Painting at DVSA
About our programs
Painting at DVSA
Painting classes are our most popular courses at DVSA. Whether you wish to accurately render a subject in paint or work intuitively to create something more emotive, the art of painting offers a sense of play, a flexibility of thinking and the opportunity to visually express thoughts, ideas and emotions as you work 2-dimensionally with colours, shapes and textures.
At Dundas Valley School of Art, we offer some of the most complete art studios in the Hamilton/Burlington region with a range of painting classes taught by the area’s finest artists.
Choosing Your Medium
While not required, we encourage students interested in painting to begin their artistic journey with a drawing class. Here, concepts are taught that will kickstart the development of your painting skills, including the 7 ways of seeing, the behaviour of light, perspective and composition concepts and more.
Beginner painting classes are offered in the mediums of watercolour, acrylic or oil. The best medium for you depends on the effects you want to achieve. Acrylic is quick-drying paint with excellent coverage allowing for vibrant textural works. Oil-based paints feel buttery and smooth, producing excellent tones and colours for subtle shifts and fine details. Oils dry slowly, allowing more time to blend colours or make changes. Watercolours are transparent and easy to blend with water, creating a unique and delicate style. For a better understanding of these mediums and what might be right for you, look here.
Beginner painting classes start with the fundamentals. For watercolour, you’ll look at the types of papers to use, the different brushes and marks they make, brush handling techniques and a basic palette of warm and cool colours. You’ll practice mixing colours, do some graded washes (blending one colour with another) and explore techniques such as wet-on-dry, wet-on-wet, dry brush and more.
For acrylic and oil classes, it’s a review of working on canvas or board, the various types of brushes, brush handling techniques and a full understanding of the acrylic and oil mediums. You’ll practice mixing colours and explore colour palette options.
In both classes, you’ll then move forward with a fuller exploration of colour theory (how to mix colours and get the best results), working with complementary colours, the importance of value, composition and perspective, and the principles of design. Throughout, you’ll review works by the great painters in history and engage in discussions on art history.
The Class Experience
Initially, you can expect to paint simple landscape or still life subjects chosen by the instructor that best illustrate the concepts being taught. Later in the course, there is often the opportunity to paint a subject of your choice – either from direct observation or a chosen photograph. Demonstrations by the instructor will shape the lessons along with significant group and individual instruction throughout. A collective exchange of ideas and knowledge is encouraged, shaping a collaborative studio experience with people from a range of backgrounds. Group critiques are an essential element, always with a focus on constructive feedback – what is successful in your work and what would you do differently? These valuable feedback sessions teach you how to fix problems and see the areas in your paintings that need improvement. Our instructors, all of whom are also working artists, offer continual encouragement and creative guidance.
Next level classes offer more experimentation in your chosen medium, with advanced brush techniques and in-depth use of value harmony, using shadow to create depth, more challenging compositions and incorporating textural techniques. You’ll also have more freedom to choose and develop your own painting subjects, complemented by tutorials and lessons from the instructor.
As you continue to move forward on your painting journey, there are opportunities to explore different subjects (landscape, architecture, still life, portrait, abstract) and different mediums such as collage, pastel or a mix of media. There are often additional classes or workshops focused on a specific medium such as encaustics, inks and cold wax. Or options to go more in-depth with techniques such as palette knife or impasto painting.
For landscape enthusiasts, en plein air classes (outdoors) allow you to work on site for accurate observation of value and colour and the additional sensory perceptions that can add a richness to your work.
Intermediate and advanced painters may consider our Independent Painting course, where students pursue their own choice of subject and medium with guidance from the instructor and feedback from other participants.
The overarching goal is to guide you towards becoming just that –an independent painter – discovering your own voice and cultivating your own style as you gain confidence and grow as an artist.
For those who may still feel intimidated, we offer our Painting For The Petrified as an option for Hamilton painting classes. Shorter in duration, this course provides a broad overview of the basic painting concepts covered in our full beginner classes. It is intended as a precursor to our Beginners’ Painting classes and designed for absolute beginner artists who wish to explore if painting is their medium, but don’t quite feel ready for a full-term painting class.