Painting is, first and foremost, a translation of Nature. Even when making the most highly realistic of paintings, we must always remember not to attempt to copy what is before us, but to translate it through our medium and through our method; this is the key to attaining a true level of mastery of the art of oil painting, and also to developing one’s own unique style later on. This course will focus on the concept of translating colour through a limited palette, which emphasizes colour-relationships and temperatures over direct colour copying. It will take you through all the steps to create a solid, and well –understood figure painting from the live model.

During this course I will split my time between teaching by demonstration and teaching by critique. In the morning session I will give a thorough demonstration of each step of the method on my own painting from the model. And in the afternoon I will go around giving in-depth critiques to each individual student as they progress. 

We will begin by making a transfer drawing in which we establish the gesture, proportion and structure of the pose in the simpler medium of charcoal on paper. We will then transfer our drawings to our toned canvasses, and re-establish the drawing in terms of line and mass in an umber wash-drawing. The following day we will begin to build up a thicker layer of paint in an extended stage of the under-painting, which focuses on value, form, and temperature rather than colour. In the next layer we will build up thicker impastos as we continue to sculpt the forms, as well as introducing notes of higher chroma and expanding our colour-range. Finally, we will spend our last day rendering and refining the previous layers, bringing each area to a finish by refining the drawing, adding more detail, and finessing transitions and edges. 

Day 1: Transfer Drawing: charcoal on toned paper

Day 2: Wash Drawing: raw umber painted thinly over toned canvas

Day 3: Monochromatic Under-painting: focusing on temperature over colour, using only red umber, black and white

Day 4: Building up the Form and Colour: adding highly chromatic colour-notes in vermillion, terra-verte, and grey

Day 5: Rendering: starting with the focal point, we will focus on finishing each area, refining surface quality and transitions



Drawing Materials

Drawing materials can be purchased on

  • 1 toned sheet of paper (Canson Mei Teintes in either Sky Grey, Steel Grey, or Moonstone)
  • 1 box of Nitram Charcoal (B)
  • 1 sanding block
  • 1 gum eraser
  • 1 white chalk pencil
  • Masking Tape
  • 1 large sheet of tracing paper


Rublev paints can be exclusively purchased on Michael Harding and Old Holland can be purchased on a number of websites such as Jackson’s and CassArt

  • Lead white (Rublev). Titanium is an acceptable alternative, but performs very differently.
  • Vermillion (either Michael Harding’s genuine Vermillion or Old Holland’s Vermillion Extra)
  • Red Umber (Michael Harding)
  • Ivory Black (Old Holland or Michael Harding)
  • Burnt Umber (Old Holland)
  • Raw Umber (Old Holland)



For all the following brushes Cornellissen & Son are by far my favourite. You can purchase their brushes on their website: . Alternatively, Rosemary & Co. brushes are very good too.

  • A range of sizes, from 1-10 in genuine hog-bristle filberts 
  • A couple of small hog-bristle rounds
  • A few small sable filberts (synthetics will do if sable is too expensive for you)
  • 0 or 00 sable round brush


  • Gamsol
  • Cold-pressed linseed oil (Rublev, preferably)
  • Damar Varnish





  • 1 wooden palette (glass is acceptable too, but please no white disposable palette sheets!!!)
  • Paper towels or cotton rags
  • 2 medium cups with lids (or a couple of small glass jars with lids)
  • Brush washer with sealable lid

About Sarah Gibson

Sarah Margaret Gibson (b. 1988) is from Cincinnati, OH. 

Sarah Margaret is a contemporary realist artist, specialising in figurative works, portraits, and still-lifes. Characterised by a rich sense of light and form, Gibson’s work often dramatically juxtaposes light against shadow. Building up her paintings from a series of many fine layers, she seeks to give her works a palpable depth and complexity, so that the viewer can continually find new details and facets to contemplate upon each viewing. She often leaves parts of the under-painting showing through, in order to enhance the feeling of depth and to draw the viewers attention the painting process, rather than seeking to hide it. Through her drawings and paintings, Gibson opens up a dialogue with nature, responding to what she finds beautiful and endeavouring to communicate this with her viewers.

In 2008 Sarah Margaret travelled to Florence, Italy to receive her formal training in drawing and painting from the Angel Academy of Art and The Florence Academy of Art. Over the course of her seven years in Florence, Gibson became profoundly influenced by the work and philosophy of the Old Masters and by the mentorship of great living artists such as Daniel Graves, Jordan Sokol, and Daniela Astone. She taught at the Florence Academy's intermediate studio from 2012-2015.

Sarah Margaret currently lives and works in the seaside town of Largs, on the west coast of Scotland, alongside her husband and fellow artist, Lee Craigmile. She teaches in the core program at the Edinburgh Atelier of Fine Art, and holds private art lessons in her personal studio.

Gibson's work is shown throughout the U.S. and Europe and can be found in the New Britain Museum of American Art and in numerous private collections. 








10.00am - 17:00pm


(flexible start date)


Sarah Margaret Gibson




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