From the sun dappling the surface of the water in Claude Monet’s Water Lillies to the ‘chiaroscuro’ technique employed by Renaissance artists such as Caravaggio, artists have used paint to represent the transformative effects of light and luminosity for centuries. A new Elephant Academy online art course, led by artist Maddie Yuille, aims to teach a new generation how to harness the power of light through paint on canvas.
Creating Light with Acrylic Paint, which runs for four weeks from 18 April to 9 May, will offer an introduction to the history of light (and shade) in painting, as well as offering hands-on guidance for those new to working with acrylic paint. “We’ll be looking in to how to paint light with acrylics, through colour theory and the use of white paint and mediums, and looking at artists both contemporary and historical as inspiration,” Yuille explains.
Yuille herself works with a mixture of different mediums, from acrylic to ink and oil paint, to create scenes that are steeped in vivid colour and light. “I have always had a fascination with painting the effects of light which has fed through all of my work, even when the subject matter has varied,” she says. “I’ll be drawing upon a particular body of my work for the course based upon paintings of still interiors in which light plays an important role.”
“I have always had a fascination with painting the effects of light which has fed through all of my work”
Yuille is particularly looking forward to sharing a technique for painting light which she often uses in her own work, based on mixing fluid acrylics with glazing medium. Students will learn how to use liquid acrylics, modelling paste and gel mediums, creating impressions of light on canvas through both the addition and subtraction of paint.
Artists including Vermeer, Rothko, Hockney, Turner, Whistler and Bonnard will serve as touchstones for their distinctive use of light. Students will also be encouraged to develop their own original painting, working from a found photo or mirror to build up a contemporary scene, with detailed feedback from Yuille.
For those curious about a future career as an artist, Yuille has some words of advice: “It’s not easy pursuing a career as an artist so you’ve got to have a real passion and unending curiosity for it.” The top skills that make an artist? “Tenacity, curiosity, and not being afraid to make mistakes.”
“Students will learn how to create impressions of light on canvas through both the addition and subtraction of paint”
In that spirit, Yuille’s Elephant Academy course embraces experimentation, offering a welcoming, friendly atmosphere for everyone from beginners to those with more experience looking to expand their skillset. Remember, mistakes are all part of the creative process.
To find out more about this online learning course here as well as the many others on offer at Elephant Academy.
All images © Maddie Yuille