Alex Kelly – Masterclass – Alla Prima Floral Portrait in Oil

Date: 19th October 2024 - 20th October 2024
Time: 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Spaces: 7
Alex Kelly - Masterclass - Alla Prima Floral Portrait in Oil

Two Day Course Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th October

This two-day workshop offers a hands-on experience in alla prima oil painting, focusing on floral subjects. Through a systematic approach, you will learn how to translate your observations into authentic paintings that capture form and light nuances. Working directly from life, you’ll gain practical tools to enhance your skills.

Some prior experience with oil paint is essential to get the most from this workshop

Workshop Outline

Each day, Alex will commence with a presentation on his painting philosophy, followed by hands-on demonstrations. Students will then apply these techniques under Alex’s guidance, receiving personalised feedback based on their skill level. Practical subjects covered include honing observation skills, simplification, composition, drawing, various modes of seeing, value relationships, form and light, colour aspects, edges, and abstraction.

Includes homemade lunch and refreshments both days

About the tutor

Alex received a Fine Art BA with honours from Manchester Metropolitan University (UK) in 1993. He has also trained and worked as a graphic designer for over 20 years and has a HNC (Distinction) in Graphic Design from New College Nottingham (UK). He has also had various studio practices and art related teaching positions with schools and colleges before devoting himself full-time to painting.

His work is in many private collections around the world.

He currently lives and works in Birmingham, UK.

Current art practice

​I primarily employ the alla prima technique and working directly from life. This approach presents an exciting opportunity for a painter to enhance their skills and refine their perception. The skill of painting to me is about ‘learning to see’. This is a process of cultivating heightened sensitivity and penetrating discernment. It necessitates a prompt and direct response to the subject, requiring the interpretation of new visual challenges into the language of paint.

I draw inspiration from a wide range of subjects, and my creative process begins by cultivating a sensitivity to the inherent beauty found in direct experiences. By beauty, I refer to anything that evokes emotion, sparks inspiration, provokes curiosity, or simply captures my interest and warrants further exploration.

“To me, technique should be unlimited… [with] constant growth in ability and understanding. It must never be mere virtuosity but an endless accumulation of qualities and wisdom… First comes the initial idea for a work – what the artist desires to portray, to bring into concrete manifestation. In order to fulfill this task, he must begin to build, to organise.” 

Nicolai Fechin     

What you will need to bring

Below is a list of tools and materials that the tutor commonly uses and suggests for this workshop. Optional items are marked with a star and can be replaced with materials you might already possess.

Subject  (we will work from life, not photographic reference):

  • 2-3 Roses with leaves and a small glass vase/jar or another floral subject with large petals. Single-coloured subjects are preferred over variegated ones.
  • Background panels or cloth in contrasting colours with the subject (avoid highly chromatic/saturated colours).

Having a variety of brush types and sizes is recommended. Specifically, the brushes I use are all from Rosemary & Co:

  • Ivories, Extra Long Flats (main brush is size 4, also sizes 2, 6, 8)
  • Eclipse Extra Long Combers (sizes 1/2″, 1/4″, 1/8″)
  • Evergreen Rigger (size 2)
  • Palette knife with a triangular blade (around 7cm x 1.5cm)

Paints (I use Jackson’s and Rembrandt Oil paints but use whatever you prefer)
Titanium white
Cadmium yellow medium or other medium yellow
Cadmium yellow deep or other warm yellow
Cadmium red or other medium red
Magenta or Alizarin Crimson
Transparent oxide red or brown or Burnt Sienna
Colbalt blue or Cobalt blue hue or Pthalo blue
Ultramarine Blue
Viridian or Viridian hue or Pthalo Green*
Payne’s Grey

Painting Supports
Here are the recommendations for the support:

  • Oil primed support: This is essential. Gesso/acrylic primed surfaces won’t work with the alla prima approach.
    • You can prepare your own or purchase a pre-primed surface. Make sure it’s well primed (2 coats). Jackson’s, Robertson, Gamblin, W&N offer oil primer options. Note that it should be prepared at least a week before the workshop to allow enough time to dry properly.
    • If you have a gesso/acrylic primed support, you can apply oil primer over it (two thin coats are ideal).
    • Other options include hardboard, HDF, MDF, wooden/plywood panels, and canvas (cotton, linen, polycotton).
    • Raw canvas and paper need to be sized with rabbit skin glue or PVA size before applying oil-based primer to ensure longevity.
    • For the workshop, you’ll need 2-4 supports that are about 10 x 12 inches.


Here’s the list of additional items you’ll need for the workshop:

  • A palette made of glass, acrylic, wood, or plastic is preferred, in a midtone grey for mixing colors.
  • Pot of OMS (odourless mineral spirits) or walnut oil for brush cleaning.
  • Small pot for medium – you can use a mix of stand oil and OMS (1:4 ratio), or alternatives like W&N Liquin
  • Hooked stick or walking stick to steady your painting arm*
  • Paper towels or rags for cleaning
  • Brush holder for easy access*
  • Viewfinder made from 2 pieces of L-shaped card for composition.
  • Calipers for measuring*
  • Painter’s apron for protection*

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