Sign up for the latest Elephant Academy Workshop and learn all about painting with gouache

Luke Skiffington, Below the Surface, 2017

Painting is often a case of mind over matter, and even more so when mastering expression through the use a single material. Having just one tool at your disposal can breed ingenuity, especially when using a versatile, water-based paint such as gouache.

Gouache shares similar qualities with watercolour, but leaves a more opaque, pronounced finish on paper. It can also be used to convey intricate detail, from the patterns of an outfit to the nuances of a subject’s face in portraiture. Applied carefully, it can give a near-photographic and yet floating effect.

In Elephant Academy’s new workshop Introduction to gouache painting, artist Luke Skiffington will guide you through gouache’s full range of finishes, “from modulating and blending colour, to mark-making and building layers,” he explains.



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“There will be an emphasis on adapting techniques to your own interests and making something that feels personal to you,” Skiffington says. By the end of the two-and-a-half hour workshop, each student will have created a unique work of art, while exploring the full array of gouache’s potential.

Skiffington has worked as a painter for more than 20 years, beginning with oils before experimenting with water-based, acrylic and spray varieties. “My current works combine painted panels assembled to form abbreviated bodies,” he says, “alongside larger-scale works on canvas that recall structures, screens or windows.” The resulting works demonstrate simultaneous delicacy and strength, such as his abstract, metallic portrait and luminous yellow canvas included in AIR Gallery’s recent group exhibition Expanded Painting. 

Luke Skiffington, installation view at The North Wall Arts Centre, Oxford, 2008

“There will be an emphasis on adapting techniques to your own interests and making something that feels personal to you”

What’s his advice for young artists? “It’s a total cliché but it really is a marathon, not a sprint,” he laughs. “For me, making work breeds new work. If you can, develop a thick skin, try not to compare yourself to others, stay engaged, be nice and eat fruit.”

Luke Skiffington and Paul Winstanley, The Unassuming Eye, 2014

Skiffington’s Elephant Academy workshop is friendly and supportive, and suitable for complete beginners as well as experienced artists. Prices for the workshop start at just £20, with the opportunity to add high-quality arts materials from Reeves and Liquitex for an extra fee. The bundle includes paint, brushes and A4 watercolour paper to get you started.

To find out more about this online learning workshop and the many others on offer, take a look at Elephant Academy.


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