Depending on the student’s level in drawing they will move into paint in the second year, continuing to draw alongside. The third year will be spent concentrating solely on painting. Painting is the natural continuation of mass drawing training learned in the first year, with the addition of colour.
Working from both the model and still life, students complete a series of exercises which cover colour mixing, paint application, the achieving of textures and atmosphere in painting. Using a limited palette of 5 colours enables the student to keep focused on tone, temperature, mark making, and painterly qualities – those aspects that ultimately separate painting from photography, which has less to do with absolute colour than with overall mood.
Students learn to appreciate the impression and the whole statement of values which belong to the specific scene they are painting, whether it be a figure, still life or a portrait. The complicated problems of representing nature are solved by understanding the form as a combination of shapes with specific colour values, each relating to the whole. Preliminary colour studies are executed before the main work is attempted, the better to understand the broad effect and flow of light. A general colour ‘block-in’ or ‘ebauche’ is developed into a work that retains unity which a strong sense of drawing, economy of detail and broadness of effect being stressed.
Typically a painting project begins with a studied drawing in which the accurate proportion and placement of the big masses is established. This is transferred to canvas and the drawing developed from a number of different angles. For instance, with an initial monochromatic, underpainting, or a simplified colour block-in. Regardless of the specific method a direct treatment is encouraged, striving toward a sense of the whole, where each individual component is assigned its proper importance in relation to the whole effect. Throughout the figure painting programme lessons learned in previous drawing exercises are sustained; Accuracy, proportion, capturing a lively and believable gesture, conveying a sense of anatomy, and designing a believable value scheme which describes the effect of light are key.
Advanced projects in the drawing programme allows a natural pro- gression into working with oil paint. Students begin initially with a “grisaille” palette, familiarising themselves with the medium and the problems of accurate value mixing and paint handling. They progress to working with the traditional limited colour palette, enabling an accurate and convincing colour impression, marrying a strong sense of drawing with the principals of direct painting.