Author Archives: LondonFineArts


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10 Week Figure – Annam Butt

Every term I set myself a little goal to work towards, edges, flowers, values, whatever it may be. I use that goal as my main focus on all of my studies throughout the term. Of course this term is no exception however I cast my net a little wider and wanted to focus on making my Friday figure class study into more of a story or scene. I’ve always been drawn to The Orientalists style of paintings in terms of their stories, a familiarity with my own culture and religion as well as how decorative some of the elements are even in their architecture.

On Fridays we usually have a 10 week pose which we set, the goal during Ann’s Friday class has always been to focus on composition and the painting as a whole and not just the rendering side of the figure or portrait painting. For this term Ann chose a beautiful Velazquez painting for our model Arnold to emulate for the class.

Although the pose and subject matter is stunning I wanted to go down a more orientalist route with my painting. Pulling references by Rudolf Ernst I have begun to paint in one of his backgrounds behind my figure painting. There are only a handful of places I could really visualise a semi nude figure sitting comfortably in a scene without making it kitsch. So he is now a semi nude carpet salesman! …You may not want to purchase carpets from him in the future but you will believe it is a perfectly plausible scene captured.

I believe ultimately what I have discovered through the development of this painting is more the direction I would like to go in as a painter in the future. Although the background is not finished yet I plan on completing it over half term so for the rest of the 5 week pose I can tweak areas that need to be adjusted to make him look like he is actually a part of that background. The end goal is not to necessarily render everything up to perfection but tell a convincing story as a whole and use this as a reference for other paintings I would like to develop in the future.

Reference: Rudolf Ernst

Development of my own painting of Arnold (Tiger rugs coming soon.)

Felicia Forte

Felicia Forte, Red Light No 1, oil on canvas, 24 x 24” (60.9 x 60.9cm)


Felicia Forte

Felicia attended the Art Students League of New York in 2006, moving next to San Francisco, Ca where she began her career as a private instructor of painting and a fine artist. She has worked full time as an artist since 2010, exhibiting in many shows nationally and internationally including The BP Portrait Award in 2015 and 2018 for which she was awarded second prize. She has been featured in podcasts and publications including The Huffington Post, Dazed Magazine, and three articles in Artists & Illustrators Magazine UK 2020.

Red Light No.2, oil on canvas, 20″x30″

We are delighted to announce that Felicia will be returning to the studios for a workshop in February 2022. Email to find out more

In the meantime, Felicia has been painting and writing for magazines.

See below

Courtesy of Artists & Illustrators Magazine 2020

Courtesy of Artists & Illustrators Magazine 2020

see other visiting artits



Painting and drawing bring us the pleasure of creating and catching the moment. Both artistic endeavours help to ease stress, stimulate creativity and cultivate emotional growth. By all definitions these activities make excellent hobbies.

But have you ever thought about making them a career choice? Apart from the moral
satisfaction artistic pursuits can bring, people can also make significant financial gains. Specialists from Jooble the second biggest job search engine worldwide, have prepared a list of well paid jobs that utilise the skills of painting and


Average salary: £32,000

An animator produces drawings either physically or digitally in a sequential order so that the end result is a moving image. This type of artistry is increasingly digital with contemporary animators using powerful software to generate the required content for a client.

There is a wide variety of sectors that animators can be required for including videos, film, television, video games and even mobile devices. They must often develop storyboards which
maps out projects for the script and narrative context, so creative flair and the ability to sketch outlines by hand is quite essential. Animators today do not have to be exceptional artists in their own right with the advent of graphic software, but they do need to have an educated eye to successfully bring the concept to life.

Graphic Designer

Average salary: £24,000 per year

An overwhelming majority of people perceive information visually and process it quickly. That’s why creating effective channels of communication using catchy images, logos and signs remains an important business task. By producing clear visual concepts, graphic designers promote the value of particular products, ideas or projects. Websites, presentations, brochures or videos — all of these things have to be visually attractive and self-explanatory. Graphic design has many fast developing branches and offers a variety of career paths which why it remains popular and well paid.


Average salary: £29,000 per year

An illustrator is an artist who creates original artwork for commercial purposes such as books, logos, product packaging and also online content. They can work with various mediums that artists traditionally use but can also use digital or graphic illustration to produce their output. In many ways this career is closely related to graphic design as modern illustrators often produce physical and then electronic renderings of their work so a working knowledge of graphic design is a benefit here. Illustrators often specialise in certain fields such as lifelike medical illustrations, or more cartoon type styles for children literature. Building a portfolio of niche content can give you an audience for your chosen style and preference for illustration.

Tattoo Artist

Average salary: £41,000 per year

The art of painting on the human body decoratively may be controversial but is still very impressive. Similar to other artists, specialists in this area have to be creative, attentive to details and highly skilled. The big difference between tattoo artists and other colleagues in the field is that they use indelible inks instead of regular tints. They must also abide by strict health regulations aimed at ensuring client safety as a top priority.

Another important task tattoo artists must contend with is consulting with clients who want permanent body art prior to its creation. Profound expertise on the size, colours and placement of the design is essential since the result is not easily modified. Tattoo artists may also do a few less creative jobs such as scheduling appointments and negotiating prices.

Video Editor

Average salary: £28,000 per year

Even a short funny movie clip you send to your friends can be the result of arduous effort, all done by video editors. To produce consistent video footage specialists have to bring together thousands of small pieces, then make them look integrated and exciting. This work requires creating nice pictures accompanied by suitable sounds and graphic effects. A video editing specialist needs to have a clear vision of the final picture, so an ability to sketch some elements quickly and properly would assist in this type of career path.

Landscape Architect

Average salary: £36,000 per year

Have you ever walked down the street and caught yourself thinking that the surrounding area looks inviting and aesthetically pleasing? If people feel safe, easily interact and can subconsciously navigate in public spaces, landscape architects have done a great job. They are the very people who design, plan and supervise the visage of big urban and rural areas. Such specialists focus primarily on outdoor spaces and create the peaceful coexistence of habitats for both nature and humans. Landscape designers work differently and are mainly focused on residential projects. It goes without saying that architecture involves a good command of specialised software. An ability to picture the future landscape where human activity meets nature remains the core skill for both job types.

Note: This position requires a relevant degree accredited by the Landscape Institute.

Art restoration specialist

Average salary: £68,000 per year

Restoring pieces of art is an honourable and respected job. Public attention to the past is constantly growing. Preservation of heritage has become an indispensable element of culture, politics, economy and even fashion. Therefore, the demand for such specialists is consistently

Art restorers don’t have to be as great at painting as the artists, whose masterpieces they save. However, such specialists need to understand all subtleties of ancient technologies and take
the best measures to repair damages with minimal intrusion. There is almost no room for error, so even small technical steps require thorough examination of each piece, preparation and research. However, this responsibility pays off. The niche is traditionally quite small and if you build a good reputation for yourself, clients would be generous with remuneration.

Note: To work in this field, one should have a degree in Art Conservation or a closely related

An analysis conducted by Jooble seeds the idea that although a good command of various software has become an absolute must-have for many artistic jobs, painting and drawing skills remain core requirements that successful specialists should have.

A proverb says, ‘To be happy people should turn their job into art’. As we see it, art itself could be an exciting and lucrative career choice.

WAC Awards 2021

Where Are You Really From – Habib Hajallie

Wells Art Contemporary 2021’s call for entries is now open!!!

Artists working in any medium are invited to apply for inclusion in this year’s exhibition.

Entry closes on the 25th May 2021 so make sure you get your application in before the deadline! Selected works will be shown in the iconic Wells Cathedral as well as featuring in a dedicated virtual gallery.

The Clouds - Andrew Litten

Dining table with mirror - Richard Baker

Monewment - Camilla Laing-Tate

Visit WAC

Find out more

David Shevlino

David recently wrote an article on painting in abstract and expressive ways. Within it, he gives instructions on how to prepare your palette and canvas, and command your marks and colours to paint in a more expressive manner. He even gives his own top tips on paint mixing and colour selection.

David will be returning to the studio from November 29th to December 4th. On December 2nd, we will be hosting a painting demo and Q&A session for David. Email Emma to reserve a place.

Competition no 3.

london fine art studios



We’ve loved seeing how creative our students have been during lockdown! For our third challenge, our students were asked to paint a portrait using Zorn’s palette. Thank you to everyone for your wonderful portraits. As always we had lots of great submissions.

Thank you to everyone who submitted their portraits.

Oil painting London
London Atelier
london fine art studios
oil painting of woman
Battersea evening art courses
Detailed oil painting
Traditional portrait courses
Battersea full time art courses
South London art courses
London Portrait classes

We were really impressed with Chris and Oliver’s self-portraits, for the paint quality, the likeness, and the courage to sit in front of a mirror. 

london fine art studios

By Chris

oil portrait, london fine art studios

By Oliver


Toby is our winner this week

He closely followed the brief and produced a wonderfully sensitive portrait of his friend David.

Many congratulations Toby! 


london fine art studios

By Toby

See all competition winners

Painting Eggs – using the Zorn Palette

Anders Zorn Palette


Students often ask how they can practice their portrait skills when away at home and if they should work from photographs. I firmly believe, that although photography has its place, the best use of your time, if a model is unavailable to you, is to paint eggs from life. We may want to go into the details of the eyes, but we should wait until the planes of the head are understood and the modelling of the large form is captured. This is why painting eggs is such an amazing resource.

I was asked by Artists & Illustrator to write a series of articles on practices for painting using the Zorn palette.  

In the 4 articles, we looked at the Zorn palette: seeing how we can use it in our paintings and how it can benefit our working practice.


Here is the transcript from my first article, though of course, the formatting by Artists & Illustrator was much more attractive than my attempts at WordPress.


We looked at the Zorn palette in detail: colour, colour relationships through a colour chart and its advantages with portraiture.


What is the Zorn Palette?

The Zorn palette is also known as the limited palette. The colours are limited to 4 basic colours: Black, White, Red, and Yellow.

I consider these the primary colours with the addition of white (where Black is the substitute of Blue). Some also regard the Zorn palette as two colours: yellow & red, where black and white serve to control the chroma and the value. Either way, the colours are definitely limited.


Why is it called the Zorn palette?

The limited palette has been ascribed to Anders Zorn (1860-1920), a Swedish painter, who predominantly used a limited palette. He was not the first to use it, and nor did he use it exclusively, however, he is an artist who greatly excelled at it.

Many artists throughout the history of art used a limited palette, including Titian, Rembrandt and Velazquez, though most artists would use other colours when needed and vary their pigments. During the 19th century, many more pigments and colours became available to artists, so the use of a limited a palette became less prevalent. Yet many artists remained loyal to their limited palette and continue to do so today.


There is much debate about whether Zorn truly did use such a limited palette. In Zorn’s self-portrait, he holds a palette with the four colours, laid out from dark to light, proud of his bravura. I think he is showing us how his skill as a painter is in the fact he can create such ambience through his brush handling, despite his limited colours. But of course, there are times when he did use other colours.

1.Image of Zorn and Self-portrait


The Zorn palette is really used more in portraiture and figure painting, not in landscape painting (apparently we see more variety of greens than any other colours). Zorn would also use blues and greens and other colours when landscape painting and when painting with watercolours.

There is also evidence from his studio of a very varied selection of paints, but my studio also includes many colours that I would not usually use: as a painter I am often gifted tubes of paint and I like to experiment with different colours. After all no artist should be completely formulaic, as where would the space be left for creativity?


Teaching colour

There are many schools of thought when it comes to teaching colour and colour theory for painters.

An abundance of Colour

There are those who believe that all that we see is colour and therefor we should have access to the most amounts of tubes of colours as possible. This is not what I subscribe to. I think this presumes that as students we understand colour completely. I think we understand hue, but colour, with all its varying temperatures and values, is a much more complex and subjective topic.

Furthermore we can rarely get exactly the right colour from a tube. Painting colour involves relationships, and mixing colour. The colour we see is only in relationship to its neighbour. If we have an abundance of colours to mix from then we have thousands of options and combinations of colours available to us. How could we keep track of which colour combinations give us which colours?


A Limitation of Colours

By limiting the colours available to us we have to be much more disciplined and scientific about colour combinations and colour mixing and relationships. Of course as we learn we can add more colours to our palette. There is an expression we use when teaching that “values do all the work but colour gets all the credit”. How true this is. People often look at my paintings and say, “oh I love your colours’ and yet the colour is nothing without the design of shapes and values.


John Singer Sargent said that there is no point putting a brush stroke down unless it is the correct brush stroke in terms of colour, shape, value, and direction. This is very true, but we believe that learning every step all at once is much harder than breaking down the learning practice: from drawing shapes to proportions, values and then colour. A well-proportioned monochrome image is still representational even if devoid of colour. So it is best to introduce colour gradually.


The irony is that limiting our colours is in actual fact so liberating and can teach us so much. And we will see in article 2 just how many colours can be created despite the limitation of only having four pigments.



Painting an Egg

For the first exercise I have chosen to paint an egg. An egg is a fantastic teaching tool. Before we hire a model, an egg is a much cheaper and reliable alternative! The colour of an egg is so flesh like, and the shape of an egg is so similar to a portrait. It really is an amazing tool.


The palette set-up

I would suggest you do not work from a white palette. It is very hard to gauge the values and colours; everything we mix seems deeper against the white. In the same way that we should tone the canvas or panel, we should also work from a mid-tone palette: a wooden palette, a grey tear-off palette, or a piece of glass with grey paper laid underneath.  Some people like to put theirs on a table so a glass palette is good and it is much easier to keep clean. I am using my wooden palette, as I really like to hold my palette and I tend to walk back and forth from my easel and I can easily tilt it if there is glare.

Lay the colours out far apart from light to dark just as in Zorn’s self-portrait. Black, Red, Yellow and White, more specifically I use ivory black, cadmium red, yellow ochre and titanium white. I will go into more details of colours in the second article. I am always reminding students that the palette is limited in size, so we don’t want any of the palette to go on holiday, we need to access all of it.  I would suggest laying your colours far apart from each other and near the edge to give you the greatest area to mix in.

2. Image of the Palette and colours

Toning the canvas

With the Zorn palette you have black and white, which gives you values, light and dark. As a canvas panel is white we can tone it with a little black so it appears a mid-tone grey. It is always best to start from a mid-tone. Traditionally we often add a little red to the black. This is for two reasons, a) black is a very weak pigment and the red can add strength to it so that cracking is less likely and b) adding a little warmth to the original tone can really help when painting flesh tones.

3  Image Toned canvas

The Light set-up

When using a limited palette we are most likely prioritising light effect, drawing and values are going to be the anchor as opposed to colour. Therefore make sure you have a strong light set-up. Can you place your subject near a window (preferable north lit so that the light stays constant), or use a desk lamp to beam a strong light onto the subject. In this was you would have a clear and defined value pattern of light and dark. Don’t put your subject against the light or your back to the light. Ideally you want light on your canvas and a nice balance of light and dark on the subject.

4 Image of set up

Placement of shapes

After toning the canvas, start by mapping out the shapes with exactly the same mix you used for the wash, just a little darker. Black and red are also both transparent colours. Don’t use ochre or white at this stage. They are opaque colours and will make your painting milky. As a little analogy, if we have a cup of tea and want to make the tea darker we can always add another teabag. If the tea gets too dark we can add more water. But when we add the milk we have lost the transparency, which adds such a wonderful quality to a painting. When painting we want to try to achieve a variety of transparent and opaque paint.


Map out your shapes and then add your shadow lines. This is the edge or the transition between the light and the dark. Try to keep your painting very simple and just look for 2 values at first, a light and a dark mass. Be careful with the red, it is a very strong pigment so we don’t want it to overtake the drawing; it is just being used to slightly strengthen the black. We now have the shapes and value pattern established with just two pigments.

2 Images of egg on mid-tone background, lines with shadow lines, 2 mass

For the lights mix the other two colours, the ochre and the white. The light appears a little too yellow. Add a little red to warm it up. Does it appear a little too chromatic (saturated in colour)? A little touch of black will soften the colour.

6aSimple egg drawing with lights added

6b dipping into ochre

Modelling the paint.

It is very hard, but try not to soften the transition between the values. In painting we always say you should paint the transition. It is very tempting and seems like a quicker solution to take our brush and soften the paint between the transitions, but this can make your painting look muddy. If you work with a loaded brush (lots of paint on the brush) and paint the correct transition (shift in value), then the brushstroke will do all the work of the modelling. The painting will also look crisper and cleaner. I then added the simple light background which really helped the egg jump out

7 More transitions in the lights

The Background

In the first painting I used a white background, which helps bring out the warms of the egg. In this second exercise I placed the eggs on piece of wood and in front of a hessian background. The composition is more interesting because you have a relationship between the two objects.  The background was more fun to paly with as its colours and values depended on the colour and values of the egg; the value pattern and the colours belongs as much to the subject as to the background. I had to look more at relationships of colour than just the local colour.

8a Stages

8b 2 Eggs




My students always ask me how they can practice at home and can they paint a portrait from photographs. I think you will learn so much more by painting an egg with a strong light source than copying a photograph. In a photograph, the work of translating the 3d onto a 2d picture plane has already been done for you. By painting an egg, you are learning about how the shadows on a portrait work and how the mass relates to the background. Ideally set your egg against a mid-tone background so that the play of light and dark of the background relates to the light and dark on the egg. You can change the colour and value of the background and the position of the egg to create hours of practice and experimentation.


In this figure painting, the flesh is so beautiful, but each area is really just like another painting of a beautifully painted egg. The value shifts are so clear but not hard. There are no unnecessary brushstrokes and the design of the background in itself is quite abstract but beautifully balanced both with values and such limited accents of colour.

9 Figures


I will post my article on looking at the large range of colours we can create using the Zorn palette. We will be making a colour chart and discussing the break down of colour to values, temperature and chroma.








Lockdown 3. Competition 2.

london fine art studios

For our second lockdown challenge, we asked our students to create a colour chart using the Zorn palette (yellow ochre, ivory black, vermilion/cadmium red light and titanium white) as well as a mini painting using the Zorn palette. Creating a colour chart is so helpful and amazing to see just how many colours can be created from the four colours on the limited palette. 

We had some great submissions and we hope that everyone found it a very helpful little exercise! …

flower painting

By Elisabeth

Bouquet painting

By Donna

By Cecilia

Horse painting with oil

By Graeme

Elephant painting

By Julie

Still life art courses

By Howard

Still life courses London

By Cristina

Chris is this weeks winner

After another tough decision, we decided that Chris’s mushrooms had won the prize! He closely followed the brief and had shown a good understanding of the hues, values, and chroma which can be achieved with a limited palette.

Many congratulations Chris! 

london fine art studios

By Chris

See all competition winners

Lockdown 3. Competition 1.

london fine art studios - still life

For their first challenge, we asked our students to draw or paint a still life where it is not the subject matter that inspires them, but the paint handling, the experimental use of colour and the variety of edges. We had some great submissions…

Liz is our winner this week

london fine art studios - still life

By Liz

See all competition winners