Ever wanted to improve your skills with oil painting? Ever wanted to experiment with oils but were not sure where to begin?
I was fortunate enough to be able to undertake the beginner’s art course. I have painted with Oils before but have been largely self-taught. I also follow the traditional method of painting in layers building up tonal elements as each layer dried. I had picked up a few things over the years but had always wanted some affirmation that I was doing the right thing.
Robin paints mostly using an “Alla Prima” method, where the practitioner can obtain a largely finished work by using pigment wet onto the surface, layering wet oil onto wet oil.
The was held in the DCW studios on the 3rd floor of the Myer Centre in the city. There was plenty of parking available, but I could have just as easily caught a bus or train into the city. We could also purchase any of the paints and materials we liked right there, though I brought my own.
The day long course started with us learning a bit of theory, and Robin’s personal thoughts and painting style. The subject matter was to be viewed in terms of Value (light and dark) and Temperature (hue).
We each were supplied with a painting station with a small light box that housed a directional light and an easel with some primed boards for painting.
The thing I liked most about the course was the set up of the room.
We had several large screens in front of us where we could watch Robin mixing his paint live on his palette and a big screen where we could watch him apply it to the board.
There were no bad seats as everyone was able to watch him demonstrate the exercises.
Robin can paint and talk so we were free to ask people questions as he was producing the work. This was very entertaining and we learned a lot at each stage in the production of the painting.
As we approached each exercise Robin did it ahead of us and then we had time to try out the technique as he walked around the room and offered some help, advice or encouragement.
We also had plenty of time for breaks and to chat with other people doing the course.
Starting with the application of tone we worked in black and white, blending paint to create a sphere. It was wonderful to work from dark to light- kind of the opposite of what I had been taught which was to work from light to dark in a shape.
We then replicated the process using a few coloured paints picking out the subtle tints in the form and practising blending these hues in our shape.
The final painting was of an apple where we took on the challenge of accurately rendering an apple as realistically as possible. I was actually very surprised at how well everyone was able to do this.
It was great to walk around and look at other people’s paintings as I grabbed a coffee.
Before we knew it the day was over and it was time to pack up our paintings and head off.
After this course, I felt much more confident to approach the larger 5-day course that was on offer. I will be definitely looking to complete this course next time!
At home, I have started painting a few studies to get my skills up.
Thank you, Robin Eley!
Links to Robin Eley