An Oil Painting from Start to Finish over Four Weeks

On this course Alex will guide you through the painting of a complex still life arrangement from conception to resolution.

Not all paintings are conceived, developed and delivered in the space of one art class; this course is a four week journey through one piece of work.

  • Tutor, Alex Fowler NEAC
  • Tuesdays, 2nd March, 9th, 16th and 23rd
  • 10.00 – 12.00 and return at 4.00 for Crit
  • £160/course
  • Delivered via Zoom
  • Suitable for all levels

We strongly recommend this return later in the day as a time for reflection, advice and shared discussion of the experience.

About the Course

Alex will teach and paint for two hours each morning showing how a painting can be constructed and adjusted over time. On the way he will address many of the fundamental questions as well as some of the common pitfalls of painting. He will return at the end of the afternoon to see how you have progressed. In addition, Alex will suggest homework for the class. This is not designed to be ‘marked’ but to give you a chance to research and explore your subject.

It can be difficult to work on a painting over time without it getting too tight, or overworked, without getting bored, or overwhelmed with frustration. On this course you will be paying particular attention to how you can keep the flame of inspiration, that initial excitement we all feel on starting, burning throughout the process. 

The Course will cover:

  • How and where to look for inspiration, and how we can learn from the art of the past
  • What to paint and thoughts on arranging your still life
  • Approaches that keeps the painting progressing in a lively way
  • Colour mixing and organising the palette
  • Brush technique, mark making and paint application
  • Correcting and adjusting
  • Strategies for accurate drawing without getting too tight
  • Strategies for detail and edges
  • A feeling for the endgame


Suggestions for still life objects will be sent to you before the first class.

Here is Alex’s Materials list. We understand that budgets can get in the way and that the outlay on oil painting paraphernalia can be painful initially. If you are a beginner have a look at sets of paints and brushes – they tend to be good value. If you already have similar items please feel free to bring them. Try to cover what you can from the list. If you have any questions PLEASE ask.

Paints: (If you can, buy Artist’s Quality Paints. It will cost more but it will go further and the range of colour you can achieve will be far greater. Be aware the student paints, where the name is suffixed by the word “hue” as in “cadmium yellow hue”, are made from a different pigment, in this case arylide yellow, and so can operate very differently to the genuine pigment. In this example, the paint is less opaque and has less pigmentation.

If you are on a tight budget and can only get one genuine cadmium go with Cadmium Yellow Pale which is in between Cadmium Yellow and Cadmium Lemon Yellow on the Spectrum. 

I recommend the following colours, but you are free to bring others if you like working with them. 

  • Titanium White
  • Cadmium Lemon Yellow
  • Cadmium Yellow
  • Cadmium Yellow Deep and/or Cadmium Orange (both optional)
  • Cadmium Red Light or Cadmium Red
  • Alizarin Crimson
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Phthalocyanine Blue or Cerulean or Viridian (see note below*)
  • Quinacridone Rose
  • Cobalt Teal (optional)
  • Burnt Umber (other Earth Colours if you like to use them)

*phthalocyanine is a series 1 colour, so very affordable but very intense so some like to use the more expensive and subtle Cerulean. The cheaper “Hue” version of Cerulean is made from a mix of other pigments (Phthalocyanine, Ultramarine and Whites)

Palette Knife: not to small! Click here for examples: drop handle or flat

Canvases/Boards: for entire course 1canvas/acrylic primed board (mdf or thin plywood) at least 18” x 26”, in addition: primed paper, a smaller extra canvas, canvas roll or tear off oil painting pad.

Masking Tape

Palette (white is recommended but not essential) – At least A3 There is nothing like too small a palette to hinder your painting.

Dipper:  x 2 (clip on holder for solvent/medium

Medium: Zest it or low odour solvent and oil painter’s medium (or stand oil for making your own bring an extra small glass jar and Alex will demonstrate. 

Empty Jam Jar or small glass bottle

Rags or Kitchen Paper

Drawing Equipment:

  •               • Pocket Sketchbook
  •   • 2B Pencils
  •               • Rubber
  •               • Ruler (about 30 cm)

Viewfinder: I recommend this one: Viewcatcher (or two 90 degree corners of white or grey card and a bulldog clip)

Brushes – A mix of Filbert and round Hog or a Hog synthetic mix*: Sizes 2, 4, 6, 12. A couple of round brushes that come to a good point are useful too. A couple of Large Brushes are important because they help us keep the painting simple.

I recommend online but be sure to tick THE LONG HANDLE OPTION.

* the rosemary and co. hog synthetic mix is called the Classic.

If you have any questions about materials please ask.