INTRODUCTION TO ART CLASSES
After a few years away from the teaching I am happy to announce that my Art Classes are now back up and running as of June 2018. Please note that these classes are solely focused on oil painting, and not for those interested in learning acrylic or watercolour techniques.
There are a few things to note since the last time. The first is that I’ve moved out of Dublin city to Rathfarnham in Dublin 14. The good news is it’s well serviced by the 15b from the city, which usually takes about 30mins from the city unless you’re stuck in traffic, and also is situated in a leafy estate with plenty of parking for those of you driving.
Rathfarnham, Dublin 14
WHEN?Ok, here’s the plan for now. To begin with I’m going to start with one evening class on Tuesdays from 7-9pm, and one afternoon class on Wednesdays from 12-2pm. Once these are filled I’ll most likely add one more class depending on demand.
I’m also toying with the idea of the occasional Saturday extended painting class, or workshop, where we could really get into the thick of what can be done over the course of a 5 or 6 hour painting session. Send me off an email if you like the sound of this?
Evening art class – 7.00-9.00pm – Commencing on June 5, 2018
Afternoon art class – 12.00-2.00pm - Commencing on June 6, 2018
SATURDAY WORKSHOP - Under consideration
Maybe from 11-5pm
If these go ahead they will likely be 5 or 6 times a year.
HOW MUCH DO MY ART CLASSES COST?
AND THE ISSUE OF ATTENDANCE
Although the painting classes will run on a continuous basis they will be paid for in four week blocks at a cost of €100. Please note that if you miss a class this is still counted as part of the four weeks. Essentially you are paying to hold a seat in the class and as I usually have a waiting list, it would be unfair on me not to be paid for my time, while others would gladly take the space if given the opportunity.
Can I join mid way through a block of four classes?
Yes indeed, that’s no problem if there’s a seat free I’d be happy for you to join up mid term, and you’d only pay for what remained. If there were 3 classes left this would be 75 Euro, if 2 classes 50 Euro and 1 class 25 Euro.
In this case, if there is a free seat in the class you can ask to attend on a week by week basis? The downside of this however, would be that if another student wishes to commit to a block of classes in the meantime you would lose the seat, and have to wait for someone else to leave. However, as I'm just starting up again as of June 2018, there should be room for this flexible option for a while. Email me if you're interested. One last point to note is that sitting students will generally have first option to continue into another term.
How many students per class?
As for the number of students, classes will be much smaller than most art lessons out there. There will be 6 pupils to a class, with each student allotted a 1.2 meter or four foot table, with table easel to work with. Thus, you’ll have lots of one to one instruction, as well as a comfortable working environment.
HOW TO MAKE PAYMENT?If you're interested in signing up, the best thing to do is send me an email to check availability and/or to ask any questions; Although most things should be covered if you keep reading below.
As for the actual payments these can be made in any of three ways. By paying in Cash at the class, by paypal transfer or a bank transfer is fine too.
Again both beginners and advanced are welcome. It’s perhaps worth noting though, that I will be recommending professional quality painting equipment, which I will explain in my materials list below. Now if you already have your oil paints it’s fine to use what you have to get going, but as a general philosophy I do believe it’s good to buy the best materials you can afford.
The one other thing I have to say is that as my studio is now in the home I share with my girlfriend Kathryn, I have to be even more mindful of not getting paint everywhere. Thus, if you know your painting style is a bit messy and you tend to get paint on places besides your palette and canvas then perhaps this isn’t the class for you. Now we all have mishaps, and things accidentally fall or spill, so no worries there, but those of you who like painting with your fingers and splashing paint about, and you know who you are, you really need to find a class held in someone’s shed.
WHAT WILL YOU BE PAINTNG?
As for what you will be painting the plan will be for everyone to work on their own project from a photograph, which you will bring to the class; With this in mind it might be a good idea to start keeping an eye out for images that appeal to you now. This can be from a photograph you take yourself, or any of the wealth of images available on the internet. I find Pinterest a great resource in this regard.
Now if you're hoping to make a career of painting, and to sell work you should be mindful of copy-write issues regarding directly copying other photographers or painters work; However, if it’s just for yourself or for training purposes I wouldn't sweat it too much. Even the giants in the history of art learnt from studying other people’s work.
CAN I WORK FROM A TABLET SCREEN INSTEAD OF A PRINTED PHOTOGRAPH?I myself work from my Ipad, so feel free to work from a tablet if you like, but not a phone screen if you can help it, as this is really too small.
It’s also good to be aware that there is a danger in a class room setting, of getting paint on your device, and because of it’s weight, it’s not the easiest thing to keep in ones hand, while painting. With this in mind, it would be no harm to bring along some kind of tablet stand to make things easier, if you choose this route.
Also there are some inherent difficulties in working from a screen, such as you can’t directly match colour and tone to the screen in the same way you could to a printed photograph. On the flip side, the luminescence of the screen can provide an extended value and colour range, compared to a printed photograph. Overall, I’d say the easiest option particularly if you don’t have that much experience is to get your photo reference printed out on good quality photo paper. And at a decent size somewhere around A4 and up would be good.
WHERE WILL YOUR PAINTING BE STORED?As I mentioned in the introduction, my studio is now in my home with my girlfriend thus, as you can imagine I don’t have a lot of storage. Thus, with this in mind ideally I would prefer students to be able to transport their paintings to and from the classes with their equipment, rather than having me store them here. This is of course much easier if you drive to the class, but there are ways of safely transporting a wet canvas whereby it won’t get smudged, especially if you keep the canvas to a modest size. I’m going to research this a little more and put some recommendations up soon.
In the meantime, I’ll put up some storage in my garden shed if it’s just not workable to transport your canvas with you. Needless to say this would be at your own risk, and it is less of an issue in the summer months as in the cold winter ones.
MATERIALS LIST FOR NEW ART CLASSES
See the bottom of materials list for checklist and where to buy!The first thing to say is that materials are not provided in these classes, and thus you need organise this yourself and come prepared. You’ll find my recommended list of materials below, but if you already have a set of oil paints, and brushes that you are happy with, then that’s fine to go ahead and use them. I can offer some advice as we go in the painting process. Or if you already have a set of paints and other equipment, but want to upgrade without the initial pain of buying a whole new set of paints, you can just build up slowly in a natural way by replacing your older paints with better quality ones when the tubes are empty and need replacing anyway. If you're happy sticking with what you have, that's no problem either.
The one exception to this is the issue of solvents, which can be toxic especially in an enclosed space without high ceilings. In this regard I want to endeavour to make the working environment as safe as possible for you the student, and also for myself. With this in mind, I must insist that everyone use a good quality low odour solvent, such as Sansodor, or Gamsol. Or you can run another brand by me if you’ve something else in mind. I will have some here as well just in case, but really want to try and foster each artist being prepared and self sufficient in terms of materials.
Ok, lets begin with the oil paints themselves. There are numerous good brands out there, and within each brand there are an overwhelming variety of colour options to choose from. I myself, am still experimenting with new colours and brands, and thus, don’t want to present my list as some kind of definitive palette. In fact, my own palette is in transition at the moment. I began using Windsor & Newton’s Artist range of colours when I first began my training some 27 odd years ago. However, in recent years I’ve been lured away from Windsor and Newton, to two other premium brands, namely Old Holland and Michael Harding oil paints. Thus, my own paint box at the moment is a strange mix of colours from all of these brands. However, my general inclination currently is to choose the colour in the Michael Harding range first, if available, then Old Holland who have a larger range, and finally Windsor and Newton if I just can’t part with a particular tube that I’ve grown fond of.
One more thing to note for those of you new to this world of oil paints, when you are purchasing tubes of oil paint the cost is not just based on the size of the tube, but also on the rarity of the pigment, or the expense of production for the companies. To make sense of this every company has developed a tiered “Series” system. Series 1 and 2 are relatively affordable, while 3 and 4 are expensive, and 5 and 6 extremely expensive. With Old Holland it goes up in letters rather than numbers, but the same principal with A and B being the cheapest. With this in mind, I’ll try and keep my recommended list toward a more affordable range. The one exception being a good Cadmium Yellow, which is worth the stretch in cost for what it can do and it’s special mixing qualities.
LIST OF RECOMMENDED OIL PAINTS
Titanium White (A1) – Old Holland – 125ml or 225 ml
Or Titanium White (No2) – Michael Harding – 60 or 225ml
Scheveningen Yellow Lemon B10 by Old Holland, (Series B), 40ml
Or Windsor Yellow (722) by Windsor & Newton, (Series 2), 37ml
Or Cadmium Yellow Light (D11), by Old Holland, (Series D), 40ml
Yellow Ochre (119), by Michael Harding, (Series 1), 40ml or 60ml
Or Yellow Ochre Light (A53), by Old Holland, (Series A), 40ml or 60ml
Windsor Red (726), by Windsor & Newton Artists Range, (Series 2), 37ml
Or Scheveningen Red Light (B22), by Old Holland, (Series B), 40ml
Or Magenta (303), by Michael Harding, (Series 3), 40ml or 60ml
Burnt Umber (126), by Michael Harding, (Series 1), 40ml or 60ml
Or Red Umber (A349), by Old Holland, (Series A), 40ml
Raw Umber (121), by Michael Harding, (Series 1), 40ml or 60ml
Or Raw Umber (A69), by Old Holland, (Series A), 40ml
Transparent Oxide Red (220), by Michael Harding, (Series 2), 40ml or 60ml
Or Transparent Oxide Red Lake (B334), by Old Holland, (Series B), 40ml
Ultramarine Blue (113), by Michael Harding, (Series 1), 40ml or 60ml
Or Ultramarine Blue (A36), by Old Holland, (Series A), 40ml
Phthalocyanine Green Lake (213), by Michael Harding, (Series 2), 40ml or 60ml
Or Windsor Green (Phthalo) (720), by Windsor & Newton Artists Range, (Series 2), 37ml
Or Scheveningen Green Deep (C49), by Old Holland, (Series C), 40m
BLACKSIvory Black (129), by Michael Harding, (Series 1), 40ml or 60ml
Or Ivory Black (A74), by Old Holland, (Series A), 40ml
OTHER COLOURS THAT WOULD BE NICE TO HAVE
Phthalo Turquoise (526), by Windsor & Newton, (Series 1), 37ml
Cadmium Yellow Deep (D16), by Old Holland, (Series D), 40ml
Or Cadmium Yellow Deep (403), by Michael Harding, (Series 4), 40 or 60ml
Cadmium Orange (089), by Windsor & Newton, (Series 4), 37ml
This is the one I’m using now which I really like, but there is another more affordable Orange by Michael Harding as listed below, which looks good.
Or Permanent Orange (No. 222), by Michael Harding, (Series 2), 40ml or 60ml
Venetian Red (No.122), by Michael Harding, (Series 1), 40 or 60ml
Alizarin Claret (No.310), by Michael Harding, (Series 3), 40ml or 60ml
Or Burgandy Wine Red (D166), by Old Holland, (Series D), 40ml
Or Permanent Alizarin Crimson (468), by Windsor & Newton Artists Range, (Series 4), 37ml
BRUSHES FOR OIL PAINTING
There are lots of makes out there for you to choose from but I highly recommend that you buy Rosemary and Co Brushes. They are simply the best brush I’ve come across in all my years of painting, and are actually competitively priced as they sell online directly to artists.
The workhorse of oil painting brushes is generally the bristle brush, and the particular ones I’d recommend from Rosemary Brushes is The Ultimate Bristle Brush. And within this range, I do most of my work with a filbert shaped brush head, and also some rounds. Besides that it’s also useful to have a few synthetic brushes from the Eclipse and Masters Choice range, also from Rosemary Brushes and all listed below. If working to a budget I’ve pretty much arranged them in order of importance. Also in terms of navigating the Rosemary’s website, remember that at the end of adding your sizes in the various ranges to your shopping cart, you’ll have to tick what length of handles you want. I’d always recommend going for the long handles.
ROSEMARY & CO BRUSHESPlease note these brushes can only be bought online!
Quick tip – the easiest way to click on “Oil Brushes” and the look to the side links on the left for the different ranges: Ultimate Bristle, Classic, Eclipse, Masters Choice etc.
The Ultimate Bristle Brush - Filbert shape - Long handles
Two of each of these sizes: 0,2,4
One of each of these sizes: 1, 3, 5, 6, 8
The Ultimate Bristle Brush – Round shape - Long handles
Two of each of these sizes: 1, 2, 3
One of Size 0, 1,
ALSO NICE TO HAVE THE FOLLOWING AS WELL
but not necessary to get going.
Classic (Range of oil bristle brushes) - Long handles
One of Size 4
Masters Choice - Long handles
Synthetic brushes that I find good for blending.
1 x Size 2 - Optional
1 x Size 5 – Optional
The Ultimate Bristle Brush – Long Flat - Long handles
I only have a few of these but they can be nice for getting crisper edges when painting. Maybe a couple of size 2 and 4 would be worth starting with.
As oil paint usually comes out quite thick from the tube we generally mix in a little bit of a medium, such as linseed oil to thin the paint out and make it more pliable and amenable to brush work. As well as adding great flexibility and strength to the paint film as we build up layers on the canvas.
Linseed oil is the traditional medium of oil painting and is actually what’s mixed into the colour pigments in the tubes themselves. However there are also some more modern algyd resins, such as Liquin, which have the chief advantage of drying the oil colours in about half the usual time.
Now it is worth mentioning that this very speed of drying can also be a disadvantage if you want to paint in the same area of the painting for an extended period of time, as the paint will become tacky with fast drying colours within a few hours or even less on a warm day. Now as my classes will generally be about two hours this should not be a big issue. However, if you were planning to work at home as well, especially for extended periods 2 hours plus, then linseed oil might be a better bet. I actually have come to like a 50:50 mix of Liquin and Linseed oil, which I find a nice balance between the two.
Windsor & Newton’s
Any one of these is fine, but if you feel like experimenting by all means buy a selection.
Liquin Original – 250ml
Refined Linseed oil – 250ml
Painting Medium – 250ml
You can get small bottles of 75ml but much better value in the long run to go for a 250ml bottle. A bottle of any one of these three is fine, although if you want to experiment a bit by all means by a selection.
Solvents are used for two reasons. Firstly, they can be used like a medium, to thin down the paint. In this sense they are generally used more in the early stages of an oil painting, and less so toward the end, due to the fat over lean rule. You need very little solvent in this regard.
Secondly, solvents are used to clean your brushes of oil paint both during and after each painting session in the final clean up, and here you will need considerably more.
There are lots of different brands of artist’s grade solvents such as white spirits and turpentine, however, most can be quite toxic, especially if used by numerous people in close quarters; Thus for this class I need to insist that everyone use a good quality low odour solvent, such as
Gamblin’s Gamsol - 1 litre plus
Windsor and Newton’s Sansodor 1 litre plus
The bad news is they can be expensive, but most things you get better value if you buy it in larger amounts, thus I'd recommend getting at least a litre container if not more. Also please don't ever pour this down the sink, as it's damaging to the environment and also because it's easily recyclable. It’s a simple matter of pouring the paint clouded solvent into a container, and then allowing it to settle for a few days whereby the paint particles slowly settle on the bottom as the top clears and becomes ready to use again. It's handy to keep your old containers as they'll have child proof lids on them also. But that being said this stuff is toxic so I'd keep all solvents and paints well clear of inquisitive children as a matter of course.
MY CLEANING PROCESS
In my clean up process I actually use three different jars with progressively cleaner Gamsol or Sansodor. It works like this. I wipe off as much excess paint as possible on kitchen paper. Then I get off the rest of heavy paint by swirling the brush in the first jar for about 5 seconds, then another swirl in the second cleaner jar and then onto the last one. Then I'll do a test wipe on a clean sheet of kitchen paper so see if all the residual paint is gone. If not it goes back in the solvent. It does take work to keep your brushes in good shape, and no matter how much you do they will still age over time as tiny amount of paint builds up. The good news is that older stiffer brushes also serve a purpose in the painting process. By the way, never leave you brushes sitting facedown in a jar with solvent, as you can ruin the shape of the head.
You’ll also need a palette to mix your paint on, preferably around the A3 size or there are a few 30x40cm ones availabe, which is very close. Now this can be a traditional wood palette or a pad of tear off sheets which would be very handy for the class room setting where it will save time on the clean up and mess, and allow you more time to paint.
You’ll also need a palette cup to put a small amount paint medium, and solvent for the painting process.
I don’t paint much with a palette knife but they can be handy for mixing up a large quantity of paint, and for scraping off your palette in the clean up, if that is you’re not using disposable ones.
In terms of what you’ll be painting on there are a wealth of options to choose from. I often get custom made canvases made up for my larger work, but for smaller stuff I’ve found an Italian brand called Belle Arti of ready-made linen canvases very good.
60 – Gallery Excellent
Available from KM Evans in various readymade sizes.
Besides that, there are a number of reasonably good brands, such as Windsor & Newton’s artist range of canvases, or Reeves, or KM Evans themselves, which are also fine to use; Cotton or linen fine.
Also worth mentioning is that it would be advisable to keep your canvas sizes at a modest scale as you’ll be working on a table easel, and also for ease of transport. Maybe a 16x12, 18x14 or 16x20 inch in the rectangular format, or 12x12 or 16x16 inch in the square format.
One more thing to note is the importance of matching as closely as possible the proportions or ratio of your canvas to your reference photograph. I'll be adding a page dedicated to this shortly, which will also cover how use the artist grid method to achieve a more accurate drawing.
CLEAN UP EQUIPMENT
Roll of Kitchen paper
A couple of jars with lids
Gamsol or Sansodor solvent as mentioned above.
Also handy to have a small funnel for recycling your odourless solvent.
NEVER pour down the sink!
Lint free cloth – microfiber cloth (you can usually pick these up in a supermarket)
You’ll also need box to carry all your painting equipment. You can buy a purpose build one in an art store, or you might just find a tool kit box in a DIY store that will also fit the purpose. The one thing you want to ensure is that when you’re transporting your gear that your brushes don’t get squashed, nor your tubes of paint. Also when transporting solvents and mediums you want to be sure they are firmly sealed and upright.
CHECKLIST AND WHERE TO BUY
Solvent - Sansodor
Palette - either wood or disposable
Note that in KM Evans you get slightly better prices when buying online.
Jars with lids - Home
Kitchen roll, and microfibre lint free clothes - Supermarket
Small funnel for recycling solvent - Hardware or DIY store
Box to carry your painting equipment - Art shop, maybe even KM Evans, or a tool box could work from a hardware or DIY store like Woodies or Homebase. I don't move my gear so not an expert on this one.