Still Life Painting Course

31st July-4th August & 7th-11th August 2017


Still life painting has fascinated artists and painting connoisseurs for centuries. Some of the first people to master this as a genre were the original Dutch Northern Realists in the 17th Century. Christopher Clements studied the techniques they used while he was studying in Italy. This 5 day course will guide you through a still life painting using some of the original Dutch techniques but with a contemporary twist. You can build on the lessons learnt on the cast drawing course or do this course on its own.

Over the 5 days you will be introduced to: 

  • Still Life Composition
  • Sight Size Drawing
  • Wash Drawing & Tonal Value
  • Colour Use
  • Layering The Painting

The techniques covered in the course have many applications beyond traditional still life painting. You will find what you learn valuable if you :

  • Enjoy figurative painting at any level from a hobby to a job
  • Work in design and need to improve your rendering skills
  • Study art and want to learn traditional painting techniques
  • Have been on other Northern Realist courses and would like to broaden you skills
  • Are just curious and would like a fun week learning something unusual

Still Life Composition

Once the set up is complete you will learn how to use the sight size technique. Sight size is thought to have been used by Nineteenth Century artists such as John Singer Sargent. It is  used  to get a very accurate likeness of the subject without needing to resort to any lens based aids. It can be used for portraits, figure drawing and cast drawing but also lends itself perfectly to still life. The still life and canvas are placed next to each other and the artist stands back a couple of metres to make all the drawing judgements before walking up the canvas to make each brush stroke.

Sight Size Drawing

Naturally composition forms an integral part of a still life painting. You need to think through your choice of objects and their arrangement. This element of painting is easily neglected or misunderstood. Chris will take you through various compositional theories and ideas which will give your painting the desired mood and atmosphere. The objects you use will be supplied so that you’re not familiar with them and look at them with a fresh eye. To look at them objectively it helps don’t have a sentimental attachment to them. That can come later in your own work once you’re familiar with the method.

Wash Drawing & Tonal Value

With a sound understanding of the sight size method you will be ready to begin the painting. This will first involve a monochrome wash drawing. Chris will demonstrate a simple value scale. This will help you understand light and form using chiaroscuro (light and dark). By breaking the light and shadow into families of value you will give your painting depth and atmosphere. A sound understanding of this is essential as you work with colour in the next stage.

You will be shown how to use:

  • Shadows
  • Lights
  • Mid-tones
  • Reflected light in the shadows
  • Highlights

Using Colour

Having completed the wash drawing you will be in a perfect position to apply colour. Using a simple palette you will find you can achieve a huge range of colour and value. Colour is relative and affected by a number of factors which Chris will explain and demonstrate.

You will learn about how your choose colours based on 

  • Field colour
  • Local colour
  • Relative colour
  • Tonal Value
  • Reflected colour

Rendering Texture

One of the most intriguing elements of still life painting for artists and viewers alike is the rendering of particular textures. How to demonstrate that an object is made from marble rather than plastic for example. Once your objects are painted in with the right proportions, value and colour, this is the final piece of the puzzle.

Chris will help you:

  • Use the light falling on an object to show its texture and surface
  • Apply texture in the right areas to give the painting focus and interest
  • Deal with edges and give the painting an intriguing balance of unity and variety

Layering the painting

An oil painting must be correctly layered for it to dry properly and remain in good condition over time. This is not as complicated as you might think but must be done properly. If you follow some tried and tested methods you will have no problem. Also care of your equipment can easily be overlooked, especially at the end of an intense painting session. The course will introduce you to: 

  • Painting grounds and supports
  • Correct use of painting mediums
  • Fat over lean method of layering the painting
  • Varnishing
  • Brush cleaning and care

Find out more or book your place

  • Dates: 31st July-4th August & 7th-11th August 2017

  • Cost: £295 week or £550 for both.

  • Hours: 09:45 – 16:30 (Lunch 12:45 – 13:30)
  • Discounts: Early-bird and previous student discounts available.

  • Materials: Will depend on which course you do and can be supplied, email for a materials list.

  • Courses can be tailored to your own needs so feel free to get in touch if you’d like to discuss this or anything else.

  • More info: or use the form on the right – please mention which course you’re interested in