Tuesday – Mass Drawing and Oil Painting with Alex Tzavaras


Tuesdays for twelve weeks
Times: 10.00am-4.00pm or 7.00pm-9.30pm
Summer term: 17th April – 10th July 2018
Half term 29th May

  • Learn traditional techniques of drawing and painting from life.
  • Discover a simple method for drawing accurate proportion
  • Use light and dark tonal “values” to create a sense of volume.
  • Introduce colour using a defined colour strategy for sparkling luminous images

Up until the start of the 20th century, the age old techniques and practices developed by artists to depict the world accurately formed the mainstay of art education. However when representational art went out of fashion, these traditional methods stopped being taught in art schools. So how can we expect to get better at drawing and painting from life without access to this valuable information?

MASS DRAWING is a fundamental principle much used by artists like John Singer Sargent. It is essential for painting in a direct “Alla Prima” manner. Oil paint is a fluid medium, therefore we cannot render the outlines and details the way we do with a pencil. In order to paint we have to simplify this surface information into larger underlying shapes or “masses”. When painting, it’s much easier to work with large shapes. Learning to see these large masses and draw them correctly before attempting the smaller shapes and details can be called MASS DRAWING.

Alex says: “MASS DRAWING is the foundation of my whole approach to drawing and painting. I was introduced to the exercises and techniques you will learn on this course over a decade ago. The more familiar I’ve become with them the more I realize how valuable they are. They are probably the single most important thing I know about painting!”


Portrait of Mark by Alex Tzavaras

Alex’s way of teaching is progressive so that he will start everyone off by drawing very simply with paint. Once this has been mastered greater complexity and sophistication is introduced so that first proportion then tone and finally colour rendering become second nature.

David Hodgson says

” I came to Alex’s class as a complete beginner in oil painting. He taught us all aspects of using oil paints, brushes, canvas, palettes, cleaning etc.
We also learned the mass technique of painting which is easy to understand but tricky to master but Alex patiently corrected our technique and by the end of the course we had a painting to be proud of.
A very informative and successful course, highly recommended!”

Alex learnt and then taught at the Lavender Hill Studios, in our opinion he was the finest portrait artist to emerge from there. The way he teaches has evolved from their approach although he has simplified it further in his project to help others learn to paint.

Jane Campion says:

“I’ve completed a term’s study with Alex, having attended many other schools and courses.  He offered clear teaching from his own history acquiring superb, professional painting skills. This was first-hand stuff. …. Alex gives clear step-by-step instructions, layering them as we gained in competence each week, leaving plenty of room for every student to develop a mature, unique style.  And he’s great fun to work with.”

Below is how Alex will teach us to work first with simple shapes and values then methodically refine as we go. If you can do this, you can paint.



The evening class will act as a foundation to Alex’s approach so that ideally you’d start there and then progress on to the day class. This will not be possible for everyone so those joining the day class as newbies will be given the foundation alongside others working at different levels. It is also possible to come for a half day rather than the full day, you choose morning or afternoon.

During the day classes we will progress towards working from the life model, the evening classes will focus on still life.

Course fees

12 weeks day class : £595
12 weeks half day class £350 (Mornings)
12 weeks evening class: £350

Concessions may be available, please call to discuss.

If you’d like to talk to Alex about this course his phone number is 07717 886609


If you’d like to attend this workshop please register your interest by filling in the form below and paying a £50 deposit to secure your place. We will assume you are signing up for the next term unless you tell us otherwise.


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