I am currently deliciously up to my eyes in Pauline Agnew’s latest class, See.Feel.Paint, and as always loving her unique and inspiring way of teaching, pushing myself further than I would if left to my own devices, and sharing with some wonderful fellow artist friends in the Facebook group.

As we come to the end of the first week of the four week course, I thought I’d share some of what I’ve been up to.

We began with collaging the four elements. I’m not a huge collage fan generally but I was reminded in doing this of the huge difference between concept and action; in physically creating these collages I understood afresh things like composition, colour palettes, and most importantly for this course, the myriad colours possible in a painted sky or a seascape for example. Water is never just blue!


Next up was creating an oil pastel drawing using one of Monet’s waterlily paintings as a reference. I did two of these and I think the difference and development is quite marked. Here’s the prep for the first one. I have currently abandoned my studio in favour of working en plein air!


As you may know, I like to get very very involved in my art. 😉


Here is the first one {below}. Not bad, but could have gone a lot further. I was just getting to grips with simultaneously pulling together composition, using oil pastels {with cooking oil and baby wipes!}, and working from Monet while endeavouring to maintain my own style, which of course is kind of inevitable. I don’t think it’s possible to understand the incredible skill Monet possessed until you try to emulate his work!

Waterlilies After Monet - Tara Leaver

I decided to do another one because I knew I hadn’t pushed myself or my ability with the medium to the limits, and this time I used a drawing board as working flat was quite difficult. Good job my carpet is old and shabby; sunflower oil and tiny pieces of oil pastel everywhere.


Here’s the piece when I came out of the trance; it was a very interesting and intense process. I like to play Pauline’s videos alongside me so she’s talking while I’m painting, and I just disappeared into the work. I noticed that I was holding my breath a lot and I do tend to get my whole body involved, even when sitting down! It’s like a dance.

When I re-emerged I felt full, complete and satisfied, which is not always a given and is very addictive!


The completed piece. I really pushed myself on this one, which I find is one of the benefits of taking a live class; accountability and wanting to share your best effort. You can see the difference between this and the first one as I became more confident about how to vary  my marks and keep layering up the colour. With something like this you really can’t do ‘too much’.

Waterlilies After Monet II - Tara Leaver

Pauline is running the course again in August due to popular demand, so if it looks interesting to you you can find more information here; earlybird pricing is currently available too. The class includes and caters to students of all capabilities so don’t be put off if you feel like a beginner!