise to introduce some basic  tips about observational drawing. This will aid you in getting off to a good start when we eventually commit to paint. Although easier to correct than water colour, you want to avoid having to make a major correction to your composition after you have committed to a lot of paint. This prevents colours turning to mud and helps keep the painting looking fresh and vital.

Having covered the rudiments of drawing what you see, I then like to move onto exploring tone. Again it’s important to understand how to see tone before you begin to work with colour. I like to introduce charcoal at this stage. It is a medium sympathetic to oil painting,both in the way that it can be handled, and in the approach you can adopt when develop the drawing.

We move on to the equipment, materials and paints that we are going to use when we start the actual oil painting. Then we decided on the subject matter, and I invite you to do a quick thumbnail sketch (using the skill sets you have just learned). This helps to get you ‘eye-in’, and then together we can evaluate the merits or pitfalls of the composition you have chosen . Now we can prepare our ground (what we are going to paint on). This usually means staining it with a covering of weak acrylic and I explain the pros and cons of making this decision. Finally we are ready to put brush to canvas.

I follow a simple mnemonic that means, no matter how daunting the subject, you can break it down into four basic steps. At each step I give detailed instruction on what we are looking to achieve in this stage, mention best practices, and where required, offer a demonstration showing how I might interpret the instruction in a particular case. Remember painting is an Art and the ‘rules’ are a just a means to an end — they are to be stretched, ignored and often broken. Painting is a very parallel process and the steps I have given provide just a one way to think about progressing a painting, you should follow your instinct, and if you get stuck, come back and hook into the process again.

Happy painting!