Classical Art Atelier

Introduction to Classical Painting

10-Week Course with Adrian Cooke

This course focuses on the essential skills and techniques of classical realist painting in oils.

The format follows the traditional atelier method, beginning with campitura preparation and the dry-brush drawing and design stages, and then progressing into monochrome painting, or grisaille, where you will begin to become acquainted with the unique characteristics of the oil paint medium. You will then work with a limited colour palette.

This course is suitable not only for beginners, but also for advanced artists, as quite often some very basic skills and techniques need to be practised and reinforced. It will take place at Coastguard Cultural Centre, TRAMORE, CO. WATERFORD starting Wednesday, 15 January, and at St. Patrick's Parish Centre, KILKENNY CITY starting Friday, 10 January 2020.


Over the course of 10 weeks, working progressively through a series of simple steps, you will learn how to create complex, realistic and luminous paintings - from portraits to figures to still lifes. You will develop many oil painting skills and techniques including how to:

  • Simplify shapes and structures in grisaille
  • Mix natural skin tones with a limited palette
  • Softly and subtly model form
  • Build up colours with increasing intensity
  • Think in layers of translucent colour glazes
  • Canvas and basic materials*
  • 10% off art supplies
  • Handouts
  • Practical exercises
  • Demonstrations
  • Slide & video presentations

*Students will be required to bring certain materials.

Monochrome Painting

Design, Line, Value and Form

The first steps in painting make no use of colour - instead, they focus on a technique known as grisaille, which uses only monochrome tones (usually of grey, hence the French, "gris" in "grisaille"). This technique allows you to become accustomed to the unique characteristics of the oil paint medium, how to work with it (and your brushes) and how to mix, understand and apply values and render form.

You will work on several exercises including matching a value strip, rendering an object and painting a plaster cast using the grisaille system.

If you hear a voice within you saying you cannot paint, then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced. Vincent Van Gogh
Colour Painting

Limited Zorn Palette

The Zorn palette refers to a palette of colours developed by the Swedish artist, Anders Zorn (1860-1920). It consists of just FOUR colours: yellow ochre, ivory black, vermilion, and titanium white. Cadmium red light is commonly used in place of vermilion by modern day artists. This may seem like an extremely limited range of colours, but Zorn has demonstrated through his paintings just what is possible with such a limited palette.

By the end of the course, you will have learned a step-by-step method for creating a realistic full colour painting. Organising your palette, colour theory and mixing, dry brush method, and edge quality will also be covered, discussed and demonstrated.

Painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do. Edgar Degas

Booking Details

The Introduction to Classical Painting Course will be held in Tramore, Co. Waterford, and Kilkenny City, starting in January 2020. See details below, or contact us to find out more and to enrol.
Receive a 10% discount when you book before Friday, 13 December 2019!

# Venue Duration Dates Times Price
1 Coastguard Cultural Centre,
Tramore, Co. Waterford
10 weeks 15 Jan.-25 Mar. 2020 2-4.30pm Fully Booked
2 St. Patrick's Parish Centre,
10 weeks 10 Jan.-13 Mar. 2020 10am-12.30pm € 200

Important Notes

  • Fees are non-refundable and non-transferrable.
  • Classical Art Atelier reserves the right to cancel any course or workshop at any time if the minimum number of students required is not reached. In such cases, your fee will be fully refunded.
  • This is an oil painting course, and uses oil paints, solvents and mediums (such as mineral spirits, turpentine and linseed oil) that have a small and safe degree of toxicity but can emit strong fumes, which may cause headaches, drowsiness and skin irritations. Our classrooms are well-ventilated but please be aware that we cannot eradicate these fumes completely, and that by enrolling on this course you are accepting these conditions.

About Adrian Cooke

Painting Instructor

Adrian Cooke has been working as an artist for over 25 years, initially pursuing an education and career in classical music - piano and music composition (1996-2002), and later spending 10 years working in graphic design.

Largely a self-taught visual artist, he began his training in classical drawing and painting in 2012, taking courses at The Drawing Studio, Dublin, Vitruvian Studio, Chicago, and Watts Atelier in California. He is continuing to study classical painting at the Florence Academy of Art this year. His first exhibition was a series of classical portraits and master copy drawings at 33 The Mall, Waterford, in 2014.

This kind of education in classical realist drawing and painting is just not available in mainstream third-level art colleges here in Ireland, so it was necessary for me to look elsewhere, at specialised international fine art academies, to learn these traditional painting and drawing techniques and practices. Hopefully, in turn, my school and I can now provide this much sought after training for other artists. Adrian Cooke, Artist and Director at Classical Art Atelier

In 2015, Adrian established his own private art school, Classical Art Atelier, which operates at most major arts and education venues across the south of Ireland. He has been teaching there for the last 5 years, and his school has enrolled several hundred students to date from all kinds of artistic backgrounds, both amateur and professional, and from all over Ireland and abroad.

Adrian works predominantly in traditional drawing and painting media, regarding these fundamental skills and techniques as essential building blocks for his own work. His artistic style, though, would be better described as Abstract Realism.

Materials Lists


Stretched and unstretched canvas will be provided by the academy. However, it is imperative that you bring a portfolio case large enough to fit a canvas 50x40cm or some other means of taking your wet canvases home with you. Your work will not be stored by the academy. You will need to bring a certain amount of materials yourself. All materials and art supplies are available at Cork Art Supplies, where you will be entitled to a 10% discount upon enrolling for this workshop, or at Jackson's Art Supplies UK

Oil Colours
  • Titanium White
  • Ivory Black
  • Burnt Umber
  • Raw Umber
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Cadmium Yellow Medium
  • Vermillion
  • Cadmium Red Medium
  • Alizarin Crimson
  • French Ultramarine Blue

Optional Extras

  • Lamp Black
  • Venetian Red
  • Red Umber
  • Cadmium Orange
  • 4 x Bristle Filbert (size 4 or 6)
  • 2 x Soft Synthetic Filbert (size 8)
  • 1 x Soft Filbert (size 12)
  • 1 x Soft Round (size 1)
  • 1 x Soft Fan Brush (size 6 or 8)
  • Liquin
  • Fast Drying Linseed Oil
  • Odourless or Low Odour Mineral Spirits (or Turpentine)
  • Wooden Palette
  • Palette Knife
  • Palette Cups
  • Glass Jar
  • Paper Towels
  • Masking Tape
  • Skewer or knitting needle
  • Mahlstick
  • Portfolio Case
Introduction to Classical Painting Workshop

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