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Expressive Floral Abstract Painting Workshop with Sally Mowbray

Students participating in this one day workshop can expect to push both their painting skills and their imaginations to devise an abstract or semi abstract painting based on and inspired by floral motifs, flowers and foliage
This project can be painted in oils or acrylics (please see pre requisites for oils below). Students can expect to be guided as a group and individually through processes to produce a couple of small mixed media collages and a painting on canvas.

What to expect

The day begins with large loose and small detailed sketches inspired by observation of floral and plant forms – both real and artificial using charcoal/or pencil and wax pastel

We will then begin to compose, using elements from our sketches- cutting /tearing into collage pieces, then working ideas from them into 2 small postcard size compositions to which we will then trial our colour choices At this point group and one to one discussions will take place relating to the compositional elements that have been devised, so you might feel confident to further edit and ‘push’ these small pieces towards something that you find personally interesting

We will then move on to scaling elements of these small works up onto your canvas. During the process you will have been specifically considering the format with regard to scale up.

The next step will consider the use of

  • Coloured grounds
  • Underpainting
  • Transparency vs opacity
  • Detail vs gesture
  • Mark making
  • Energy vs quietness
  • Colour and emotion

Students are asked to bring flower or plant samples, colour samples such as snippets from magazines, ideas from other artists, sketch book entries, fabric with floral pattern. The point is to generate an image from a collision of your different source materials to generate something new. If you have some artists you are inspired by or photos of flowers /plants please consider printing out these resources and bring them in hard copy to lay out – much better than scrolling thru on device and only seeing one at a time.

Is this course right for me?

For enthusiastic beginners to people with prior experience, this class aims to help you become confident with creating unexpected outcomes.

Image: Odilon Redon ‘Ophelia Amongst the Flowers’ 1908 (detail)

Materials list

Suggested Materials

  • 4 large sheets of paper – butchers or cartridge, not expensive A1 or A2
  • A stick of willow charcoal or a soft lead pencil & sharpener
  • A glue stick for collaging
  • Pack Faber Castelle soft wax crayons (from office works very affordable)


  • Consider formats either rectangle or square, sometimes a slightly off square works well. When choosing the size consider your experience level, maybe in the time given a 50x50cm is do able or go larger if you wish


  • A selection of paintbrushes – whatever you have or a selection of 3 different sizes from about 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches wide keeping in mind the size of your canvas
  • If you want to make big juicy marks you could get a few cheap house painting brushes


  • If you are using oils it would be suggested you bring some acrylic colours too for underpainting purposes
  • Please only bring oils if you have had experience with them and only bring odourless solvent plus an extra jar to take away spent solvent
  • Acrylic colours – whatever you have if you have a comprehensive set, or a set including 2 versions of each primary along with white, any umber, and a few choices to your taste OR if you have a strong idea about outcomes just buy those colours specifically for the project. Consider paint brands like A2, Matisse or Liquitex student range


  • You can use a disposable paper palette or a large firm plastic catering tray or plates .Larger is better

Water containers

  • eg: plastic storage container, tin or jars for water and a few paint rags

Things to add texture:

  • If you like the idea you could bring some sand to add to your paint
  • Paper Doilies for stencilling
  • Hessian or other fabric to imprint
  • Pieces or card or a comb to drag paint

The tutor will bring some water-based inks and acrylic medium to share

Use Your NSW Discover Voucher

This class is eligible for the NSW Discover Voucher so you can save $25 on your total cost. To book with your Discover Voucher, simply use our online form in the link below or book over the phone. Please ensure you have your voucher in the form of a PDF ready when you book (this would have been emailed to you by Service NSW).

Book with your NSW Discover Voucher

This class is held in our new studios.

Our 2022 workshops will all be delivered in our new, fully airconditioned Art Est Studios in the John Street Leichhardt Precinct. We are affectionately calling it East Village Leichhardt, as it’s on the border with Annandale! Click the venue link below for details.

Maximum of 8-12 students in all our classes depending which studio is used. Our class sizes are small, ensuring you receive the individual tuition you need.

Unless otherwise noted, prices exclude art materials.
Click here to see a list of local art supply retailers.

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This course has no current classes. Please the waiting list.