Oil Painting for Beginners to Intermediate

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

This course is designed for anyone who has wanted to learn the fundamentals of oil painting. We will cover the basics of how to arrange an oil palette and mixing an initial nine pools of colour from light to dark. How to paint a range of objects, starting with the monochromatic before moving on to colour. While developing the knowledge of the relationship of both drawing and the modelling of form to painting, the main aim of this class will be to see and correctly record tone. Some prior drawing experience is recommended but not essential. Beginner to intermediate experience.


  • Week 1: In the first introductory class students will make a drawing of a prescribed white object, either a skull or copy of an antique statue. The aim of this class will be to establish the scale and proportions of the object that will begin to be painted in the following week. Students must bring paper, willow charcoal, an eraser along with large metal clips to attach their drawing to the support provided.
  • Week 2: Students will prime their canvas with a thin neutral colour well in advance of the second class and transfer their drawing to the support (This will be discussed in detail at the beginning of Week 1). In this class we will discuss how to arrange an oil palette and mix nine pools of colour for painting. The remainder of the class will address how to broadly see and block in the major tonal masses of the object and background.
  • Week 3-4: Depending on the level of each student, we will continue to address the major tonal masses, or move on to more specific gradations of light and shade.
  • Week 5-6: Portrait sitting. Students will be guided through the process of painting a portrait. Arranging a nine pool colour palette. Laying in the main tonal masses. Establishing successive bands of tone. The anatomical structure of the head and composition will also be addressed.

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Gain an understanding of and an ability to record tonal values in oil painting.
  2. Learn to empricially observe and address the interelationship of form, tone and volume in any object.
  3. Percieve of colour in relation to tone.
  4. Gain an understanding of how to compose a portrait.
  5. Lay in and refining flesh tones.
  6. Understand the strcuture of the head and its relationship to the the body.
  7. Make use of and identify a variety of painting materials.


  • 2x sticks of willow charcoal
  • Kneadable eraser
  • 1x A3 sheet of drawing paper
  • Paper clips for support
  • Large inexpensive wooden palette
  • Palette knife
  • Linen rags or paper towels for cleaning.
  • Linseed oil
  • Glass jar with lid
  • 6x oil painting brushes (I recommend Isabey synethetic)
  • Stretched and primed cotton or linen canvas 24cm x 36cm
  • Initial Oil Paints: Titanium white, Yellow ochre, Burnt umber, Mars Black, Cadmium Red

IMPORTANT: Please arrive to the first class with all the relevant materials. A lack of materials is not just a handicap to you but to the ability to teach. Materials cost is not included in a course fee. In the event of a course being cancelled WEA cannot be held responsible for the purchase of any course materials. We therefore suggest you purchase your materials closer to the time of the course commencing.


  • The Art Scene, UNSW Art & Design Campus, Greens Rd Paddington NSW. Ph: 8815 1569
  • The Art Scene, West Ryde, Ph: 9807 6900 (incl. online shop)
  • Bondi Road Art Supplies 179 Bondi Road Bondi. Ph: 9387 3746. (Closed Fridays and Sundays)
  • Eckersley’s Art and Craft Store 93 York Street Sydney, Ph: 02 9299 4151. Also at North Sydney, St Leonards, Chatswood, Caringbah, Parramatta & more.

Enquire at your art shop for a Student’s Discount with your WEA course receipt.