We caught up with Chelsea College of Arts (UAL) Short Course tutor Enver Gürsev about his painting practice, teaching and what advice he’d give to students. Enver teaches, Oil Painting - Level 1, Oil Painting - Level 2 and Chelsea Open Studio.
Enver in his studio
How did you get into painting?
I have been painting and drawing from a very young age, in fact I don’t remember a time that I didn’t. My father is from a very artistic family with many painters, sculptors and musicians in the family and so he was always a huge encouragement for my painting as a youngster. I’ve always had an equal love for painting and sculpture, but I started painting with some instruction, when I was around 14 years old. From then, I always knew my life would be moored firmly within the art world.
What drives your creative practice?
A creative urge to make and produce my artwork is usually driven by a thematic obsession and the need to reinterpret aspects of that obsession into one’s own creative form. By doing so you appear to own, engage and unequivocally live the subject.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
The most recent has been a very large and important commission for BP Shipping, to create 35 original artworks for their ships. For this particular project, I was very happy to be able to involve some of my artist ex-students from UAL. Equally I think having the privilege to be mentored by the late Sir Eduardo Paolozzi before and during my BA study was an unforgettable introduction to the art world.
What do you enjoy most about teaching at UAL?
Having the opportunity to instruct classes in traditional oil painting techniques and seeing the students’ rapid progress constantly reminds me of the very real purpose and benefits these classes have. Observing the sudden breakthroughs in the students’ work is a very satisfying thing to behold. Of course, as both artist and teacher, it is an honour to be part of UAL which is one of the top art institutions in the world.
What courses do you teach and what can students expect to learn from each course?
Oil Painting - Level 1 is a high velocity course designed for the beginner or those who have some knowledge of painting with oil colours, although I do find even for intermediates the course is very beneficial. It touches on all the fundamentals one needs to know to get started on representational painting; from colour theory to the process of painting and reveals the very few crucial rules needed to create successful paintings.
Oil Painting - Level 2 is aimed at Intermediate to Advanced students, wanting to hone in or fine tune their painting knowledge. This course touches more on advanced and alternative techniques in oil painting to push forward ones ideas, by exploring diverse styles and materials used to achieve successful, convincing paintings. The use of limited palette, glazing, grisaille painting, are but a few of the subjects covered.
Chelsea Open Studio is a self-directed, personal project driven class. Students set their own parameters, choose their preferred mediums and work at their own pace with individual guidance and critical advice given throughout the day. The organic structure of the classes mean that demonstrations are given on subjects as they arise, with the students choosing whether or not they sit in on the lectures or just continue with their own work unhindered.
What advice would you give to students building their creative future?
The art world is no different to the rest of the world and accessing it can sometimes seem tough and impenetrable. You need a great deal of resilience and tenacity as an ally, but if you are honest with your work and your work speaks the truth you will make it to the first rung. From there, it’s up to you where you take it.