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Colour, light and space: theory into practice

Six-day practical and theoretical course

Short course

1—6 September 2018

This event has now ended

See upcoming short courses

Moses Harris, Prismatic Colour Wheel/hand-coloured etching by Moses Harris, published in M. Harris, The Natural system of colours, London (detail), c. 1785.

28.8 x 23.7 cm. Photo credit: © Royal Academy of Arts, London; Photographer: John Hammond.

A unique and immersive week-long practical and theoretical course exploring colour, light and space in art using a variety of media including dry and wet drawing materials, collage, oil and acrylic paints.

“The week has been an unbelievable journey for all of us. It has been transforming, inspiring, educational, just the most amazing experience of my entire life. It has been truly a wonderful gift that is just going to keep on giving.”
Previous week-long course participant, 2017

Colour in painting is a highly emotive subject. Much has been written about the properties and origins of pigments; indeed, the subjective associations of colour within cultures from different times and places still pervade our modern everyday lives and rituals. Scientists and writers have theorised about the properties and classifications of colour and there are several famous works in the Academy’s own archives, which will be referenced extensively in this week-long course focusing on colour.

Having a sound understanding of how colour can be organised is useful to the painter, but the challenge is putting this knowledge into practice. For example, the coloured glues of oil and acrylic paint can be notoriously difficult to control; some pigments are transparent whereas others are opaque. Coupled with a bewildering amount of mediums which can alter the consistency and sheen of a surface, it should be noted that although painters have a whole range of expressive potential at their fingertips, maximising the effectiveness of these ingredients can be a daunting endeavour; one which requires knowledge and working strategies.

Abstract painter Emyr Williams will lead this course, which will explore how the theoretical meets the practical. During the week, participants will create artworks, starting from a range of points and experiences, using colour through the mediums of collage, oil, and acrylic paints, and developing both the representational and abstract deployments of colour. Participants will explore traditional colour theory, the differences between local and synthetic colour, and colour in relation to space, surface and pictorial luminosity; working both systematically to analyse hue, saturation and tone and actively within the genres of still-life, landscape and abstraction. By making a series of individual paintings, participants will gain valuable insights into dealing with challenging technical issues, whilst simultaneously obtaining knowledge that can be used to enhance future practice and understanding.

Alongside the practical workshops there will be a series of lectures from internationally renowned art historian, Dr. Nicholas Watkins, Emeritus Reader in The School of Arts at the University of Leicester and author of over 12 books and numerous articles on colour and modern art. Lectures will include an exploration into the history and theory of colour structures, languages, meaning and content, alongside the works of French painters Pierre Bonnard, Henri Matisse and others critical to the evolution of art in the 20th and 21st centuries.

The theory will be complemented directly with practical sessions led by artist Emyr Williams. Sessions will focus on specific approaches, building up a skill-set and vocabulary over the week enabling participants to effectively use colours in isolation and in exciting combinations. The practicalities as well as the theories of working with colour will be explored through a range of painting techniques including collage, oil and acrylic paints, and working with still-life, landscape and abstraction.

The course will last six full days and is designed to provide detailed tutor feedback and maximum teaching time, to study directly from the RA’s unique teaching collection with exclusive access to its world renowned specialist facilities and expert staff.

For more information about the course timetable, and for any enquiries, please contact Mary Ealden, Academic Programmes Manager, at mary.ealden@royalacademy.org.uk / 020 7300 8079

● Fully booked

● Cancelled

1—6 September 2018

The British Academy Room and The Clore Learning Centre, Royal Academy, Burlington Gardens

£2,400. Includes all materials, light refreshments and lunch each day and drinks receptions throughout the week.