Like many of Canada’s large suburban cities, Surrey has a supportive and growing arts community. Surrey’s bustling streets, affordable neighbourhoods, and and family friendly festivals attract new residents and artists from all over Canada and the world. The Surrey Arts Centre hosts everything from theatre to dance performances, and local galleries house works from many of British Columbia’s contemporary artists.
In Surrey there are plenty of opportunities for aspiring artists to learn a new craft. From kids art classes in mixed media to adult courses in ceramics you’ll find an option that catches your interest. If your interest happens to be painting - still life, portraiture, or landscape to name a few varieties - there is likely a neighbourhood studio like Tiggy's At Crescent with something to offer.
Why Take Painting Classes in Surrey?
If you are taking the time to read this article, you have probably developed an interest in painting and maybe even have a passion for the arts. Even if you have your own personal art studio and feel proficient working in a certain medium, classes can be a great way to learn new techniques and meet new people. You may even find a community of like-minded artists to add to your social circle.
Whether you are a novice or experienced painter, taking an art class can get you out of your comfort zone and expose you to new styles, palettes, and subjects. You probably already understand the joy of filling a sketchbook and investing your emotions and thoughts into creating something new, why not bring yourself to an environment where you can get regular critiques and workshop new skills?
When you work alone, you may not realize your full potential: sometimes it takes a new peer group to drive improvement in fun and exciting ways. Joining a community art studio or being part of a course is also the perfect way to build an art community or simply add to your network of friends.
Let’s take a closer look at options for painting classes in Surrey and some basic information about the mediums and supplies you’ll need for art school.
The Three Main Painting Mediums
Painting classes are usually organized by three mediums:
You should consider the attributes of each paint medium as you decide which one you want to work in first. If you are up to it, you might want to spend an afternoon experimenting with each paint to see the one you enjoy the most!
Acrylic painting is a highly accessible paint that works well with modern styles of painting. It’s affordable and easy to find at most craft and dollar stores, and uses water as a solvent. For beginners, acrylics are especially popular for anything from landscape painting to colour abstractions. You’ll find exemplary acrylic paintings from the famed pop artist Roy Lichtenstein.
Watercolour painting, like acrylics, is easy to get into even if you have no experience in painting. You can buy cakes of dry pigment from any art store and mix with water for a medium that is vibrant and easy to clean. While it seems simple, watercolour painting has been practiced by everyone from early humans in caves to the artists of the Sistine Chapel. Watercolour painting classes are popular and you can easily find paint workshops and classes throughout the Surrey area.
Oil painting can seem intimidating to many new artists, and it’s easy to see why: many of the world’s masterpieces are done in oil and it’s hard to imagine working in the same medium as Leonardo DaVinci.
Oil painting is usually a course more intermediate or advanced painters take: it’s more expensive than watercolours and acrylics and requires turpentine as a solvent. If you are determined to paint like the old masters, don’t hesitate to try an oil painting class. It’s a challenge that could lead to a lifelong hobby!
Painting Classes for Beginners
Once you have determined which medium you want to work with, you will probably be stoked to register online for your first class at the closest art centre. It’s important to note, however, that you should develop basic drawing skills prior to picking up a brush.
It may sound like a strategy to get you to sign up for more classes, but drawing and painting are actually closely connected. Having a strong hand at drawing will go a long way in enhancing your painting.
When you do sign up for a beginner painting course, enjoy the experience of spending time with people who are similarly curious and enthusiastic about painting. Remember, painting is also a technical skill and try to balance your creative impulses with the techniques you will learn, like colour mixing, underpainting, and stippling.
Some Basic Painting Techniques
It never hurts to familiarise yourself with basic painting techniques prior to starting class. The colour wheel is one of the best places to start: it provides an understanding of primary, secondary, and tertiary colours that will guide the way you mix and use paint.
Underpainting the canvas is another basic technique used by painters. In this process, the painter applies a layer of neutral paint to enhance the colour and depth of the paint you use to produce your image. Underpainting also prevents uneven absorption and ensures adherence of paint to the canvas.
Let’s explore some of the most typical techniques for using acrylic, oil, and watercolour paints.
Acrylic painting techniques may be identical to the techniques used with other paint mediums, though they may use a different set of names. Dry brush is a method that is exactly as it sounds: the artist puts paint on a brush and directly applies it to a dry canvas.
Washing, on the other hand, is a technique in which the painter thins out acrylic paint with water for the purpose of covering a large surface. You can create a watercolour effect with acrylic washing but with a faster drying time.
Stippling involves applying the tip of the brush repeatedly to create small dots. Also called pointilism, stippling was used famously by Georges Seurat.
Scumbling is a technique in which the artist applies oil paint on a dry brush onto a previously painted surface. It renders a hazy or unfocused atmosphere. The opposite of this technique is alla prima: applying paint on the first layer before it dries.
Flat Wash is used frequently by artists working in watercolour. The artist moistens the brush with water, dips it in the paint cake to collect some colour, and then dilutes that colour with more water. The artist then uses large strokes to cover large areas of a dry canvas. Wet on wet, by contrast, means moistening part of the paper or canvas first then applying flat wash. This creates a dreamier effect common in watercolour paintings.
Art Supplies and Materials You Will Need
There are plenty of arts and crafts stores around Surrey like Michael’s and DeSerres, but shopping for painting supplies can be overwhelming if you don’t know exactly what you want. Before starting a course, speak to your painting instructor or the art program coordinator to get a list of the art materials you need, and whether you need to buy canvas or paper.
For many beginners programs, teachers have extra brushes and palettes available in case students need to borrow. Don’t be afraid to ask, and if you are in a difficult financial situation, your art teacher will certainly understand.
If you do plan to shop for your own art materials, start with a range of brushes. Fine tipped brushes are handy for painting small details, while a wide, flat brush is useful for covering larger surfaces. If you are buying paint, select colours based on the theme of the course; black and white are essential in any palette as they are used for adding light and shade.
Where to Take Classes in Surrey
Surrey has a growing arts community and you will have no problem finding a class in a community centre, neighbourhood studio, or gallery.
The Surrey Arts Centre is a major arts community hub: it is home to theatres, an art gallery, and the International Children’s festival. The centre also hosts visual and performing arts classes to students of all ages and skill levels. You can also find kids programs and arts camps for the summer break. Programs are run by the City of Surrey. Subscribe to their email list for news about their programs or give them a call.
The Semiahamoo Arts Society is a charitable arts foundation providing classes for the White Rock and South Surrey community. They offer a range of quality adult art classes and kids art classes. Taking classes here supports the local arts community, and you can rent the facility for parties and even take potter courses.
Tiggy’s at Crescent is an art school that focuses specifically on painting and drawing. Located near the beach in South Surrey, students will surely find loads of natural inspiration. The school boasts small class sizes which is a plus for anyone looking for a more intimate learning experience.
If you have kids, check out 4Cats Art Studio. The school offers classes for kids of all ages, and also has birthday party packages if the young artist in your family wants to share his or her artistic passion with friends.
Though a group art class can be fun, supportive, and challenging, there can be downsides. Perhaps classes don’t fit in with your schedule, or maybe you want more personal support and guidance. In these cases, finding a private painting tutor can be wonderful and much easier than you think to set up. Superprof is a great option for finding a painting tutor who can meet you in a studio or your home.