Painting - Oils

Oil painting – colour and expression with Emily Ball

Ref: SWE08810


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About this course

Learn how to use colour, oil paints and mediums with a confident, playful and intuitive approach. Techniques include colour mixing, transparency and opacity, tone, drama, layering and aesthetics.

Course Description

"The chief function of colour should be to serve expression" - Henri Matisse

The best use of colour is intuitive. Like putting flavours together in cooking, sampling and making sounds in music or putting together rich descriptions and phrases for poetry. It is an exploration and celebration of language. This course will help you to be confident, playful and intuitive with using colour, oil paints and mediums. You will explore four areas to achieve this through a series of exercises, experimentation and discussion:

• Firstly, the knowledge and use of the characteristics of all of the primary colours; how to mix them to make all the colour that you can see and imagine.

• Secondly, you will learn transparency and opacity with oils, how to enhance this with the use of mediums. You will also explore painting on different surfaces to discover how to increase and decrease the vividness and luminosity of colours and marks.

• Thirdly, you will develop your awareness of how to use different tonal values to create subtle shifts in mood and light, and how to create a dramatic, expressive statement with oils. Layering one colour on top of another can produce the most extraordinary 'Pop' and 'Shimmer'.

• Finally, you will combine and improvise with all of these responding to sensations of touch, taste and sound to make a series of paintings that viewers experience with their senses. Paintings that can provoke a multi-sensory response to your work.

By the end of the course you will have increased your confidence, knowledge and skills of colour mixing, of tone and light, and the effects of different types of painting surfaces on the media. You will be able to paint luminous and vivid colours and marks. You will also leave with a series of paintings.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials

What students need to bring

  • Lots of rags and baby wipes
  • A large palette - this can be an A1 or A2 sized piece of perspex or plastic
  • Plastic tubs x 6
  • The tutor recommends larger size tubes of oil paints than the shop stocks so bring what you have

Available to buy

  • Brushes - A generous selection from very fine to large decorating sizes (flat, filbert, round, rigger) and also a couple of large palette knives.
  • Oil paints - Lemon Yellow, Cadmium Yellow, Indian Yellow, Cadmium Red or Vermillion, Alizarin Crimson, Magenta, Cobalt Blue or Cyan, Ultramarine, Cerulean Blue, Indigo and Titanium White
  • Mediums - low odour solvent, stand oil (linseed and poppy)
  • Masking tape and bulldog clips
  • Oil sticks
  • Paper
  • Canvas
  • The tutor will be selling oil sticks, both primed and unprimed papers and primed canvas.


Emily Ball

Emily Ball trained at Exeter and Surrey Universities and is director and tutor of Emily Ball at Seawhite Studio. Her book Painting and Drawing People - A Fresh Approach was published in 2009.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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