How It Works

An open letter from Martin Kinnear

Thank you for visiting our website.  If you are reading this then you probably have an interest in painting and presumably wish to improve your skills with oils . The being the case I’d like to offer you some hard won help and advice,  and I’d like to set down a few words about our new 2020 program in particular and the School in general

  1. Painting can be learned quickly and easily but like all skills will take time to master
  2. Learn good habits so you never reinforce bad ones through ignorance
  3. Skills facilitate creativity; the more you can do, the better you can do it.
  4. You already have a style, but you might not yet have the skills to put it on canvas

I know it sounds simple, but those four principles should really be taught in every art school. When we set up the Norfolk Painting School in 2007, it was through a sense of frustration that I had to learn all of these – and learn the hard way –  for myself.

Teaching myself to paint has been transformative. In 2000 I had a corporate job a 70 hour week and stress. Now I paint for a living and love every day of it. Seize your time.

Since 2007,  I (and more recently we),  have been delivering structured, practical oil painting courses which deliver the above.  Does it work? Well in 2007 I had to run the School alone, and now I have a faculty of successful practicing, self representing painters who have come up through the courses and are confidently passing on those skills to the next generation.

Our foundation tutor Fen startec to paint with us in 2010, now she’s teaching hundreds of students valuable core skills and is a successful artist in her own right.

And if all of that sounds familiar, then it is. The Norfolk Painting School offers exactly the kind of practical art education that the Masters received when they learned to paint. Art school as it used to be in the past , can be now and should be in the future.

Talking painting – two Diploma students. The School is about sharing ideas not just learning them

I would add one important caveat to that though. Unlike other schools we don’t have a school style or a house look to our work.  When started the School in 2007 I took a big decision to add a fifth principle to the ones above

5. Learn how paints works first, then learn how you should use it.

We do this not by teaching how I work, or how our faculty works, but by always and exclusively focussing upon transferrable skills such as value planning, colour mixing or optics. Our students learn to emphasise what they like the most, sideline what they feel they don’t need and  develop their own style.

The art school which teaches you to paint like you – that’s the Norfolk Painting School, and I commend it to you.

A tutor group before a workshop, did you know that we discuss your work every day and adjust the courses to suit the class? It was all too much for Silvi!

For 2020 we have an amazing line up of core and one of workshops.

Our core workshops remain based upon my original 2007 Simply Oils program – last week a student wrote to me to say that three days on it were more useful than all of her full time education including a full degree. As long as that remains the case we will offer it as the base for all painters entering the School.

Foundation course tutor Fen teaching glazing to Beyond Simply students, 2019

Expanding upon Simply we have some new specialist courses biased towards both contemporary  painting, traditional glazing and figure work. All are great ways to expand your knowledge of areas that particularly interest you, but are set at a very accessible intermediate level.

Fen with her study after Freud. – Figures & Portraits.

Beyond that I am again running advanced specialist workshops on the key areas of the craft of painting such as colour, value and compositional design. All of which are wonderful top ups for graduates of our one year Diploma and experienced painters alike.

Specialist glazing anyone? If you want to know about oils the answer is ‘yes , we cover that’.

Finally, and because we are painters who teach, not teachers who happen to paint – I’m opening my professional studio practice to students as usual though a couple of master classes. This year my renewed interest in optics has led me to put on an in depth Turner course and a very exciting and challenging session on Modern British painting – with particular reference to the late, great Joan Eardley.  Both of these strands will be key to my next solo show at The Bowes gallery in 2020, which will run until Spring 2021.

Catch my next show at the prestigious Bowes Museum and Gallery from Nov 2020.

Thank you once more for taking an active interest in our work, and I hope to paint with you in the coming year.

See you in class.

Martin