Each new class we offer has a specific set of learning goals to help students improve their artistic skills.

Scroll down to see what you’ll learn.

historical painting techniques

Historical painting techniques

In this class, students will learn all about traditional oil painting mediums and paint application methods. Alongside this we’ll learn about various types of brushes, painting surfaces, and indirect painting techniques that can be used to create sophisticated works of art based on the materials and methods of the great masters of the past.

information covered

  • Mediums: oils, varnishes, solvents, wax, putty and powdered additives. What they do and how to use them in a painting medium.
  • Brushes: Shapes, bristle types, applications during the painting process. What brush to use and how to get specific handling qualities or effects.
  • Surfaces/Supports: canvas, linen, wood, and their priming. How to prepare them and their effect on the painting process and outcome of the work.
  • Traditional paint application techniques: opaque, transparent, blending, broken colour, and multi-layered colour effects based on documented traditional methods.
  • Underpainting techniques: grisailles, ebauches, wipe outs, dead colouring. How to use them to construct a work through “indirect” painting methods.
  • Specialized traditional techniques: Glazing, velaturas, sfumato, impasto. Learn what these fancy terms mean and how to use them to create variety in your oil paintings.


We will be covering a lot of material in this course so the emphasis will be on understanding materials and process as opposed to focusing on creating one finished masterpiece. Students are expected to take notes, document their process through our exercises, and apply this body of knowledge to their own studio practice.

colour theory

In this workshop students will learn to take control over their colour mixing, matching, and design. Many systems have been developed to teach colour and we’ll take a quick look at the history of colour theory until we settle on the Munsell System of Colour which we will use throughout the course. Unmatched in it’s logic and simplicity, we’ll get to know the system’s workings and how to use hue, value, and chroma to take control of our colour choices. Paint manufacturers offer dozens of colour options for the artist. This course will guide you in understanding how to incorporate any tube you might buy into your palette, and will address if it’s even necessary to have dozens of paint tubes in your paint kit (hint: it’s not). Through in-class exercises and analysis of great works of art, we will explore colour schemes, temperature relationships, and how to harness colour to enhance the realism and artistic vitality of your paintings.

information covered

  • The history of colour theory and an introduction to the Munsell System
  • Hue, value, and chroma: the identifiers of colour description.
  • Colour matching, a systematic approach: Learn in a logical and precise way how to mix any colour that you want.
  • Understanding palettes: There is no one right range of colours that an artist needs to use in order to successfully manage colour in their paintings. We’ll look at a range of different palette options one might choose and help you decide which one is best suited for your artistic purposes.
  • What’s in that tube?: Learn how to choose your colours based on a knowledge of pigment properties.: Learn how to choose your colours based on a knowledge of pigment properties.
  • Colour scheme basics: Triads, analogous colours, warm/cool, split compliments etc. We’ll explore these basics to make sure they’re solid in your understanding.
  • Colour Gamuts: Making a conscious choice regarding a picture’s colour range through gamut mapping helps an artist to choose which colours to utilize and importantly which colours to leave out of a work.
  • Controlling colour for realistic painting: When modelling form, there’s a light side of an object and a side that’s in shadow. How do you make a colour darker or lighter to show this without having it go haywire? We’ll learn how to “control the local” so that there’s colour constancy across a rendered form.
  • Impressionistic colour effects: No doubt about it, impressionistic colour effects can be very exciting to look at in a painting. Learn how to amplify colours, or logically deviate from reality using some tricks out of the impressionist playbook.
  • Learn how to observe colour: We’ll learn to use a conceptual approach to observing colour so that decisions about light, shadow, the colour of objects, and reflected light all make sense and work together.


All classwork will be based on direct observation or analysis of great works of art. For those of you that are more comfortable with working from photographs, we’ll wrap up the workshop with some practical tips for making better artistic interpretations of this kind of reference. Throughout the course we will work with a variety of still life reference and light sources to hone your colour observation, mixing, and handling skills. The work created during the workshop will consist of: 1. A colour map to gain clarity of where our paint tube choices fit in colour space. 2. Poster studies to learn how basic, first impression colour sketches are vital to the artistic process. 3. Daily exercises covering: observational colour matching, form modelling, warm and cool light sources, realistic vs impressionistic colour interpretation, gamut mapping, and reflected light. Colour studies of master works by great artists.

portrait sculpture
(live model)

In this class, students will work with water based clay to create portrait sculptures from a live model. This class is open to everyone, even if you have never sculpted before. Students will receive detailed instruction of modeling techniques and the tools used by sculptors to create three dimensional form.
Throughout the lessons, students will receive group instruction on the anatomy of the human head and creating the features of the face with clay.

information covered

  • Building a Sculpture Armature: Students will begin the sculpting process by creating a wire armature to support their work (each finished portrait sculpture will be approximately 30cm tall)
  • Working with water-based clay: There are many different types of clay- porcelain, polymer, plasticene and ceramic. For this course we will use ceramic clay since it is the easiest to mold and offers great flexibility depending on how wet or dry it is. Students will begin their experience with “sculpting in the round” with this versatile medium and create basic simple forms with an eye to correctness of volume from all viewing angles.
  • Using tools to establish and refine three dimensional forms: The use of files, rakes, shaping tools, chisels, sponges, and loops will all be covered.
  • Initial volume statement: Students will learn how to work from a broadly generalized base of blocky volume relationships. Without the correctness of this underlying structure, no amount of details is going to improve the work.
  • Anatomical Proportions: Students will learn the size relationships of the different parts of the human face and learn how to measure and translate those proportions into their sculpted form.
  • Developing further – defining features: how to sculpt the eyes, nose, mouth, ears, facial structure, and hair.
  • Refining techniques: Sculpting details and refining the clay surface to make it smoother.


Students will create one portrait sculpture (approx 30cm tall) over the course of the workshop. We will be working with one live model for 7 sessions but will begin the first class learning how to build an armature and the basics of sculpture techniques without the model present. Please note: we will not be casting the sculptures in plaster. Students may keep their work but it will need to be covered in order to prevent it from drying out and cracking.