The expressiveness of colour

Practical evening course

Courses and Classes

● Fully booked

  • 26 April 2017, 6.15 — 9.15pm
  • 3 May 2017, 6.15 — 9.15pm
  • 10 May 2017, 6.15 — 9.15pm
  • 17 May 2017, 6.15 — 9.15pm

Priority booking for Friends of the RA opens on 7 February 2017 at 1pm. Booking opens to the public on 9 February 2017 at 1pm.

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.

Explore the relationship between theory and practice in colour painting in this practical course. Participants will be able to use a range of materials, with a specific focus on acrylic paint, to discover new strategies for reworking paintings in colour.

Colour is a highly emotive issue in painting and how we perceive it is essentially dependent upon its surface. Subtle shifts of transparency, lustre or viscosity can provide through their tactility significantly different visual experiences. Interestingly, modern acrylic paints afford contemporary artists an unprecedented array of colours and consistencies to work with. Painting is unique as an art form; what we apprehend at light speed has often been hard wrought and carefully crafted over a considerable time. An artist has to learn how to handle their materials before they can make anything expressive. Extending and improving this handling of materials will ensure that the emotional resonance of colour can be magnified and given greater significance and meaning in one’s practice.

Through a direct and forthright use of paint we can gain an insight into the role and nature of colour in art and the value and affect of the surface in a painting. The surface is the reality of the painting. Working spontaneously often comes at a price of clarity and ultimately force, yet with strategies and a greater understanding of what colour can do through paint handling can produce thought provoking results that will not just look exciting as works of art in their own right but can inform future decision-making in colour painting. Time will be factored into each practical session to reflect and respond in more personal ways to the use of colour. We will also investigate the debate on whether seeing and using colour is purely a subjective experience or not.

As well as making art, we will look at some historical developments in the use of colour from around the world, plus discover further insights into the use of colour and paint through the historic collection at the RA.

Wednesday 26 April
Session one will explore:
- Mixing colour and preparing coloured surfaces
- Colour theory: primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary colour; earths; tints and tones
- An historical look at colour from different times and cultures

Wednesday 3 May
Session two will explore:
- The layering of colour and the implementation of complements and harmonies
- Edges, instances, direction and pace
- An historical look at colour from different times and cultures

Wednesday 10 May
Session three will explore:
- Looking at mediums and how they affect surface
- Creating different factures through experimental techniques
- An historical look at colour from different times and cultures

Wednesday 17 May
Session four will explore:
- Making abstract paintings
- The importance of modification, being ambitious and taking risks. Looking at scale and contrast
- A look at key works of art with fresh eyes

● Fully booked

● Cancelled

  • 26 April 2017, 6.15 — 9.15pm
  • 3 May 2017, 6.15 — 9.15pm
  • 10 May 2017, 6.15 — 9.15pm
  • 17 May 2017, 6.15 — 9.15pm

The Life Room, Royal Academy Schools

£420. Includes all materials and a drinks reception at the end of the final session.

Priority booking for Friends of the RA opens on 7 February 2017 at 1pm. Booking opens to the public on 9 February 2017 at 1pm.