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FAQs - teaching and courses...


What surfaces are good to paint on with oils ...see answer >

Lots of surfaces are good for oils. What you paint on in oils is called the support and includes the canvas wood board etc and the primer. The key factors to consider are:

1 Absorbancy
A more absorbent support will absorb oil from the paint into it leaving the paint stiffer even before it has dried. Oil washes (thinned with turps or white spirit) will behave almost like dry paint in a matter of minutes.

2 Tooth
The more pitted or rough the surface the less the paint will slide smoothly across it

3 Stability
For permanent painting the surface must be stable.


A support for oils must have some tooth or absorbency or both otherwise the oil paint will not be able to adhere to it:

1 Cotton or Linen
Cotton and linen canvas can be bought raw and primed at home or bought ready primed. Gesso primings are most absorbent, universal primings are medium and Oil primimgs are the least absorbent

2 MDF/ply
You can prime these surfaces with two coats of acylic gesso or stick linen on to them to make a canvas panel.

3 Paper
Is a less permanent surface but is good for sketches. Prime it with shellac or acrylic primer < hide answer
When are deposits and balances due for courses ...see answer >

For courses that I organise myself (not West Dean or Provence or Manzac
50% Deposit is due on booking. Deposit is non refundable six weeks before the start of the class. The balance for the course is due three weeks before the class begins and is also non refundable. If there is available space it is sometimes possible to transfer to another course. < hide answer
How do I book a course? ...see answer >

simple, go to the teaching section and find the course you are interested in. Follow the link from there. For courses I am running you will need to pay a deposit of 1/2 the course fee to book. For West Dean College and Arts in Provence you follow the links to contact them directly < hide answer
Can I join as a beginner? ...see answer >

You can. I would recommend however that you have some drawing knowledge and experience if you are coming on a painting course < hide answer
Do I bring my own materials? ...see answer >

You do. The only courses where materils are provided are the taster days I teach at West Dean and the colour courses that I teach at the paddock studio. < hide answer
Do you teach a particular style? ...see answer >

No I try to help each student develop there own approach. The emphasis of most of my teaching is working from observation however. < hide answer
Can you suggest local accommodation for Sussex Courses? ...see answer >

One of my students runs this one in Lewes. More to follow < hide answer
What brands of paint do you recommend? ...see answer >

For Artists Oils Winsor and Newton is a great all round paint and is what I mostly use. Old Holland is more highly pigmented but as a result I find the texture too stiff. Michael Harding is an excellent artist's paint.
If you want to use student quality oils to save money Winsor and Newtons Winton range is probably best < hide answer
What easels do you recommend for outdoor work? ...see answer >

Every design has pros and cons and of course the cost varies. I like wooden box easels best as they are very stable and you have a shelf in front of you when you work . In addition they can store your painting equipment and pallete. Half box easels are best unless you work big and neither full or half will take paintings higher than about 80 cm (check the maximum size before you buy!) Pochade boxes are excellent for small work on panels. I have a guerrilla painter box which I ordered from the states but there are lots of other good ones. If you want lightness and stabilty an old fashioned wooden sketching easel will take quite large canvases. < hide answer
What is a good all round outdoor painting kit? ...see answer >

Michael Harding oils
Titanium white no1
bright yellow Lake
french yellow ochre
alizarin crimson
indian red
ultramarine blue
prussian blue/pthalocyanine blue lake
raw umber
Winsor and Newton artists oils
Titanium white
winsor yellow
yellow ochre
permanent alizarin crimson
french ultramarine
winsor blue green shade
raw umber
ivory black

Winsor and Newton Winton oils
Titanium white
cadmium yellow pale hue
yellow ochre
permanent alizarin crimson
french ultramarine
pthalo blue
raw umber
ivory black


Easel
mabef/winsor and newton half box easel

artists hog brushes in long flat

paint rags

white spirit

a flat palette
< hide answer
how do I colour a ground before painting? ...see answer >

There are two ways of colouring a ground. You can mix acrylic paint with acrylic gesso or you can use thin oil paint. I wouldn't recommend the acrylic method for anything but very pale tones as1 It produces rather a flat lifeless colour and 2 Too high a proportion of acrylic paint to gesso does not result in a good ground for oils to adhere too. To colour a ground using oil paint firstly choose your colours quick dryers are best at least as part of a mix. These include umbers prussian blue cobalt blue (not cobalt blue hue!) raw sienna and flake white ground in linseed oil and underpainting white (W and N). Don't include any white ground in any other oil than linseed or alizarin crimson ,winsor yellow or any quinacrodone yellow as these are slow dryers. Thin down with white spirit paint on and leave for about 10 minutes depending on the surface you are working with then wipe excess off with a soft cloth < hide answer
How do I join an Arts in Provence course? ...see answer >

You will find a link on the teaching page but the ciourses do book up very quickly! < hide answer