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Plein Air Painting

Kevin McKay
  • Term: Term One 2018
  • Start Date: 17 Feb 2018
  • End Date: 14 Apr 2018
  • Time: Saturdays 10am–2pm
  • Number of Classes: 8
  • Teacher: Kevin McKay
  • Level: All Levels
  • Age: All Ages
  • Location: The National Art School
  • Availability: Unavailable

Explore the world of landscape painting and learn to paint confidently in the studio and outside using acrylic or oil paints. This course introduces various methods of responding to natural and human-made environments, working in the studio in the grounds of the historic National Art School and at harbourside locations. Kevin McKay shows you how to make quick plein air studies, apply the methods of historical and contemporary masters, and compose a landscape painting in the studio. He introduces the motifs and methods that underpin the classical and picturesque landscape, explains the principles of composition and perspective, and provides practical tips on how to prepare supports and grounds and to structure paint layers. Kevin gives demonstrations on how to mix colours accurately and how to bring atmosphere and drama into your landscape paintings, and shares useful insights in a supportive and creative environment.

Kevin McKay

Kevin McKay is an urban landscape painter who holds a Masters in Fine Art degree from the National Art School and exhibits at May Space, Sydney. Accolades include the Basil and Muriel Hooper Scholarship from the Art Gallery of NSW, 2006; the Sydney, City of Villages Art Prize, 2009; the William Fletcher Foundation Scholarship to the British School at Rome, 2011; the Kogarah Art Prize for Emerging Artists, 2012; the Waverley Art Prize for Oil Painting, 2013; and the Allan Gamble Memorial Art Prize, 2015. He has taught at the Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney Grammar School, Hazelhurst Regional Gallery, Waverley Woollahra Art School and the National Art School. Visit his website at

Drawing Tools

  • A selection of your favourite sketching tools
  • A sketchbook and pencil for taking notes, making thumbnail sketches etc.
  • Willow charcoal
  • 1 regular white rubber eraser
  • 1 soft putty rubber


Oil – Art Spectrum (recommended)

  • Titanium White – Large tube
  • Permanent (Alizarine) Crimson (cool red)
  • Spectrum Red (warm red)
  • Spectrum Yellow (mid yellow)
  • Australian Red Gold (warm yellow)
  • Pthalo Blue (cool blue)
  • French Ultramarine Blue (warm blue)
  • Veridian or Pthalo Green
  • Spectrum Orange
  • 1 bottle of odourless solvent (Art Spectrum)
  • NOTE: Oil Painting medium will be made and supplied in class

OR…Acrylic – Atelier (recommended)

  • Titanium White – large tube
  • Permanent Crimson (Cool red)
  • Napthol Red Light (warm red)
  • Transparent Yellow or Red Gold (warm yellow)
  • Pthalo blue (cool blue)
  • French Ultramarine (warm blue)
  • Pthalo Green
  • Orange
  • 1 bottle of acylic medium - Clear Painting Medium (NOT “gel” or drying retarder)
  • Earth palette in medium of choice
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Raw Umber
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Payne’s Grey


  • A range of hog bristle brushes (flat) size 2 – 10)
  • 1 Filbert size 4-8
  • 1 Synthetic flat size 4-6
  • 1 Synthetic sable fine size 1
  • And any brushes you currently like to use.


  • A3 Pad of canvas paper or 300gsm cartridge paper
  • Additional support such as canvas and boards will be discussed if required.


  • 1 hand-held or disposable palette without ridges or indents
  • 1 palette knife
  • several small jars with lids (for medium and solvent)
  • 1 A3 board (or slightly larger) to be used as backing board
  • 1 roll of masking tape
  • scissors
  • 50 cm ruler
  • cotton rags

Ground (To Prepare Supports)

  • A synthetic neutral-coloured gesso can be made using:
  • White acrylic paint
  • Acrylic earth colours (to tint)
  • Whiting powder (to give it tooth)
  • Sun protection – hat, sun cream and sun glasses (while working outside)

Optional – something to sit on (rug/cushion/portable stool) and a portable easel.

Art materials can be purchased at Parkers Art Supplies on campus at NAS.

Protective clothing and covered footwear essential