Still Life in Oils

April 29 - May 17 (3 weeks) & October 7 - October 18 (2 weeks)
10AM - 1.30PM
Tuition Cost:
On request
Application Deadline:
One month prior to commencement
Level of Difficulty:
Accessible to students of all levels.
Atelier Canova studio
Class Size:
4 students
Mandarines, Oil on panel by Andrea J Smith

Mandarins, Oil on panel by Andrea J Smith


There are many aspects to this course. We begin with a slide show outlining the historical development of the still life genre, and finish with a salute to some more contemporary artists. Composition is discussed as all the students begin to plan their own still life arrangement emphasising simple and clean shapes, and paying particular attention to complementary colour schemes. The drawing is executed in charcoal using the “sight-size” drawing technique. Colour theory is addressed and each student begins their painting with a quick colour sketch. This stage is supplemented by a formal demonstration of how to arrange your palette (and why a limited colour palette is recommended). Colour theory also includes an explanation of the importance of chroma, as well as opaque versus transparent pigments.

A student's still life work in progress

A student’s colour study

A student's finished still life

A student’s finished still life


We will follow these simple steps; introduction and history lecture – theory of composition – colour study – charcoal drawing – colour painting.

Copper Ladel, Oil on canvas by Andrea J Smith

Copper Ladle, Oil on canvas by Andrea J Smith an example used in the composition lecture

A tutorial at Harlem Studio of Art, NY

A tutorial at Harlem Studio of Art, NY

Golden Pears, still life by Andrea J Smith

Golden Pears, Oil on canvas by Andrea J Smith. An example used in the ‘technical process’ lecture

Student’s various still life set ups

A students still life set up at the Harlem Studio of Art in New York A student's still life set up
A student's still life set up A student's still life set up


Some painting experience is preferred- particularly in oil painting. Also remember that any Bargue drawing experience is helpful. Students are asked to choose and assemble their own compositions but please keep in mind that “less is more”, and the subject matter should be simple. Please AVOID such things as patterned ceramics, multi coloured objects, decorative fabrics and anything that will deteriorate over the three weeks.

A still life set up by Andrea J Smith

Three phases of a still life. The colour study on the left, the set up in the center, and to the right, the initial sketch in charcoal.

Tomatoes with Green Stripe, finished still life by Andrea J Smith

The finished still life