Friday – Skills

A foundation in the elements of visual art

For beginners or advanced artists with gaps in their skills set.

Chief Tutor Simon Dunstan.

Friday mornings 9.30am-12.30pm
Summer Term May 3rd – July 26th
Half term May 31st

  • Learn the essential skills that have supported artists since the renaissance.
  • Study in three week chunks for maximum flexibility
  • Become fluent in your own visual language
  • Dry media and wet media
  • Work from still life and the model

The skills we will be studying during this foundation course are the basic currency of the image maker. We all need to be able to draw. We all need a working understanding of line, tone and shape. And most of us will also want a firm grasp of colour and composition.

This course will take you from line drawing through proportion to tonal drawing and on to colour representation in oil paint. As such it forms a complete foundation to painting and may be undertaken in an unbroken sequence or in a series of interspersed steps. Consider combining it with our drop-in groups and our Introduction to Life Drawing.

We will be following a path well trodden, even if, in this age of Instagram and high concepts, it is over-covered in leafmould and moss.

Ruskin, who by coincidence lived very near our studio, outlined the elements of drawing in “Three Letters to Beginners“. He saw the development of perception as the most important skill and all of the practical tasks he suggests go towards this greater objective.

Our course draws on his approach beginning with the most basic mark making, the vowels and consonants of the visual language. It proceeds through all of the elements towards complete fluency in image making.

The course is nominally divided up into 12 exercises but depending upon students individual skills and time commitments it may take longer than twelve weeks to complete. The reason it is divided up into three week chunks is really to make it easier for you to fit it in to your life.

You may join the course at any point and there is no difficulty in some students working on lesson one whilst others are on lesson seven or nine. We will start with mark making and the progress through the lessons going faster where there is competency and taking time where there are skills to be built up.

The exercises will be as follows:

  • Lesson 1 Mark making
  • Lesson 2 Gradated tone
  • Lesson 3 Contours
  • Lesson 4 Shape
  • Lesson 5 Controlling value
  • Lesson 6 Volume or form
  • Lesson 7 How light falls
  • Lesson 8 Form and colour
  • Lesson 9 Colour school
  • Lesson 10 Drawing more organic shapes
  • Lesson 11 Drawing complexity
  • Lesson 12 Cross contour drawing

No harm will come from not completing all lessons and there are plenty of professional artists who keep coming back to aspects of this course to strengthen their skills.

We will be working mostly from observation so this will include still life and 2d reference in a studio setting. You will be challenged but you may progress at your own pace: there will be agreed way marks, when you arrive at them is up to you.

It is also being offered in a new flexible format. Each twelve week term is broken up into four parts of three consecutive mornings. This makes the course both affordable and flexible.

Simon Dunstan is a founder of the Dulwich Art Group and School who after a career innovating in digital image making fell back in love with analogue media. He now spends much of his time painting and running DAGAS. (Dulwich Art Group And School)

Alice by Simon Dunstan, Oil on Canvas

He is a respected oil painter and has extensive knowledge about the methodology of image making. He will direct the course with support from other professional artists where appropriate.

Course fees

12 weeks £350

You can secure your place on the course by paying a £50 deposit. The balance will be due one week before the commencement of the course. Failure to pay the balance on time could lead to losing your place and your deposit.


To register please fill in the form below and pay the £50 deposit by clicking on the button below the form.

Pay your £50 deposit securely by clicking the button below.