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Online | Classical Oil Painting Foundations and Beyond with Matilda Michell

Course Overview

Students will learn about the approaches of the ‘Great Masters’ such as Rembrandt, Chardin, Velasquez and more. All levels are welcome in this relaxed and friendly class.

Your tutor, Matilda Michell, has gained a reputation for her research into the materials, methods and interests of Spanish, Dutch and French master painters including Diego Velázquez, Rembrandt, Chardin as well as 20th-century painters like Euan Uglow. Through demonstration and practice, students will gain a thorough understanding of the materials and techniques available to them and improve their understanding of oil painting.

What to expect

All students will gain a thorough understanding of approaches to classical oil painting including:

  • Learning about composition, tone and colour
  • Having the opportunity to explore a range of genres such as still life, nature, figure, portraiture
  • Learning a variety of oil painting approaches from the direct “alla prima” method to techniques for building up a painting in layers
  • Learning about colour, colour mixing and transparent and opaque pigments
  • Methods of underpainting, glazing and scumbling
  • Different approaches to paint application, and
  • The creating of mood, space and focal points within a painting.

What you will achieve

Students will work on paintings over several weeks, developing them to fully resolved images.

Is this course right for me?

This course is suitable for beginners as well as experienced students who wish to develop or consolidate their oil painting skills.

What matters is a desire to learn the genres of still life, figure, nature or portraiture and learn about classical techniques of artists such as Rembrandt, Chardin, Velasquez and more.

Beginners will learn step-by-step and build skills week by week, while those with prior experience are encouraged to extend their skills through a range of structured exercises as well as having the opportunity to work on their own projects under Matilda’s guidance.

High School students in year 10 and above are encouraged to attend this class.

Materials list

Students will need:

  • Easel
  • Some means of lighting their subject, either a small lamp or nearby window/natural light
  • Various household items as props
  • The ability to take photos of work in progress (i.e. mobile phone)
  • For the first class, you will need either three or four small canvases/prepared cardboard around A5 size or a larger one (around A3) on which to do multiple studies. Mid grey ground. You will need more canvases as the term progresses
  • Brushes: Princeton or art basics are good brands that are not too expensive (3 or 4 filbert brushes Size 1 | 3 or 4 filbert brushes Size 4 | 3 or 4 filbert brushes Size 8)
  • Rags
  • Odourless solvent or a brush cleaner (e.g. Disolv) for cleanup. Solvents MUST be odourless. Oil painting solvents and mediums must not be tipped down the sinks. You will need to bring jars with lids to take away spent solvents/mediums. Spent solvents/mediums must be taken with you and not left in the studios. Your tutor will give you information on reusing and disposing of spent solvents and mediums.
  • Small bottle of ‘Lean’ medium (Art Spectrum or Archival brand ) or odourless solvent and a small bottle of stand oil to make your own medium in class.
  • Small palette knife
  • Palette
  • Willow charcoal
  • Any acrylic paints you already have for applying a ground layer (titanium white, yellow ochre, burnt sienna, raw umber are good colours).
  • Oil Paints: we will discuss materials in the first class, so if you have a decent set of oil paints and brushes you don’t need to buy anything special until then. For anyone who wants or needs to buy additional oils, the list of recommended colours are:

Titanium white
Yellow Ochre
Raw Umber
Terra rosa
Indian red
Ivory Black
Bright Red (spectrum red or winsor red depending on brand)
Alizarin Crimson hue or Quinacridone Magenta
Ultramarine Blue
Bright Yellow (spectrum yellow mid or winsor yellow mid depending on brand)
Indian Yellow.

Optional oil colours to increase your range:
Raw sienna
Burnt umber
Pthalo blue
Prussian blue.

We recommend buying ‘artist quality’ paints (Art Spectrum oils are a good, reasonably priced brand) or brands that have a ‘student quality’ (Winsor & Newton)

This course will run online

Due to Sydney’s COVID-19 restrictions, our courses have been designed to run online therefore artists from all over the country are very welcome to enrol. We do hope to return to face-to-face studio classes in the nearby future and Art Est will inform students once this is possible. To see our latest Covid-19 updates visit:

Click here to see our detailed guide to setting up, and having a smooth online class.

Fees for adult classes exclude art materials. Click here to see a list of local art supply retailers.

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Course testimonials:

  • Matilda Michell is a patient, versatile, and inspiring teacher. The amount of knowledge and passion she has never ceases to amaze me and the way she’s able to accommodate students of all skill levels and tailor instruction to their personal goals is a rare skill. Thank you Matilda and Art Est!
  • I highly recommend this course. Matilda is a fantastic teacher who really knows her stuff, she works with each student at their own pace/skill level to bring out their best.
  • I learn, and it makes me feel I am on my way to becoming an artist. Matilda is a great teacher.