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.

pastel drawing

In this course, students will learn to create richly coloured artwork with the chalk type of pastels. Our subjects will range from flowers and still life to people, animals, and landscape. Over the course of the 8 weeks, students will learn a variety of pastel application techniques and experiment with different paper surfaces to explore the variety that the medium has to offer.

information covered

  • Types of chalk pastels: Form factor- stick or pencil. Variation of hardness according to brand. Choices in using one type vs another.
  • Paper: Pastel mat, pastel card, velour, and Ingres to name a few. Each surface provides different opportunities for manipulating and building up colour and tone with the medium.
  • Application techniques: Using blending, layering, and hatching to build your surface.
  • Additional Tools: using blending stumps, brushes, and water to manipulate the medium.
  • Colour and the pastel medium: understanding colour range and the limits of mixing and tonal variation with chalk pastels
  • Realistic effects: Creating volume and light through rendering and colour control
  • The Munsell System of Colour: Understanding colour space through the qualities of hue, value, and chroma.
  • Material Handling: Impressionist and realist approaches to colour and form.
  • How to: Students will learn how to use pastel to represent a variety of different surfaces, such as flowers, fur, skin, clouds, water etc.


Students will complete both exercises and finished artworks which put theory into practice. Students can expect to complete at least three finished pieces utilizing different types of paper, pastels, and application techniques. Subject matter for these works can be chosen by the student.

figure drawing
(live model)

Working with a variety of live models, students will learn all the techniques for drawing realistic figure drawings with an eye towards anatomical accuracy and form.

Please note that the models will be nude unless otherwise stated as being costumed figure references.

This course is open to beginners and intermediate students alike and will very much be a “how to” of the figure drawing process. Drawing people in a life like manner is hard and so often in figure drawing courses, precious little (if any) instruction is given on any step by step process to tackle the complexity of the subject. This workshop will break down the complexity of drawing a live figure and give students a road map of what to do at each stage of the drawing process.

This is not a “30 second gesture drawing, figure it out yourself” kind of class. We’ll give you the knowledge and plan, you just have to bring the focus, practice, and determination.

information covered

  • How to start: Should you start at the head? The feet? Scribble a line of action? Measure out how many heads tall the model is? So many questions… we’ll give you answers. Although there isn’t one right way to begin, we’ll give you some solid options so that you can choose what works best for you and makes the most sense to start your figure drawing.
  • Proportions and Anatomical Landmarks: Having a grasp of the size relationships of the different parts of the body is important. Students will learn about artistic proportions and anatomical landmarks artists use as helping guidelines to represent the complexity of the human form.
  • Gesture: we’ve all thought it before- why does my figure drawing look like a stiff robot? If that’s ever been a problem, then we can offer the solution to that issue through our detailed explanations on what needs to be considered in capturing the natural grace of the human body. Understanding the relationships between different compenents of the body and how they interact with each other in movement is essential. Students will receive training on what to look out for and how to present what they see in drawing.
  • Anatomy and Structure: Students will receive basic knowledge of human anatomy through class lectures, model demonstrations, and analysis of works of art. Being able to spout off all the names of the muscles isn’t vital, but having an understanding of their structure can go a long way to establishing a realistic depiction of human form. We’ll look at the major components of the human body to understand their structure and how to draw them spacially in perspective on our paper.
  • Linework and Rendering: the human body is an immensly subtle set of parts. Understanding how linework can help to convey (or kill) the living quality of a drawing is important. With a knowledge of structure and anatomy, students will be better positioned to portray the contours of the body with line variation to represent overlapping forms. Once structure is established, it’s time to create volume with tonal mapping of bone, muscles, fascia, and fat. No easy task, but with an understanding of how light interacts with three-dimensional form, observational interpretation becomes a reachable goal.


Each week students will work with live models set up on a platform with an optimally positioned light source. The model will take a variety of poses but please note that apart from shorter (15 minute) warm up exercises, the emphasis of this course is on long-pose figure drawing. One pose will span two classes so that students can develop their skills of observation and gain a better understanding of representing human form. The mediums used will be graphite or charcoal depending on the preference of the student. Students will work on A2 sized paper in order to have a large enough format for detailed anatomical description.