Guest Post: Workshop Review by Abbe Smith

Oil Painting Workshop Review

Workshop attendee Abbe Smith has kindly written a review for us of her experience on our Oil Painting Workshop. If you’re interested in attending a workshop yourself, you can see what we’ve got coming up here.

I’ve always loved crafts – there’s something about making something with your own hands and displaying it proudly which leaves you feeling pleased with yourself. And a little smug.

The problem it, whilst I’ve always loved it, I don’t have a huge amount of natural ability. I have a cupboard full of broken crafting dreams. I’m yet to finish a knitted scarf that isn’t wonky. And I have a half-finished crochet pot that looks more like a shallow bowl. So the idea of being able to try a different craft before investing in materials and equipment really appeals to me.

Since I’ve moved to Oakham, I’ve done a couple of workshops at Itch Gallery. PMC Jewellery making – great fun, if a little fiddly for my ham-fisted style. Fused glass – I made a giraffe wall hanging that was actually pretty good!

Fused Glass Giraffe by Abbe Smith

Then I wanted to try something a bit different, that might need a bit more of an artistic eye. ‘Oil painting, that could be interesting’ – I thought. I hadn’t really painted since I dropped art at school pre GCSE, and even then I was never very good at it. Sizes, shades, perspective – all things I struggled to translate onto paper.

Apprehensively I turned up on the day with my apron and slightly skeptical hopes of masterpieces, to be greeted by Jenny the gallery owner, our teacher Jane French and other attendees. On the table in front of us there was a huge array of background fabric, crockery, flowers and fruit for us to choose from.

Jane French teaching us the basics on getting started

Jane talked us through the basics of preparing a board to paint on, how much and what paint we needed and showed us how she built up a picture. We then got to choosing our composition – I’ve never been so picky about cherries in my life, I wanted it to be perfect.

Getting Started – Still Life Set up [Image: Abbe Smith]

Another Still Life Set Up

We went back to our easels and set up our composition, and I got to work roughly painting the outline. Jane talked us through the importance of noticing the shadows and light patches, the hints of different colours above the standard ones you could see – all of which would really bring the picture to life.

Early Painting Stages – Building Up the Layers [Image: Abbe Smith]

I began to paint and instantly thought  ‘Well, this looks nothing like a pomegranate and 2 cherries’.  But Jane was really supportive, pointing out slight differences in shades I hadn’t noticed, asked me how I was going to put the shadows and really made me think about what I was doing.

The time flew by, and I finished my first painting. And I was amazed at what I’d achieved, and how much it really looked like a pomegranate and 2 cherries!

Finished Piece! [Image: Abbe Smith]

There was some time left, so I thought I’d have a go at a second composition, this time picking some flowers in a small jug. I used the same principles as before, picking out the shadows and patches of light, looking at the differing shades. Sadly we ran out of time before I could add the finishing touches, but I’m still also proud of this 2nd painting!

Both finished pieces [Image: Abbe Smith]

If you’re considering giving oil painting a go, or have ever been curious about it, I really do recommend this workshop. Everything is explained in a simple and straight forward way, and you can really put your own style on whatever you create. Jane was fantastic, so encouraging and helpful. I thought I’d walk away disappointed and frustrated in what I’d produced, but I’ve honestly never felt prouder! And now the pictures are beautifully framed (via Itch) and on my lounge wall, I love seeing them every day.

Finished Oil Paintings


You can follow Abbe on Instagram @abbe1989 to see more of her crafting makes and follow her progress as she continues on her ‘Picture a Day for a Year’ challenge.

And if you’re interested in attending a workshop yourself, you can see what we’ve got coming up here.






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