Painting is the natural continuation of mass drawing with the addition of colour.
Working from both the model and still life, students complete a series of exercises that cover colour mixing, paint application, to achieve textures and atmosphere in painting. We use a limited palette of 5 colours which enables the student to keep focused on tone, temperature, mark making, and painterly qualities – those aspects that can ultimately separate a painting from a photograph – which have less to do with absolute colour than with overall mood.
Advanced projects in the drawing program allow a natural progression into working with oil paint. Students initially begin with a grisaille pallette to familiarise themselves with the medium and the problems of accurate value mixing and paint handling. They soon progress into 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.
Students learn to appreciate the impression, the whole statement of values that 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, to better understand the broad effect and flow of light. A general colour ‘block-in’ or ‘ebauche’ is developed into a work that retains unity and 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 are established. This is then transferred to canvas and the drawing can be 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.
All throughout the figure painting program 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 that describes the effect of light, are key.