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Contemporary Oil Painting

Contemporary Oil Painting

Central Saint Martins
Taught by
Bettina Reiber


Explore how you can produce oil paintings that are both creative and technically sound by drawing inspiration from different visual sources. You will use photographs, magazine imagery, objects and memories as a starting point, and combine them through drawing, photocopying and collage. Plus, you will get a practical introduction to the technical aspects of oil painting. 

Group discussions and personal advice will help you achieve an imaginative and arresting painting by the end of the course. 

Topics covered

We will stretch and prepare canvas, explore basic colour mixing and ways in which oil paint can be applied.

You will combine your sources through layers of images or build up different textures in different parts of the painting.

In your final painting you will be encouraged to explore the transparent, translucent and opaque qualities of oil painting.

Please bring in any sketches or photographs that you would like to add to the visual sources provided by the tutor.

Entry requirements

You do not need to have used oil paint before, but some previous experience in drawing will be helpful.

Level: All levels

Please note: This course is for students aged 18 and older

Tutor Description

Bettina Reiber is a practising artist. Her paintings have been selected for the John Ruskin Prize Exhibition 2012 and for the Threadneedle Prize Exhibition 2012. At times she works on collaborative projects with artists, dancers and writers. She curates art events and publishes papers on aesthetics and art theory. Bettina holds a BA Fine Art (Painting) from Central St. Martins College and an MA in Aesthetics and Art Theory. Her website is:


Please bring with you to the first session:

  • Sketchbooks or sheets of paper
  • Pencils
  • Rubbers
  • Pencil sharpeners
  • Piece(s) of hardboard, MDF or canvas board the size(s) you want to work with
  • Optional: Stretchers and canvas (cotton duck) that we will stretch and prepare in class
  • A palette
  • Two old jam jars
  • Brushes
  • Kitchen towel or old rags to clean your brushes and palette
  • Palette knife to mix the paint and/or to apply paint

A range of colours (oil paint), for instance:

  • Titanium white
  • Cadmium red
  • Alizarin crimson
  • Ultramarine blue
  • Cobalt blue
  • Cadmium yellow
  • Lemon yellow.

For Health and Safety reasons students are not allowed to bring any solvents to the studio. We will provide low-odour mineral spirits.

Any kind of spray products, turpentine or white spirits are banned from the building and the internal courtyard.

Additional helpful colours are:

  • Viridian green
  • Cerulean blue
  • Yellow ochre
  • Burnt sienna
  • Raw sienna
  • Raw umber
  • Burnt umber.

Source Materials:

  • Sketches
  • Photographs, magazine cuttings and any other material that you might want to work from.

These are just recommendations, so if you have done oil painting before bring in whatever you want to use.

Available dates