Classical Art Atelier

Copying the 19th-Century Nude Figure Painting

5-Week Course with Adrian Cooke

This short 5-week course focuses on the essential skills and techniques of classical realist painting in oils, and introduces you to the principles and techniques currently being taught at the realist painting academies in Florence and elsewhere in Europe. Students will learn these skills through the completion of a master copy of a figure painting from the 19th century.

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 St. Patrick's Gateway Centre, WATERFORD (evening course) starting Monday, 20 April, at St. Patrick's Parish Centre, KILKENNY (morning course) starting Friday, 24 April, and at Wexford Arts Centre, WEXFORD (morning course) starting Monday, 27 April 2020.


Copying master paintings is one of the best ways to improve one’s painting skills, whether one is an established artist or a beginner. Painting the human figure offers the greatest scope for dealing with gesture, proportion and subtle colour. This intensive course starts with learning the principles of academic oil painting.

Beginning with the use of the dry-brush method, Adrian will teach and demonstrate how to measure and capture accurate proportions, and how to emphasise a good sense of gesture in the figure. This process is all explained through a cohesive step-by-step procedure designed to enhance the student's ability to render the human form. Each student can choose an image from which to copy for their master copy exercise.

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.

Getting Started

Preliminary Exercises

The first week will be devoted to shorter exercises, mainly in grisaille (or monochrome paint), which will serve to strengthen your understanding of the gesture, proportion and construction of the figure.

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.

The knowledge of all things is possible. Leonardo Da Vinci
Master Copy Painting

The 19th-Century Nude

Weeks two through five will be spent working on your master copy painting. You will have a choice of 4 or 5 paintings from which to copy. You will learn about drawing with the brush, the creation of volumes, the use of a set palette, and the mixing of flesh tones for full-colour painting.

You will receive detailed handouts that explain the correct methods of using oil paint. These handouts will lay out the various grounds, materials and mediums used in oil painting and also describe the various layers used in the classic underpainting-overpainting method, that will be covered in this course.

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.

A painter must not only be of necessity an imitator of the works of nature... But he must be as necessarily an imitator of the works of other painters: this appears more humiliating, but is equally true; and no man can be an artist, whatever he may suppose, upon any other terms. Sir Joshua Reynolds

Booking Details

Copying the 19th-Century Nude Painting Course will be held in Wexford and Waterford, starting in April 2020. See details below, or contact us to find out more and to enrol.

# Venue Duration Dates Times Price
1 St. Patrick's Gateway Centre WATERFORD 5 weeks 20 April - 18 May 2020 7.00-9.30pm € 150
2 Patrick's Parish Centre KILKENNY 5 weeks 24 April - 22 May 2020 10am-12.30pm € 150
3 Wexford Arts Centre WEXFORD 5 weeks 27 April - 21 May 2020
Please see Important Notes
10am-12.30pm € 150

Important Notes

  • Wexford Arts Centre course dates: Monday 27 April, Thursday 7 May, Monday 11 & 18 May, and Thursday 21 May 2020.
  • 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
  • Cadmium Red Medium
  • Alizarin Crimson
  • French Ultramarine Blue

Optional Extras

  • Lamp Black
  • Venetian Red
  • Red Umber
  • Cadmium Orange
  • 4 x Bristle Filbert (size 4)
  • 2 x Bristle Filbert (size 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
Copying the 19th-Century Nude Painting Course

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