Painting the figure in movement with oils with Rachel Mercer

Ref: SLW31870

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About this course

Working in oils, you will make three paintings working directly from a model, consider how to capture energy and movement in brushstrokes.

Course Description

Working in oils you will consider how to capture energy and movement in brushstrokes.

This course will examine and draw inspiration from 20th century artists that depict movement: Toulouse Lautrec, Edgar Degas, Chaïm Soutine, as well as more contemporary painters, including Leon Kossoff and R B Kitaj. Through demonstrations and guidance, you will learn techniques that will improve fluency and accuracy in your painting. Consideration of mark-making and gesture will help you to capture the model while they are moving.

On day one, the movements will be restricted to small repeated movements of one limb. You will be using one colour to practise layering and drawing with the brush.

On day two, you will be using a limited palette, selecting colours for the painting and learning to make colour substitutions. You will consider how the layering of colours may also imply movement in your images.

By the final day, you will have already begun your third painting, using an extended cadmium palette to hopefully create an image that marries rhythm and gesture with a palette that responds to colours observed.

By the end of the course, you will feel able to consider movement of the whole body and feel more confident using colour to produce fresh and vibrant paintings that express the moving figure.


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 some materials, including some A3 oil painting paper, A3 canvas boards, studio safe solvent and linseed oil.
  • The cost of the model who will sit for the course is also provided.

What students need to bring

  • A4 or A5 sketchpad
  • 2B pencil and rubber
  • Apron
  • Oil paints: Cadmium Red, Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Yellow Deep, Lemon Yellow, Ultramarine Blue, Prussian blue, Yellow Ochre, Viridian and Titanium White
  • Palette knife
  • Palette (tear off palettes are fine)
  • 2 jam jars
  • Rags for cleaning brushes
  • 5-7 hog hair brushes (long handled), varied sizes (no smaller than size 8)

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • A good selection of art materials such as oil paint in a variety of colours including Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow, Lemon Yellow, Ultramarine Blue, Alizarin Red, Titanium White, Cobalt Blue, Yellow Ochre, Viridian, Lamp Black, hog hair brushes size 8 and upwards, palettes, palette knives, odourless solvent, linseed oil, A3 canvas boards, A3 oil painting paper

Additional information

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


Rachel Mercer

Born in Cambridgeshire, Mercer studied at Cardiff School of Art and Design graduating in 2012 before being awarded the postgraduate programme at The Royal Drawing School. Since 2014 she has been a painter and educator working in London. She has exhibited in the UK, Athens and China and had work purchased for the Royal Collection by HM Charles III. 


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.