Classical Art Atelier

Towards Impressionist Painting

3-Day Oil Painting Workshop with Adrian Cooke

By the end of the 19th century, some painters straddled two worlds: the grand manner derived from Classical Realism, and a looser bravura style that leaned more towards Impressionism. Formally trained in the atelier method, these artists had gradually loosened their style to adopt new and freer methods and trends in painting. Anders Zorn from Sweden, Joaquin Sorolla from Spain, and John Singer Sargent, an American expatriate, fall into this category of painters who emulate the best of the old and new worlds.

In this three-day oil painting workshop, you will be introduced to the painting practices of these three turn-of-the-20th-century masters - Zorn, Sorolla and Sargent - who were not only contemporaries but also friends and friendly rivals.

Towards Impressionist Painting Workshop will be held at Brookfield Campus, UCC, Cork,
on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 08-10 May 2020.
Limited Places! Please BOOK EARLY to ensure your place on this workshop and SAVE 10%!

Each student will select one master painting by Zorn, Sorolla or Sargent to copy in order to learn their methods and techniques. Copying master paintings is a standard 'atelier method' approach to learning the skills of oil painting, and one that has been practised by all of the Old Masters.

In this workshop, you will learn the principles of academic oil painting as well as the alla prima style employed by these master painters, covering topics such as gesture, proportion and the subtle and accurate use of colour. As well as pre-mixing colours and values on the palette, you will also be shown how to mix on the canvas, wet-in-wet, and learn how to recreate the expressive and painterly effects used by Zorn and his contemporaries. Colour and brushwork will play a very important role in these paintings, and you will receive detailed instruction about Zorn's limited palette as well as colour theory in general.

The entire process will be illustrated through a cohesive step-by-step procedure designed to enhance the student's ability to render the human form.

Materials List
  • Basic materials included*
  • Handouts
  • Practical exercises
  • Live Demonstrations
  • Slide Presentations
  • Refreshments provided

*Students will be required to bring certain materials.

"I could not paint at all if I had to paint slowly. Every effect is so transient, it must be rapidly painted."

Joaquin SOROLLA (1863-1923)

Workshop Outline

Day-to-Day Work

Day 1: Friday

Getting Started

On the first morning, you will be introduced to some basic concepts about pictorial representation, namely: design, value and form. You will work on some preliminary exercises including matching a value colour strip and rendering a flesh-toned sphere.

In the afternoon, you will begin your master copy painting. These first steps are all about gesture and placement - getting the figure painting started and generally establishing where everything is going to fit. Drawing and good planning will play an essential role at this stage.

Day 2: Saturday

Colour & the Zorn Palette

On the second day, you will lay in the dominant colours in the lights and in the darks to completely fill out the canvas. You will be shown how to set up your palette correctly, handle the oil painting medium effectively, and understand some basic colour theory including the Zorn palette and Munsell's Colour System. Saturday will focus on big-form modelling. The key principles of oil painting, as well as traditional studio practices, will be demonstrated and explained. Some of these include working on a coloured ground (or 'imprimatura'), understanding composition, developing contrast and value, colour mixing, and brushwork.

You will learn how to:

  • Draw with the paintbrush
  • Create three-dimensional volumes
  • Use of a set palette
  • Mix flesh tones for full-colour painting
  • Use and understand oil painting materials
The older I become, the more I realise that drawing is the most important of all the problems of picture-making. Joaquin Sorolla (1863-1923)
Day 3: Sunday

Expressive Brushwork

On the final day, you will complete a second and final pass of the painting, turning your attention now to the smaller and medium forms. Capturing the energy and vitality of these paintings with expressive brushwork will be main goal, as well as creating transitions of tone and carefully refining the quality of edges.

Sargent's, as much as Zorn and Sorolla's, approach to painting allowed for more spontaneous, less controlled brush strokes which gave the effect of capturing the sitter in a candid moment, and he believed that styles were techniques to be used rather than an end representation in themselves.


In the afternoon, you will bring your master copy painting to a conclusion, and we will spend a little time assessing the work.

Workshop Details

The Towards Impressionist Painting Workshop will take place in Cork this May 2020. See details and special offer below, or contact us to find out more and to enrol.

# Venue Duration Day Time Dates Price Discount
1 Brookfield Campus, UCC, CORK 3 Days Fri.-Sun. 10.00am-5.00pm 08-10 May 2020 € 300 € 270

Important Notes

  • You must book before 29 February 2020 to avail of the 10% early bird discount.
  • Fees are non-refundable and non-transferrable.
  • Classical Art Atelier reserves the right to cancel any course or workshop at any time if the minimum number of students required is not reached. In such cases, your fee will be fully refunded. But if you are booking accommodation, you may want to consider taking out travel insurance to cover any cancellation costs.
  • This is an oil painting course, and uses oil paints, solvents and mediums (such as mineral spirits, turpentine and linseed oil) that have a small and safe degree of toxicity but can emit strong fumes, which may cause headaches, drowsiness and skin irritations. Our classrooms are well-ventilated but please be aware that we cannot eradicate these fumes completely, and that by enrolling on this course you are accepting these conditions.

About Adrian Cooke

Painting Instructor

Adrian Cooke has been working as an artist for over 25 years, initially pursuing an education and career in classical music - piano and music composition (1996-2002), and later spending 10 years working in graphic design.

Largely a self-taught visual artist, he began his training in classical drawing and painting in 2012, taking courses at The Drawing Studio, Dublin, Vitruvian Studio, Chicago, and Watts Atelier in California. He is continuing to study classical painting at the Florence Academy of Art this year. His first exhibition was a series of classical portraits and master copy drawings at 33 The Mall, Waterford, in 2014.

This kind of education in classical realist drawing and painting is just not available in mainstream third-level art colleges here in Ireland, so it was necessary for me to look elsewhere, at specialised international fine art academies, to learn these traditional painting and drawing techniques and practices. Hopefully, in turn, my school and I can now provide this much sought after training for other artists. Adrian Cooke, Artist and Director at Classical Art Atelier

In 2015, Adrian established his own private art school, Classical Art Atelier, which operates at most major arts and education venues across the south of Ireland. He has been teaching there for the last 5 years, and his school has enrolled several hundred students to date from all kinds of artistic backgrounds, both amateur and professional, and from all over Ireland and abroad.

Adrian works predominantly in traditional drawing and painting media, regarding these fundamental skills and techniques as essential building blocks for his own work. His artistic style, though, would be better described as Abstract Realism.

Materials Lists


Unstretched canvas will be provided by the academy. However, it is imperative that you bring a portfolio case large enough to fit a canvas 50x40cm or some other means of taking your wet canvases home with you. Your work will not be stored by the academy. You will need to bring a certain amount of materials yourself. All materials and art supplies are available at Cork Art Supplies, where you will be entitled to a 10% discount upon enrolling for this workshop, or at Jackson's Art Supplies UK

Oil Colours
  • Titanium White
  • Ivory Black
  • Burnt Umber
  • Raw Umber
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Cadmium Yellow Medium
  • Vermillion or Cadmium Red Medium
  • Alizarin Crimson
  • French Ultramarine Blue
  • 4 x Bristle Filbert (size 4)
  • 2 x Bristle Filbert (size 6)
  • 2 x Soft Synthetic Filbert (size 8)
  • 1 x Soft Filbert (size 12)
  • 1 x Soft Round (size 1)
  • 1 x Soft Fan Brush (size 6 or 8)
  • Liquin
  • Fast Drying Linseed Oil
  • Odourless or Low Odour Mineral Spirits (or Turpentine)
  • Wooden Palette
  • Palette Knife
  • Palette Cups
  • Glass Jar
  • Paper Towels
  • Masking Tape
  • Skewer or knitting needle
  • Mahlstick
  • Portfolio Case
Towards Impressionist Painting Workshop

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