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Unlocking Colour: The Tri-Colour Oil Palette

Andries Gouws
  • Term: Summer School Week One 2018
  • Start Date: 8 Jan 2018
  • End Date: 12 Jan 2018
  • Time: Mon-Fri, 9:30AM - 4:30PM
  • Number of Classes: 5
  • Teacher: Andries Gouws
  • Level: All Levels
  • Age: All Ages
  • Location: The National Art School
  • Availability: Unavailable

Learn how to avoid common pitfalls in colour-mixing, whether you are a novice or a professional painter. Andries Gouws teaches you how to use the three primaries to match swatches, then introduces a more restricted colour palette such as ochre-magenta-viridian or ochre-indian red-indigo. With this method you will discover surprising things about colour and get better at perceiving and mixing colours. Andries explains the essential notions of saturation, tonality and complementary colours; the distinction between primary and secondary and tertiary colours ; and how your colours can come to seem muddy, chalky or garish. The experience of working with three colours will forever enhance your understanding and mastery of colour, even if you return to a more extensive palette afterwards. You will paint from still life set-ups in the studio with a range of collected objects, including your own. The course includes a guided tour with Andries of the Art Gallery of NSW exhibition Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age, where you will investigate how painters of this era used colour and then, back in the studio, compare their use of colour to that of artists such as Cézanne, Arikha, Matisse and Bonnard.

Andries Gouws

Andries Gouws studied art in Cape Town (Michaelis School of Fine Art ), Düsseldorf (Staatliche Kunstakademie) and Amsterdam (Rijksakademie ), and also holds a Master of Arts and a PhD in philosophy. A professional artist and art teacher, he spent 16 years in Europe before returning to his native South Africa. Prior to becoming a full-time artist, he taught philosophy, art theory and history of art at levels ranging from undergraduate to doctoral degrees. The subjects of his paintings are interiors, still life and, occasionally, feet; he often uses only three colours. To view Andries’ artworks visit his website at

Oil paints

Code for brands: Winsor & Newton Artists - WN; Winton – WT; Williamsburg – WB; Schmincke Norma – SN; Old Holland – OH.

  • Titanium white (WN, WB, SN)
  • Magenta (WN only!)
  • Pthalo Green (WB) or Viridian (WT)
  • Yellow Ochre Burnt (WB) or Yellow Ochre (WT, WN)
  • Cadmium Yellow Hue (e.g. WT), or similar opaque, bright yellow
  • Burnt Umber (WN)
  • Indian Red (e.g. WT)
  • Indigo (WN)

Not required, but bring along if at hand:

  • Neutral Black (SN) or other black
  • Sèvres Blue (WB) or Cerulean Blue (e.g. OH)
  • Transparent Yellow Oxide (OH),
  • a bright red like Vermillion or Cadmium Red.

Supports and other materials

  • Canvas boards, pre-stretched canvases or primed smooth masonite boards. Size: between 16X20 and 30X40 cm (NOT inches!), smaller rather than larger. Bring a couple with you, and buy more at the art shop on campus as you need them. Alternatively, apply two or three coats of gesso or primer* to some large sheets of heavy paper or cardboard and decide on the sizes as you need them. *(Any primer will do, but Art Spectrum Oil Prime is easy to apply smoothly)
  • Painting medium**: Liquin (WN) or Drying Linseed Oil (WN) – both fast drying mediums. If you prefer, and have a way of transporting wet canvases home, a normal oil painting medium (OH, WN, etc.) is OK. (**A painting medium is used to thin oil paint, improve its flow, or adjust its drying time).
  • Tear-off pallette, e.g. New Wave White Pad Rectangle or Hand Held.
  • An assortment of flat and round, bristle and/or synthetic bristle or synthetic sable brushes of various sizes.
  • Odourless solvent
  • Small dip cups for paint medium & solvent, or two flat sardine/tuna tins
  • Old rags and paper towels
  • Some paper and pencils or charcoal for sketching, though there won’t be much sketching
  • Blu Tack reusable adhesive (75g pack)
  • Stainless steel palette/mixing knife (NOT plastic)

Protective clothing and covered footwear essential