Behind the Scenes – Online Courses, Tutors and how it works

Since the enforced seclusion of Lockdown we have all discovered online courses. Some people have stuck with this flexible form of instruction working from home, on holiday or from recordings at a time to suit themselves. Others have come back to the studio. A combination of the two, if possible, seems to be the happiest of arrangements.

For those of you who don’t know much about our online classes this is to introduce you to our Spring Term tutors and explain how it works. Each course follows a fairly similar format.

Tutors for Online Courses, Spring 2023

This term we have two EXCELLENT tutors: Michael Weller NEAC and Alex Fowler NEAC. They are both experienced studio and online teachers, and very accomplished artists. Find out more about the New English Art Club (NEAC)

Both courses are based on the age old practise of working from important painters from different eras. The first half of term has Michael looking at the work of Vermeer.

The second half of term has Alex Fowler working from a Poussin and Monet haystacks. Two very different artists from different periods.

Our tutors’ approaches to these works will not be the same.

Michael Weller and Painting at Home after Vermeer

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has an exhibition of Vermeer paintings from around the world opening on 10th February. This is supposedly the largest exhibition of Vermeer paintings, EVER.

Michael Weller shares his approach to the calm, quiet paintings of Vermeer.

The idea isn’t to paint like Vermeer, or me, more that we’re inspired by Vermeer’s world. We will try some things that I find helpful, to do with proportion and light and dark. By the end of the five weeks, people’s drawing will be better and the colours cleaner.

Michael Weller, with reference to Painting at Home after Vermeer

  • Tutor, Michael Weller, NEAC
  • January 12,19, February 2, 9 and 16
  • 10.00 – 12.00 online demo, 4.00-5.00 pm crit
  • £200/course
  • Via Zoom and Whatsapp

Alex Fowler and On the Shoulders of Giants

Alex will approach each painting with some information about the artist and where this piece of work fits on a timeline. The first two weeks will be looking at the Poussin. Everyone will select a detail from the Poussin – otherwise the idea of taking on such a complex painting may put people off.

The second two weeks are based on Monet’s Haystack series.

You will be encouraged to start with drawing, focusing on the rhythms of the shapes. As you move into colour you will break the image down into simplified shapes of colours. Exploring how those colours relate to each other, and can be adjusted in that relationship, will give you an experience of how colour can be tuned like notes in music. 

  • Tutor, Alex Fowler NEAC
  • 27 February, 6, 13, 20 March 2023
  • £160/course
  • 10.00 – 12.00, and a crit at 4.00pm
  • Class is delivered by ZOOM with a dedicated WhatsApp group
  • The class will be recorded so you can replay it whilst you paint in the afternoon.

By studying paintings closely you can fully experience the work, and to learn how great paintings were put together. Alex will use the work of Poussin and Monet as an opportunity to explore: design, composition, colour, and lighting. You will learn about the mechanics of a painting by studying it closely.

How it Works

  • You will be given information about a still life set up, or a picture to print off to work from. Please make sure this is ready before the class starts.
  • Before the course begins you will be given a ZOOM invitation. This will be used each time you access zoom throughout the course.
  • The demonstrations are recorded and you will be given access to the YouTube video soon after the two hours are completed.
  • You will be asked for a mobile number so you can become part of a WhatsApp group. The purpose of the group is to share useful information and to show the Tutor your work for the afternoon crit. Although it can become quite social we would appreciate it if students ONLY show work relevant to the class. Some less experienced students can find this intimidating – please be aware of this and restrict the number of pictures you share with the group (max 2 per class unless told otherwise). Good advice would be to turn off the alerts for the group so your phone doesn’t irritate you at all times of day and night.
  • At 10.00 we start with a two hour demonstration and talk, explanations about technique, which materials, references of interest and anything else that is relevant. The students watch but are on mute, and with the videos of themselves turned off. This seems to make for the best quality zoom experience.
  • Any questions for the tutors are filtered through the ‘chat’ bit of ZOOM. Kate acts as the go-between and either answers the question directly to ‘chat’, or asks the tutor. The tutors are able to concentrate on their demos without too many interruptions, and their chat with Kate means they don’t feel isolated in their own studios but very much part of the class.
  • There is a brief break at 11.00 and we start again at about 11.10. The demonstration continues until 12.00. The students are encouraged to ask questions – everyone benefits from the answers
  • Those students who want to return for a crit are given a time from 16.00 onwards. They talk directly to the tutor. Others can watch but only the student in the crit can talk.
  • Crits are not recorded
  • Tutors will suggest work to be done by the following class.


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