Learning to see the world through colour, with Alex Fowler

  • Tutor, Alex Fowler NEAC
  • 4th, 11th, 18th, and 25th May
  • 10am – 12. with a crit in the afternoon.
  • There will be a dedicated WhatsApp group for the duration of the course for easy exchange of images and support
  • £160/course
  • Delivered via ZOOM
  • The course will be recorded for you to work from at your own speed.

What to expect on this course

Have you ever struggled with making your subject appear real, or maybe the subject of your painting is great but it doesn’t tie in with the background, and you can’t for the life of you get the space to read?

The Course will cover:

  • An introduction to colour as it applies to the painter
  • Brush technique, mark making and paint application
  • Colour mixing and organising the palette;
  • Design and composition
  • Strategies for accurate drawing 
  • “Making things look real”, depicting different surfaces/textures
  • Selecting the core value and colour relationships
  • Strategies for detail and edges

Why take the course ‘The Right Colour in the Right Place”

On this course with Alex Fowler you will learn how to observe the visible world as a painter. In a sense it is a lesson in seeing.

Whether you want to depict the light passing through a glass of water, the intense glow of a shiny red apple, freshly cut blooms from the garden, or the aftermath of breakfast, with Alex’s approach, in theory, no subject is too difficult.

It is all a matter of putting the right colour in the right place

Alex’s approach demystifies the experience, and show how by looking at the world as a jigsaw puzzle of colour shapes we can make sense of it and depict it in paint. 

To quote the great teacher Charles Hawthorne, “Beauty in art is the delicious notes of colour, one against the other…get (your colours) true and you’ll be surprised how little else you need”.

Materials for Still Life in Oils: The Right Colour in the Right Place


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. 

Alex recommends 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
  • Cadmium Red (optional)
  • Cadmium Red Deep (optional)
  • Alizarin Crimson
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Phthalocyanine Blue or Cerulean or Viridian                 (see note below*)
  • Quinacridone Rose 
  • Cobalt Teal (optional)

                  *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)

In addition to paint you will need the following:

  • Palette Knife: not too small, drop handle or flat
  • Canvases/Boards: roll of primed canvas or stretched canvas or acrylic primed boards (mdf, hardboard  or thin plywood)                   
    • Class 1: approx. 8” x 10”                   
    • Class 2: approx. 14” x 16”                  
    • Class 3: approx. 16” x 22”                  
    • Class 4/5: approx. 18” x 26” x 2
  •  in addition: primed paper, canvas roll or tear off oil painting pad. It is always worth having a good range of different sized and shapes of canvases available. The above is only a rough guide.
  • Masking Tape
  • Palette (white is recommended but not essential) – At least A3 There is nothing like too small a palette to hinder our 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: Alex recommends this one: Viewcatcher, normally available from Jackson’s (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. A rigger no.1 or 2 for thin lines. Alex recommends http://www.rosemaryandco.com online, but be sure to tick THE LONG HANDLE OPTION. * The rosemary and co. hog synthetic mix is called the Classic.
  • Lighting:  a north window or a window with no direct sunlight, or an angle-poise to light our still life. Enough ambient light in the room to see clearly. 
  • Material/Backdrops: a range of different coloured cloths, some plain some patterned: tablecloths, napkins, drapes, curtains even patterned clothes. And or a range of coloured boards.  Week one you will need a grey or neutral backdrop. A white wall in the shadows could suffice.  
  • Objects for your Still Life:  Bottles, Jugs, Pots, Plates, Jars, glasses, Cups, Fruit, Flowers, or anything else you are itching to paint.