Friday, 9 November 2018

Drawing and Oils workshop, summer 2018

It's amazing what can be acheived in five days. In the summer I held a five day oils workshop, and wished I'd made it ten! With students from a mixture of backgrounds, from nervous novice to experienced-but-tentative and others who were working on previously-started paintings, my challenge was to stretch each individual and ensure that they left with much more knowledge and understanding than they had when they arrived. And it was such fun! 

Christine's set-up
Some students voice apprehension about a five day workshop, worrying if they will be too tired. In my experience, students ARE tired, but in the most satisfying and rewarding way, with many reporting incredibly deep sleep each night allowing an enthusiasm to get back to work again the next morning. 

Christine, working on the study drawing in prep for her painting)
We got so much work done - looking back, I am so proud of how hard the students worked. They began by selecting from a range of objects I'd provided and setting up an arrangement - and learning just how to DO that - then spent the day learning how to draw it. 
Judy's first-day drawing study
Over the next couple of days we moved on to charcoal, some grey chalks, an afternoon of portrait drawing with a model, then students choose another set of objects to create an arrangement to paint in oils. 
Judy's portrait study
Claire, modelling her fabulous chalk study of a torso
And even though the plan was to paint, student had to draw their arrangement first, lovingly and with sincere conviction. The more infomation we can 'draw' from the subject in pencil/charcoal before we get the paints out, the more familiar it will be, the better we understand the forms, nuances and light, and the more we can concentrate on the actual paint when we move on to canvas.
Judy's prep for her final painting
Judy's charcoal study
Christine and Judy, working back-to-back!
Christine's work in  progress - great drawing, great oil painting!

Claire's set up, her delicious drawing in prep for her final painting 
Claire's painting in progress
Claire's painting
Judy at work
Judy's finished painting
The only thing we didn't get to was working in colour. While this had been my original plan, in conversations with students as the week went on, we decided together that more drawing and more time spent perfecting the black and white painting was going to empower students more than rushing through an even greater number of works. Student learning is paramount. So next year, I'll make the workshop longer, so we can really get more done!
Judy, very happy with her painting

You can see in the photo above that each student's work space includes a black shelving unit. This is one of the most efficient pieces of equipment in the studio - lots of personal storage as well as a variety of height-options for arranging a still life subject. Putting bags in the bottom is less of a trip hazard and fewer items get lost! 

I got this lovely letter from one of the students after this workshop:

Thank you for a fabulous week of drawing and painting - I enjoyed it so so much and  have to confess  that on the first day when I found out that two others were art teachers I panicked a little but they were both so lovely that very quickly I felt we were all there learning together  and I didn't feel in any way inferior.   I learned more in one week with you than I ever learned at school art classes or the many and various evening classes I've been to over the years.  You made everything so clear and made me realise that slow and steady is so much more enjoyable and rewarding than racing to get to the finished piece.  Thankyou for your patience, humour, support and encouragement .  Thankyou for the wonderful hospitality, delicious lunches and for keeping us well topped up with tea and biscuits!! C. McC. 

For info on future workshops please email 

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