Introduction to painting with water-mixable oils with Steve Nayar

Ref: SLW31660

Location: West Dean
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About this course

Learn how to paint in wonderful water-mixable oil paints. You will be shown how water-mixable oils still demand a 'fat over lean' approach, whilst eliminating harmful solvents from your practice.

Course Description

This course will help you understand the benefits of water-mixable oils and give you confidence in their usage. Your tutor will guide you through the various stages of oil painting, from underpainting through to the final layers, using the ‘fat over lean’ approach. You will be taught about the importance of light and shade, how to match tonal values and colour mixing skills.

The course will start with a presentation from your tutor and a review of materials and equipment. As the course progresses, you will be given tutor demonstrations of the various stages and painting techniques, alongside one-to-one support throughout.

The course will help you to learn about colour/value mixing, using a fairly limited palette, and the various stages to completion. You will be shown the advantages of using water-mixable oils over other water soluble paints such as acrylics, and the differences between water-mixable and traditional oils. You will only have a few days to work in class, so try not to run before you can walk. You might not produce a finished canvas, but, instead, you might make a suitable start for later development at your own pace. The aim is to help you overcome any trepidation of the medium and to achieve a result to help garner self-confidence.

This course is suitable for all levels of painting ability from beginners through to professional artists, and is open to all genres from abstract to photorealism.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


  • On this course, the College will supply all of the materials, including a canvas, paints, brushes, medium and palette.

What students need to bring

  • If you wish to paint from a photograph, select licence-free, reference material from sites such as,, (to name but a few). Look for a well-lit, clear, high-resolution image that can lend itself to a square format. You may save this on an ipad or laptop, but if you don’t have one, try and bring along a decent hard copy.
  • You may prefer to work from a pre-prepared sketch or idea. Bring your own reference, if required.
  • If needed, bring any other mark-making implements, as only brushes are provided.
  • An apron or overalls to protect your clothes

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • More brushes as needed
  • A basic water-based oil paint set

Additional information

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no sandals or open toes).


Steve Nayar

Steve is an acclaimed wildlife artist with a background in design and advertising. He has facilitated workshops here and in Mauritius and cares about endangered species. A Wildlife Artist of The Year finalist for the past five years, his paintings have raised funds for numerous global wildlife conservation organisations.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

Courses of interest

Further study options

Take the next step in your creative practice, with foundation level to Masters in Fine Art study. 

Depending on your experience, start with an Online Foundation Certificate in Art and Design (one year, part-time), a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design made up of 10 short courses taken over two years (part-time) or advance your learning with our BA (Hons) Art and Contemporary Craft: Materials, Making, and Place (six years part-time). All will help you develop core skills, find direction in your practice and build an impressive portfolio in preparation for artist opportunities or higher-level study. See all degree and diploma courses.