Thursday, 17 May 2018

Lilies, compresed charcoal

Students hard at work, studying tonal values.
 It was great to get into the easel room in my studio for the first time, and give students a chance to work on larger subjects, with the option of standing up. It's good to vary the way we approach drawing and painting, and everyone enjoyed the new space. Each easel has it's own book case, to store materials and bags, and this will double up as excellent shelving for still life subjects in future.
Paul's drawing coming along nicely
 For this session, students drew a large cluster of lilies, working out how to tackle a complex arrangement, using tones to help define areas, and avoiding too many lines.
A lovely study by Clive

Ben adding some finishing touches

Brigid's lovely drawing, completed over two sessions
After much huffing and puffing, wonderful results were achieved - it's amazing the difference a background makes too. Students worked on a light-tone neuetral paper, and the aim was to cover the entire surface with chalk, as the colour itself wasn't particularly attractive. Getting the right tonal value behind the flower set off the subject dramatically.
Some students were having a little trouble getting onto their high stool, but luckily Mark found a baby-stool to help Sara reach her easel!
Sara's lovely drawing - worth the climb!
Pam bonding with Minnie. Every studio needs a dog!  
Margery spent two sessions developing her drawing, which was wonderful
Pow's lovely artwork 
Barbara's artwork, which ended up dramatic and powerful. 
I am having an Open Studio on Friday 15th June. Everyone is welcome.

For info on up coming workshops please email

Friday, 4 May 2018

New Studio, new classes!

I'm thrilled to be able to share that I have moved into new studio space, in what until recently was a Primary School, and am shaping it up into a spacious, comfortable contemporary atelier environment. I found it at the beginning of April, and in three very busy weeks, with the help of lots of student volunteers, have made it feel like home.

The walk-in film was made after a couple of weeks, so things have moved a little further since, but it gives you an idea..! 

 The photos below show how the rooms were three weeks ago - huge, and looking like a primary school class room. Large, with potential...

 But much work to be done. I started by removing everything from the walls, including hundreds of staples... and started painting.

 After several days working on it, the heavy brigade arrived - my volunteer students, armed with tool boxes, and scrubbing brushes.
 Glynis, Mark and me in the middle, Miss Rubber-Gloves. 

Merlynne and I painting. By now, the task seemed never-ending.. 

Ben, with roller
Rory, strong and helpful

Lost count of the number of trips to Ikea... 

Alan assembling a table, and his family and Rory tackling the chairs

Jim, modelling this year's best overalls... 

After the furntiture was all assembled...

My turn, to get the curtains ready to block the south facing sunlight during classes
 So, it's not finished yet - the easels room (which now includes a piano!) has yet to be painted, but I will keep going until all is done!
Students tt work in the easels room - Paul and Alison


Brigid and Julie

Jackie, Robert, Mark, Sara, Gllynis

Every studio needs a friendly dog. Pam tickling Minnie 
A morning class in the drawing room. 

Thursday night class, hard at work
Ann, Kate, Jim using water colour
I am so grateful to all the volunteers, and may call on you again...!!

There will be two studio open evenings in June, and everyone is invited. I will keep you posted.

All my classes are now at the new venue and I now have space and easels to offer life drawing sessions. For details of upcoming workshops please email

Saturday, 7 April 2018

A montage of student artwork from Belfast this month...

 A LOT of artwork is produced by my students and I thought it would be good to show you a mixture.  These are all from the weekly classes, where students have just a couple of hours to work.
The weekly oils class,  including Sandra accidentally painting her own arm..! Drawing is included in the class, and you see some pastels here too. 
Although everyone usually looks very serious in photos, it's only because they are concentrating - they're having a lovely time really!
Irises from a catch-up session, and a selection of subjects from other classes. The Thursday group are waving (either that or they're crying for help...). 

Paul and Alan (top), and Pam and Carolyn (middle) bravely turning up when all other students were snowed in. Artworks in coloured pencil or water colours. Cathy putting final touches on her fabulous glass painting. 

From sweets in coloured pencil to tin foil in water colour..

More lovely examples, from bananas to landscapes. 

Friday, 6 April 2018

Summer workshops in Belfast 2018

This summer Belfast Academy of Realist Art is holding a variety of workshops with artists from around the world. The programme is designed to include workshops to suit all levels of experience - if you are unsure of your level, please just get in touch to be guided in the right direction. 

July 1st-5th: Intensive drawing and oil painting workshop with Julie Douglas. This popular workshop takes you through the full process of making a painting - from planning your arrangements, drawing it, transferring onto canvas, colour mixing and painting. You will produce several studies during the week, in black and white as well as full colour. A lovely intensive hands-on workshop, fully tutored which will improve your confidence and provide you with new skills. We will work using still life subjects and include looking at flesh tones if time permits. Cost £575 which includes all materials and lovely home-made lunch. 10am-5pm. 

Mixing and matching

Some of Tess's studies
July 21st-22nd: Drawing and watercolour workshop. A lovely weekend to improve your watercolour skills. We will look at location drawing, pen and wash and the best way to approach a painting when you're on holiday. Cost £260 which includes all materials and lovely lunch. 

July 28th: Portrait drawing workshop, with model. How to measure the face and use tones to create the likeness. Cost £130 which includes all materials and lovely lunch. 

Tess painting her oils
lovely student studies
 August 13th-17th: Drawing, composition and colour mixing: your foundation to successful painting with Julie Douglas. This workshop is designed to help your drawing skills in order to improve your paintings. Many people have doubts about their drawing skills, and prefer to go straight to paint. This doesn't pay off in the long run; students quickly find that their lack of drawing is holding them back. When we paint, we use our 'drawing eyes' regarding placement, proportion, relative values, composition, gesture, and balance. When we paint, we need to have our attention on the colour and mixing; if we can't draw, our attention is seriously diverted, so painting becomes more frustrating and seemingly mysterious!

This is the perfect lead into Mr Angel's workshop (see below), or any world-class atelier-based masterclass. Cost: £500 which includes some materials. A list will be provided upon booking. 
Examples of techniques,  work in progress (on the left, Mark is doing a bit of face-painting! oops!) 
August 19th-27th: PAINTING  FROM VERMEER, AND OTHERS: from underpainting to glazes, with maestro Michael John Angel, from The Angel Academy of art, Florence. I am delighted to be welcoming Mr Angel to Belfast where he will deliver a newly designed workshop, perfect for understanding the oil painting process, including colour studies and glazes. Cost £1280.00  Please book using  For details please click here (or copy and paste):

Maestro Michael John Angel in Belfast

Maestro Michael John Angel in Belfast

August 30th & 31st: The Munsell Colour System, with Paul Foxton. Paul is well known for his blog, Learning to See' and has an international following. I am delighted to welcome him to deliver this workshop. Cost: £250 which includes lunch and some materials. 

The excellent Paul Foxton 

Discount offers: If you wish to attend two or more AUGUST workshops, you will recieve a 10% discount for bookings made before 1st June. HURRY! 

September, Date TBC: five day drawing and oils with Julie Douglas and PJ Lynch. PJ and Julie have designed this workshop together, so that students get the best of both tutor's experience. We will cover life drawing, portrait drawing, portrait and still life using charcoal, pencils and oils. A full-on roller-coaster with the emphasis on learning in an enjoyable environment. 
PJ Lynch portrait demo in Belfast. Photo by David Bell. 

For information on any of these workshops please email

Michael John Angel Masterclass, Belfast 2018! August 19th–27th

I am delighted to announce that Maestro Michael John Angel will be teaching a workshop in Belfast in  August 2018. An incredibly generous teacher, Mr Angel will deliver an eight day workshop guiding students through the full process of creating a successful painting in oils. The workshop is a wonderful opportunity to benefit from the atelier system, with intensive tuition delivering knowledge gathered from a lifetime of experience. 

Your options for your larger, complete painting. 

Course Description
PAINTING  FROM VERMEER, AND OTHERS: from underpainting to glazes. 

Examples of some of the sketch-studies from the beginning of the workshop

In this newly designed workshop, maestro Michael John Angel will  concentrate on working from the general-to-the-specific: guiding students through several small sketches (such as those above) from a 3-value plan to a roughly-painted colour 'finish'. The course begins with 
a few basic exercises and includes various demonstrations in proportion, gesture, under-drawing and oil-painting materials. The subjects for these (which will be supplied by Mr Angel) will be varied and include figure, portrait and landscape. We will also produce a simple rendering of a figure from a drawing (see example below). 

Once these are completed, students will move on to their larger oil painting in full colour (of the option you have selected from those listed above) using the techniques we have been learning. Throughout the workshop Mr Angel gives painting demonstrations that clarify each stage of the painting process. This will include the glazing process, which we will study in the exercise below. 

Students will also receive various pdf handouts, with illustrations, that encapsulate the methods of painting and drawing in a realistic manner. Other pdf handouts will explain the different grounds, materials and mediums used in oil painting and describe the various layers used in a 19th-century underpainting-overpainting oil technique. Mr Angel will be painting much of the time in the studio, which gives students the fantastic experience of understanding brush handling, paint mixing and so on, by watching as well as listening. Demonstration pieces will be available to purchase at the end of the workshop. 

The daily routine is as follows: days 1-4  (Sunday - Wednesday) studio 10am-5pm. Thursday is a day off. Days 5- 8 (Friday - Monday, studio 10am-5pm. NB: Studio will be open from 9.15am to allow preparation time.
(If students wish to have access to the studio on Thursday, we can discuss that during the early part of the course, but students will need a break in order to complete the eight days.)

Class of 2017!

Maestro at work.
Mr Angel is highly regarded as one of the foremost figurative painters, and his paintings and portraits hang in both public and private collections worldwide. For the last 20 years, he has been the Director of Studies and senior instructor at the Angel Academy of Art, Florence. 

Mr Angel explaining techniques during class in Belfast, 2017

Mr Angel working on a beautiful demonstration painting.
Pauline at work
Gennie working
Judy, checking her work upside-down! 
Nearly finished! 

Mr Angel has taught workshops in Florence, in Toronto and at the American Academy of Art in Chicago. He also lectures at the Florentine campuses of several American universities and at various private schools in Rome and in North America. From 1982 to 1988 he was the Director of the National Portrait Academy in Toronto, Canada, and from 1992 to 1995 the Assistant Director of the Florence Academy of Art in Florence, Italy. As an ARC living master, Mr Angel is considered one of the most inspiring and successful teachers in classical and traditional art today.

A short biography can be found at He is listed in the Art Renewal Center’s Living Masters gallery and is one of the ARC’s Board of Judges. As well as judging the ARC’s Annual International Salon, he is a judge on several other national and international painting juries, such as the Collection Beaux-Arts Réaliste, IlluxCon, and the Portrait Society of Canada.

What is the difference between attending a workshop in Belfast, compared to elsewhere? Well, it's the Irish welcome! Students (and maestro!) love coming to Belfast. The locals are friendly, and you will be well looked after by Julie Douglas, who will do her best to accommodate your creative needs. Julie has been teaching drawing and painting for many years and is therefore your best hands-on co-ordinator. She will liaise with local art suppliers to ensure the correct materials are available and she also arranges group evenings so that students get to know each other. This is great fun and a bonus, as many students come from all around the world. It's good to make friends. One student from Dubai said "Julie thinks of the details that make all the difference". Julie has been honoured to collaborate with Mr Angel on several workshops and expects that this one will be the best yet! Hope to see you there! 

At the Italian restaurant...
The last night! Julie Douglas (left) with Maudy. 
A very happy group, at the end of last year's workshop. 

Further Workshop Details:
The workshop includes 42 hours tuition. Class runs from 10am-5pm daily (see above for the day off) with a 1-hour lunch break.  
Individual and group critiques
Painting demonstrations by Mr Angel
Discussions on materials and techniques 

COST: £1280 to include instruction, tea/coffee and some materials. 
A list of materials (paint and brushes) will be sent upon booking a place.

Terms & Conditions:
A 50% non-refundable deposit is required to hold your place. Full payment must be received by 1st July 2017, and if that time has passed, payment in full is due upon booking. 
Minimum number of students is 10.

Not included:
Accommodation and flights, transport and all other personal costs.  Fees are non refundable unless the course is cancelled for any reason. 
If traveling, it is recommended that you take out insurance to cover costs in the unlikely event of cancellation etc. 
If necessary, we reserve the right to replace the tutor in an emergency. 

Details of accommodation near the studio will be provided upon booking. 

For booking information and all enquiries please email 

Belfast is a vibrant city with a warm friendly atmosphere. If you are traveling for this course, you will find lots of things in the city to enjoy in the days before or after the workshop.


'Drawing, composition and colour mixing: your foundation to successful painting' with Julie Douglas August 13 - 17th. This is the perfect lead in to Mr Angel's workshop. For info please click here (or copy and paste):

'The Munsell Colour System' with Paul Foxton, August Thurs 30th & Fri 31st August. Paul, based in the UK, writes the famous blog 'Learning to See'. For info please click here (or copy and paste)