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Contemporary impressionism in Constable country at Flatford Mill

Contemporary impressionism in Constable country at Flatford Mill

About the Course

The course will cover how to paint light, shadows, reflections and your impressions of the fleeting changes of the world around us.

Impressionism began in the 1870s in France and is still influential and relevant today for the simple reason that it is still probably the most popular of the pictorial arts. It is appropriate that a course on Impressionism should be here in Constable Country because it was Constable’s painting of the Stour Valley that inspired Money and Pissarro. This course explores how the impressionists painted; we look at the new approach they took to colour, drawing, composition and subject with simple demonstrations and explanations on how they achieved their effects, with student then exploring techniques, working in oil and acrylics.

The course will cover how to paint light, shadows, reflections and your impressions of the fleeting changes of the world around us. You will learn about impressionist techniques and apply that knowledge to your paintings. How to mix colours accurately, how to draw accurately and how to organise your palette and materials efficiently will be developed as we paint our pictures in Constable Country…. arguably the first home of Impressionism.

Course tutor: Pat Gavin
Pat Gavin studied Painting, Illustration, History of Art and Interior Design at Hornsey College of Art. Painting has always been central to his work during his career as an illustrator, graphic designer and animator, in television for which he has won several Baftas, film and advertising.

What to Bring

I'm sure you all have your preferred paints and brushes and painting surfaces but as a general guide the following suggestions might come in handy. A colour wheel is essential, these can be purchased from all art stores. A small sketch book for notes and pencils or pens.

Paints: should be pigment rich and have a firm consistency, Michael Hardin, Gamblin, Roberson and Winsor & Newton are all good. For certain ‘Exotic’ colours Holland and Holland have some very unusual colours that can make a lot of difference in your colour designs. Try to avoid student quality paints as they have no real colour strength or body.
Brushes: Large (about 0.5 of an inch) hog bristles for moving stiff paint about and smaller nylon brushes for any over painting and detail work. Palette knives are a quick clean way of applying and moving paint.
Mediums: Linseed oil is the quickest of the drying oils but should be used sparingly. A non toxic, non smelly solvent should be used for diluting any of the paint layers and for cleaning brushes.
Painting Surfaces: Stretched canvas or boards will be fine, no bigger than 16"x12".
Lots and lots of rags

Any of the acrylic manufacturers are good….there are some new ones on the market, Pip Seymour have a particularly nice surface and colour range and LASCAUX are very good but weak at the red end of the colour range, you will need to augment the reds with a good Cadmium red from another manufacturer. Gold, Winsor&Newton and Rowney are all good.
Brushes: The same as for oils
Mediums: A slow drying (retarder) medium. A transparent glaze medium. A small water atomiser spray. A stay wet palette. If you like thick chunky paintings acrylics are good for adding thickener gels and aggregate mediums.
Painting Surfaces: The same as for oils.

Artist quality paints. Gum Arabic and a good quality paper.
Brushes: Your brushes should be of the finest quality. A couple of different shapes of brush according to taste and style. Have a main medium sized sable as your general work horse, it will have enough bristles to act as a good reservoir, enabling you to make large gestural marks and also make fine detailed marks all with the one brushes. Have a couple of small ones as a support.

If you will be redeeming a CraftCourses gift voucher on this course, the voucher code must be provided at the point of booking.

What's included in the price?

Expert tuition
Free Wi-Fi
Full board accommodation
Hot and cold drinks
In course transport
Personal and travel insurance


Field Studies Council, Flatford Mill
Flatford Mill Field Centre
East Bergholt
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