Washdrawing Workshop

2 Day Workshop – Price £120

Dates to be announced.

painting workshop

This  painting workshop is to be run in conjunction with the “Bistre Underpainting Technique” portrait article featured in the July edition of Artists & Illustrators magazine. 

July 2014 Artist and Illustrators LargeIf you’re thinking of experimenting with oil paint then consider painting workshop. It is similar to working with pencil using the white of the canvas for the lights and adding paint for the darks. The beauty of this technique is its simplicity! There is no need to mix colour and the paint can be applied directly to the canvas just like a pencil.

The technique is traditionally used for an underpainting and has become appreciated as a style in its own right; in its simplest terms an underpainting is a monochrome version of the final painting. The intention is to fix the composition and the tonal range before adding colour.

There are a number of ways of creating an underpainting and the three most popular are known as Verdaccio, Grisaille, and Bistre.

For this workshop I am going to use the Bistre method.  Bistre is known as the “wipe-out method”.  A brown glaze is painted over a white canvas or board and then ‘wiped out’ to create the highlights. The shadows are built up using opaque paint and the half-tones are applied with a little colour on the brush allowing the warmth of the brown to show through the translucent glaze. It is the most appealing of the three techniques because of its simplicity, looseness and warmth. The effect of translucent brown glaze on a white background gives a warm glowing feel as opposed to the cooler Grisaille that mixes black and white whch produces a dead looking painting.

painting workshop

Teaching Style

Beginners and experienced people are welcome. Understanding is key and nobody gets left behind. Each student will be helped until they grasp the principles of the lesson. Louis believes in leading from the front, demonstrating each step in front of the group and on students’ work if needed. Louis Smith studied Classical Art in Florence and has exhibited his work in the BP Portrait Award and Royal Society of Portrait Painters.

Workshop Outline

If you are new to using oils then this is a good opportunity to learn how to control oil paint.  This method is the traditional transition from charcoal to oil paints taught in Classical Realist  Academies. First the student learns how to use the one pigment then progresses to using black and white,  a limited palette and then a full palette. You will be shown how to use;

  • Medium and Paint  Consistency of medium to paint for the dark and subtle light areas. 
  • The Right Canvas  How to prepare a canvas to make sure the glaze skates across the surface
  • Brushes  Shorter stiffer brushes in the shadows and softer brushes in the lights so they don’t lift the paint off the surface.
  •  Wiping the Paint  Various methods of erasing paint, paper towel, brushes, cotton buds and a pencil eraser for the highlights.



The studio is equipped with easels and Work Stations  to make it more convenient for the students to organise their materials and focus on their work.  The studio is also lit with balanced lighting which can save a lot of problems when dealing with a colour palette.

art course manchester
Image shows the workstation, the Alla Prima painting is for display purpose.

Materials Deal = £20

Organisation is a challenge faced by most beginners.  The studio is equiped with work stations so that everything is at hand.  The students will be using the same paints and canvas that the teacher uses for demonstration, eliminating a number of problems that students have when they bring their own paints and canvas. Each workstation includes;

  • Palette and palette knife
  • Medium holder
  • Medium and thinners
  • Prepared canvas
  • Paper towel,  cotton wool buds and kneadable eraser
  • Paint – Burnt Sienna

(Offer does not include brushes – Information on dedicated suppliers shall be provided)

Workshop = £120


2 Day Wash Drawing Workshop = £120. To register for the course, fill in your details and pay a 20% deposit below. Then pay the balance on the day.  An email will be sent to confirm your attendance the week before the start date.


Saturday and Sunday, 9.30-1700.


Prices for Hotels in Manchester centre vary depending on the football. I would recommend staying in Altrincham its about 20 mins from Cornbrook Tram Station which is around the corner from the studio. If your on foot the Premier Inn is a short walk from Altrincham Station if your driving there are other hotels that are cheaper. Altrincham is a nice part of Manchester and if you fancy somewhere nice posh for a couple of drinks then Hale is just around the corner. Below is a link for hotels in Altrinham just enter the dates at the top of the page for prices. Click here for hotels on TripAdvisor website>>>

Venue Address

Louis Smith Art Phoenix House Ellesmere Street Manchester M15 4JY


Set navigation for Cawdor Street.  Ellesmere Street is blocked in the middle for the next year. If you are traveling by car enter Ellesmere Street by turning left after the Church on the roundabout over the Mancunian Way. Free Car Park at the rear of the building on Cawdor Street. Public Transport, trams, buses timetables and parking, click here>>


Louis Smith Tel: 07980989666 Email: louissmithart@gmail.com facebook.com/louissmithpainting

5 thoughts on “Washdrawing Workshop”

  1. This was my 2nd workshop with Louis which I thoroughly enjoyed. Following the Alla Prima earlier in the year this alternative approach was equally demanding yet rewarding. As far as I could see everyone on the course produced a very workmanlike piece they were proud to take home- Nick

  2. Last weekend was another great experience. This is the fifth course I’ve had with Louis and each time I’ve come away with something to be proud of. I didn’t know I had it in me, but Louis manages to bring it out, ridding me (well almost!) of my old bad habits and showing us how to do it properly. Great friendly atmosphere, tea and biscuits galore, and the studio is littered with inspiring art. Thoroughly recommended!

  3. I really enjoyed the wash drawing workshop, my second workshop with Louis. It was hard work but fun. It was great to be working alongside others with similar aspirations. Louis’ teaching is excellent. He teaches fundamental principles, so we had a clear understanding of what we were aiming for. He helps everyone, whatever level they’re at. I came away with an understanding of what and how I need to practise. Very inspiring. Thanks Louis.

  4. Last weekend’s wash drawing workshop was my third weekend under Louis’ tutelage at his studio in Manchester.
    Each time I have learned so much and come away with a portrait I’d only have been able to dream about before.
    Louis shares his expertise and tips so generously and provides lots of munchies to keep energy levels high. The workshops aren’t for the faint-hearted, standing at an easel and concentrating for two full-on days. But my art understanding and ability has grown immeasurably and I wouldn’t have missed them for the world.
    He’s a fantastic artist and it’s a privilege to benefit from his talent and indirectly from the years of training he’s undertaken.
    Thanks Louis, Ali H

  5. Great workshop for beginners and more experienced artists. Louis has a friendly and supportive teaching manner. His wealth of experience can inspire all participants in the pursuit of classical realism. A course without practice is not particularly useful. This course is all about practice. Practice makes you better!

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