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In and out of the studio – the best way to learn landscape painting

Landscape in and out of the studio with David Sawyer.

Painting by David Sawyer using video reference

Painting landscape out of doors, en plein air, is very different from painting in the studio. Quite apart from the logistics, which are not trivial, the changing scene and the time constraints mean that one has to be highly selective about what is committed to canvas and often, as the light changes, one paints as much from memory as from life.

In the studio there is more time to consider and to explore, try things out and reflect. Some sage (Cesar Santos I believe) teaches that you need to take what you learn in the studio out with you and bring back what you learn en plein air to the studio. Both activities support each other.

When working in the studio many artists will use reference material: drawings, photos, colour studies and so on. How we work from these and how slavish we are to our sources is up to us but working from this kind of material is different from working from life. It can engage our sense of design more, but because there is more time there is a danger of becoming over involved and losing the freshness that marks out many fine plein air paintings.

David Sawyer’s studio teaching is done with video sequences shot from his easel when he is on location. The video plays on a large monitor in the studio and students paint from it with all of the passing buses, clouds and people but with none of the rain, wind or dogs investigating their packed lunch.

It works remarkably well and allows us to build a way of working out doors rather quicker than we may if we were actually outdoors. Ben Hope stood in for David a couple of times last term when David was painting with Charles and Camilla as official artist to the Royal Tour of the Caribbean.

Ben likes painting into the light, or ‘contre jour’ so he decided that he would find some live web cams around the world where we could have the light bouncing towards us on the screen. This too was a revelation and took away the security of knowing that the video loop would come around again.

When the opportunity to paint en plein air comes around what has been learnt in the studio remains a firm foundation to build upon. In terms of learning we now see this in and out of the studio process as the best way.

You can read more or sign up for David’s Autumn course here

A pregnant life model to paint for one day

Ariadne Pregnant – 2018

Do consider coming to paint pregnant Heather on Thursday. We produced some beautiful paintings the last time we had a pregnant model, Ariadne, and it turned out to be a warm and memorable day.

You can read more and sign up here

Intermediate Life Drawing course on Tuesday evenings from the 17th September is the natural follow on if you’ve completed our Introduction to Life Drawing. You can read more about this course and Sign up here

Tuesday Afternoon Short Pose Drop-in Life Drawing

Nadia is a yoga teacher who we hope will give us some challenging tortured poses for this afternoon’s short pose session.

Whilst the session runs for three hours it is possible to attend one, two or three hours, as works for you. Joining or leaving the group happens promptly on the hour. There is a tutor available although the group is officially untutored.

Cost £5 for one hour, £10 for two hours or £15 for three.
Tea and cake £1

Wednesday Drop-in long pose untutored

Second week of a three week pose with actor Stephanie in seated a wicker chair.

Cost £15 no need to book, just turn up. £1 for coffee and biscuits at 11.30am
Read more here

Wednesday Afternoon Drop-in Portraiture
2.00pm -5.00pm

Sugar is our portrait model for this week and next, she has a strong face which is well framed by a hard fringe.

Cost £20 no need to book, just turn up. Tea and cake £1

This is a drop-in group for those wanting to work on their portraiture. If you haven’t been for a while would you fill in the form and read more here so that we can keep the numbers manageable.

Thursday 10.00am – 4.00pm – drop-in but please let us know you are coming

Pregnant Life Model – one day two halves 10.00am – 4.00pm

We love painting a pregnant woman, quite apart from the physiological changes which are so interesting there is the sense that one is coming close to the very process of life which can bring an urgency to the work. Heather has kindly agreed to sit for us just for one day and you can come for the morning or the afternoon or do both and share lunch with us. Read more and sign up here

Cost £30 for the whole day, £20 for a half day.

Thursday Evening Drop-in Short Pose Untutored

Sophie is a french model who will be giving us short poses on Thursday evening. Short towards longer, ending in some ten minute poses.

Thursday evenings 7.30-9.30pm Cost £10.

Friday Drop-in Long pose untutored

Agni will be starting a three week pose for us This Friday afternoon. Agni is a performance artist with an interest in shamanistic journeys which may explain the large bone on her head in this photo.

Cost £15, no need to book, just turn up. £1 for tea and cake at 3.30pm
More info here

Saturday Drop-in Long Pose Untutored Life Drawing and Painting

Second week with Rebecca sitting cross legged, with a further week to follow.

Cost £15 – no need to book, just turn up. £1 for coffee and biscuits at 11.30am


Alison and Simon

Dulwich Art Group Organisers
Alison on 07968 063523
Simon on 07704 450169
Our venue is at 4a Champion Hill SE5 8AH you can find out how to get there here

Quick links to our educational courses here:

Clare HawardPainting in oils on Mondays and Monday Evenings
Skills Part One: The Elements of Drawing on Tuesday Mornings
Life Drawing: Intermediate Life Drawing – chief tutor Simon Dunstan Tuesday Evenings
Alex Tzavaras: Introduction to painting from life on Tuesday Evenings
Alex Tzavaras: Portrait class on Wednesday evenings
David Sawyer: Landscape Painting on Thursdays
An Introduction to Life Drawing with Alison Packer and Simon Dunstan is on Thursday evenings
Skills Part Two: Introducing Oil Painting on Friday Mornings