FULL! New registrations will be placed on a waitlist.

July 18-21 (4 days, Mon-Thurs)-Early bird Fee $500 ($550 after Feb. 28)


GILLIAN RICHARDS ~ Creating Dynamic Compositions to Abstract the Urban Landscape

About the workshop

Media: acrylics

Levels: Suitable for experienced and early to intermediate painters who have basic working knowledge of drawing, colour theory and perspective.

Our urban surroundings—even the most ordinary of spaces—are full of light, shadow, and shapes that hold endless possibilities for creating exciting compositions. Recognizing the essential shapes and tones within complex urban imagery helps us learn how we can simplify our subject so that we can illuminate its most basic forms. We thereby begin to see the possibilities for abstraction within representational imagery and we can enjoy making decisions about colour, where to further simplify our imagery, or emphasize detailed areas of our subject to strengthen our composition.

What to expect:

Days 1 & 2

On days one and two, I will demonstrate techniques I use in my own paintings, such as blocking in basic shapes over a vibrant ground while allowing areas to remain loose and ambiguous. We will also look at the work of other urban landscape painters who have inspired me and the direction of my work.

Starting with the application of vibrant acrylic washes as a ground on either small, primed canvas boards or Yupo paper,  we will begin our work by creating tonal thumbnail sketches using Payne’s grey (ultramarine blue mixed with burnt sienna) and white. We will also experiment with brush technique, paint consistency, working wet into wet, and allowing the paint to “do its thing,” or practice “taking charge of it” for more precise rendering.

Days 3 & 4

On days three and four, we will begin working on a larger painting using imagery provided, on either Yupo* or a primed canvas. I will demonstrate steps for projecting the image through the technique "blocking in,” in dark and light areas to establish the structure of the image. After blocking in, we can then build our work more intuitively. These steps will allow us to build a strong and defined structure upon which we can paint more loosely, bringing vibrancy and life to our paintings through the fluidity of the paint and our brushstrokes.

*Yupo is a mixed media, non-buckling paper. It comes in pads and single sheets of various sizes. I encourage students to try it because it has a smooth surface upon which paint slides easily. It is available at Opus and Deserres.

Supplies list

Download the supplies list for the workshop.

About the artist

Gillian’s’ paintings in recent years have been an exploration of the unremarkable and normally unnoticed spaces that are a part of her surrounding urban landscape. Subjects such as parking lots or public parks appear in her work. Drawn to the quality of light these spaces possess, and observing their ability to suggest a mood or imply a human presence, she seeks to draw from these otherwise ordinary and sometimes stark locations a sense of intimacy and emotion.

Along with her fine art practise over the last three decades, Gillian has completed numerous painting commissions for local and international clients, and has worked as a scenic artist in the film industry.

She studied art at Okanagan College, The Banff Centre and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2014. Gillian lives and works in Vancouver, Canada. She is represented by Elissa Cristall Gallery, VAG Art Rental and Sales and Artfully Canada.

On the web

Visit the artist’s website at: gillianrichardsartist.com

and Instagram: gillianrichardsartist


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