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Gina Heyer Untitled, 2008-2009. Oil on board.

The course aims to offer participants a practical and thought provoking introduction to painting. Participants will explore a variety of approaches to challenging the Still Life and Trompe l’oeil genres of painting. The focus will be on creating subtle dialogues between reality and artifice and between carefully selected objects and their surrounding space through careful compositional placement, lighting, colour mixing and paint handling. Participants will get the chance to make their own paint and primer from scratch according to traditional recipes and will be introduced to key technical aspects of painting while applying this knowledge in a series of paintings. Those new to painting will get to grips with the basics of studio setup, anatomy of painting, composition and handling of paint. More experienced painters will get the chance to explore new approaches and painting techniques as well as brush up on their technical knowledge. Although the course will tend towards realism and painting from direct observation, looser and more experimental painting approaches will also be encouraged.

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Gina Heyer Hospital II, 2008-2009. Oil on board.


Gina Heyer is a photorealist painter focusing on the dark and empty interiors of public buildings as her subject matter, painting these with seamless meticulous detail. Her most recent solo exhibition at BRUNDYN + GONSALVES entitled Order & Division was concerned with the architectural and ideological defined parameters of the public institution. She graduated with a Masters of Fine Arts (cum laude) from Stellenbosch University in 2011. She currently teaches drawing part time at the Department of Visual Art at Stellenbosch University.


Introduction and practical presentation about pigment, paint and the anatomy of a painting.
Preparing boards for priming, sizing, making the painting ground from scratch and priming boards. Bring protective clothing as you are guaranteed to get your hands dirty.


Studio setup and talk about materials and good painting practice.
Sketching the white still life in paint. Experimenting with composition, colour mixing and looking at the importance of creative lighting.
3-6 painted sketches.


The painted strangeness of ordinary things: Still Life and Trompe l’oeil slide show and discussion.
Participants construct and paint their own still lives while exploring formal and conceptual elements. An attempt will be made to strike the right tensions and balances between form, ground, tonal value, colour, texture and symbolism in a still life painting to evoke a particular response.
1 – 2 paintings.


Continue painting.


Final touches.
Curating an exhibition. Choosing a title for your group show, curating and displaying paintings and process images.
17:30: exhibition and closing.

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Gina Heyer Girl’s blouse and dead moths, 2005. Oil on board.


A selection of pre-cut hardboard: 3-6 small boards around 15-25cm in diameter each and 1-3 larger boards of around 20-40cm in diameter each. The boards can be of varying sizes or all the same size but keep in mind that as there is limited time in the course to complete paintings, smaller boards are therefore suggested. A slightly square format is recommended with a 2-10 cm difference between sides but you may want to experiment with alternate sizes and formats. Feel free to cut more boards than specified as it will offer more choice and they can be primed and used at a later stage. Thin or thick hardboard may be used for smaller boards, slightly thicker for anything larger than about 25cm.

Apron/protective clothing.

Large house painting brush for priming boards.

Some newspaper.

One sheet each of fine and medium sandpaper used to smooth down primed boards. The grit will depend on the smoothness of board you prefer.

Participants are required to bring a selection of objects and images to be used as source material for their still life paintings. Still life objects: These should include personal, valuable, treasured, unusual, mundane, utilitarian, discarded, throwaway and ugly objects. Some of the objects should be entirely white. Anything that catches your eye might be used but try to avoid overly clichéd objects. Include objects you may not ordinarily associate with the traditional genre of still life. Think about the kind of surface you might like to place objects on. You could use the bare table, a wooden box, a found texture or a piece of fabric. Bring some options along. Images: Select a few magazines that can be cut up. If you have any interesting photos of people, places, objects, text or textures bring these along too.

A cardboard box roughly 30-40cm in diameter and some white paper that can be used to line or cover the box. This will be used to control the lighting scenario of your still life.


Pencils, preferably HB or 2B and pencil sharpener for preparatory drawing onto boards.

Around 10 sheets of white paper, ordinary printer paper will do.

A selection of oil paint preferably but acrylic may also be used. Oil paint will be easier to mix and to achieve smooth blends but it does take a while to dry. Acrylic paint has the benefit of quick drying but it becomes harder to achieve smooth gradients and the colour tends to lighten when dried making colour matching a little trickier. Bring the paints you have. Any missing colours can be easily purchased from Uni Stat in the Neelsie or from The Deckle Edge at Stellenbosch Square. A selection of my own oil paints will also be available for participants to test out. If you do wish to purchase paints beforehand I suggest buying a trusted quality brand like Winsor & Newton, Lukas, Maimerei or Rembrandt rather than Zellen or Dala. Suggested colours: titanium white, cadmium yellow, cadmium red, cobalt blue, viridian, magenta, burnt umber, burnt sienna, yellow ochre. Other colours I use often include naples yellow, olive green, cinnabar green, cerulean blue and Indian yellow. No black paint will be allowed.

A selection of artists paint brushes. The bristles should be rounded or pointed and not end in a perfectly straight edge. Synthetic fiber brushes or sable brushes are suggested over hog hair brushes. Again any brushes you don't have can easily be purchased from Uni Stat.

Artist's palette: pretty much any clean neutral nonabsorbent surface such as a wooden, melamine or disposable palette or even an ice cream tub lid, sheet of glass painted white on the underside or a white dinner plate. Palettes should preferably be white but can be grey, brown wood or any other relatively neutral colour.

Artist's white spirit (or distilled/genuine turpentine although this is slightly more toxic). Available from art shops.

Artist's refined linseed oil

Rags/tissue to clean and wipe off brushes.

A block of green sunlight soap


Cameras are optional but suggested as it may be useful to record the various stages of a painting for retrospective analysis as well as photographing still lives in case paintings are not finished in the limited course time.

Liquin or drying mediums such as Winsor & Newton's liquin light gel.

Palette knife

Gina can be contacted on 0822020650 if you are unsure about materials.

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