Calling all BPC artists! Summer Exhibition

Do you have a favourite piece of artwork you created at BPC? We’re inviting those of you who have produced work here in the past two years to submit your art for display at our upcoming exhibition.

Summer Exhibition

Friday 20 January 2017, 6pm to 9pm. Official Opening 7pm!

Open Weekend FREE Events

Saturday 21 January
Studio Painting. Bring your own materials.
10am-12pm: Life Model (clothed) for all to draw. Bring your own pencil & paper.

Sunday 22 January, 10am-5pm
Refreshments provided, Lucky Door prizes
Come along and bring your family and friends

student art exhibition

From our 2015 Student Exhibition


Brisbane Painting Classes invites all students to submit up to two paintings. One painting may be chosen for hanging at the Exhibition and Open Day weekend.

To submit your expression of interest please fill in the registration form (Download in Word or PDF) and email Marcel Desbiens at [email protected] by Wednesday 18th January 2017, 1pm.

You will be advised via email as to which painting has been selected and the arrangements for delivery and pick up.

Can you help on the day?
We are also looking for volunteers to help out on the day. Please contact us at [email protected] or on Ph:0409 641 426 if you are interested in getting involved.

What do you do for yourself?

By Marcel Desbiens.

Bonjour, Marcel here…

Many people come to me wanting to learn how to paint and I am always curious as to their motive and desire.

I am also interested to see how popular the idea is of getting involved in the arts – whether it’s painting, drawing, sculpture, craftwork or even colouring-in, such as what is found in an ad.

For example:

Beautifully illustrated … Colouring Book is … prompting you to meditate on your artwork as you mindfully and creatively fill these pages with colour.  Take a few minutes out of your day, wherever you are, and colour your way to peace and calm.


I regularly hear students say that meditation or finding peace and calmness is their major reason for doing art.

In this world of consumerism, I see an obvious switch in self-rewarding from material purchases towards life experiences. It corresponds with a strong increase in workshops enrolment of all types like physical exercises, gym, boot camps, personal training, dance, as well as traveling experiences.
Painting is more than just the paint you place on canvas. It becomes an experience with yourself, keeping this sacred time for yourself, taking challenges to play with liquid paint for a visual stimulation. It is just the matter of making an appointment with yourself, finding peace and calm and isolation in your own bubble.
The final result of the painting is less important than the experience of making it. As we often hear “it is the journey…”

To view what is available for you, click here to see our timetable of events.


Ask the Artist | Julie Deeks

Julie Deeks

Julie Deeks (left) with Linda Armstrong (right) at last year’s Andrew Bonneau workshop.

We asked Julie Deeks – artist, student and BPC admin assistant – a few questions about her and her art.

What subject do you like to paint most and why?
Flowers – I love the smoothness of the oil and the lovely subtle shades dry brushing and mopping produces.

Where do your ideas come from?
I photograph a lot of flowers, so mainly my ideas are from my own photographs.

What medium do you prefer?
I have some experience painting with pastels but since completing Marcel’s oil painting courses, I love the depth of colour and brilliance I can achieve with oils.

Do you have a preference for the size of your paintings?
Big, unfortunately! – takes a lot of paint and a lot of time but worth it!

There are many surfaces to choose from, do you have a favourite?
MDF Board – with around 5 coats of gesso.

What inspires you to paint?
Nature, beautiful flowers and subjects that mean something special to family and friends.

With our busy lives, how often do you get to paint?
I had to give up working about 2 years ago so I paint almost every day, very lucky.

What do you do when things go wrong?
Marcel says never throw out a painting it can always be fixed. So I leave it and come back later and try again.

Are there any artists who you are particularly inspired by?
The “old masters”. I am particularly fond of Monet. A friend of mine visiting France recently sent me photos of Monet’s Garden – so beautiful.

When did you first become interested in painting? Were you able to start painting then?
I painted only in pastel around 30 years ago but children and a busy career soon took over my time.

Have you ever painted subjects outside your comfort zone?
I have only just started to – only to make myself try new ideas.

What benefits does painting provide you?
A serious illness affects every part of life, painting is a wonderful distraction from which I get so much joy. Painting slows one down often for hours on end. It provides an escape from an over active mind and calms at the same time.

Do you listen to music when you paint? What type of music do you listen to?
Yes, Sons of Anarchy, Albums 1,2,3! Over and over.

If you could offer advice to an artist just starting off, what would it be?
Don’t stop!

From where have you learnt your painting techniques?
Course and workshops over the years mostly pastel. I started with BPC introductory level in oil painting and quickly became hooked on Marcel’s knowledge and experience in teaching.

Ask the Artist | Lara McKenzie

Lara McKenzieWhere do your ideas come from?

Nature. Whether it’s the patterns of water drops or water reflections, beautiful flowers , rock formations or rippling desert sand. Nature provides an endless source of inspiration for me. I always find some amazing patterns in nature while I am bushwalking with my family.

What medium do you prefer?

Oil – I love the slow drying time & the ability to play with my paintings for an extended period of time & to gradually build them up layer by layer.

There are many surfaces to choose from, do you have a favourite?

I’m moving towards a rough canvas surface at the moment. I also love MDF board.

What inspires you to paint?

Painting is a part of me and I can’t imagine not having painting in my life! It is how I best express myself, it is my meditation, my joy, my therapy … I love being able to channel my emotions through the painting process. Nothing else matters while I am painting!

How often do you get to paint?

I am very lucky. I paint 4-5 days per week.

What do you do when things go wrong?

I try to resist the urge to absolutely destroy what I’m working on and either leave it to the side for another time and work on something I’m feeling happy with my progress on, or I use the opportunity of things not going the way I planned to try to take the painting in a different and more experimental direction where I am not so attached to the outcome and rather focus on the process.

Are there any artists who you are particularly inspired by?

Yes so many! Marcel of course for his technical brilliance. I have learnt so much from Marcel and continue to do so.

I have been in love with Australian Mathew Johnson’s work since I discovered him 10 years ago – his use of colour is a constant inspiration to me. Other artists I’ve always loved are Georgia O’Keefe, Edvard Munch, Kandinsky, Picasso, Bridget Riley.

When did you first become interested in painting?

I have always been interested in painting for as long as I can remember. Before I started school! Art was always my favourite subject at school and has remained a constant in my life whether painting or appreciating art. I have gone through periods in the past of not painting for various reasons such as travel & family but I am so happy now to be painting full time again!

Have you ever painted subjects outside your comfort zone?

Yes – people. I am currently working on a painting of my 2 boys swimming under water and this is a real challenge. The painting is currently having some time out while I have a think about my next step forward with it!

Do you listen to music when you paint?

Yes. I have discovered Spotify through Marcel. I have many play lists set up depending on my mood. I love it!

Ask the Artist | Purple Chang

Purple ChangPurple has completed Levels 1, 2 and some specialised workshops in Oil Painting at BPC. She has been working on her own painting projects and attends Studio Painting sessions as well as Shared Private sessions.

She completed this superb piece in a Studio Painting session earlier this year, featuring her 18-year-old son as the subject.

What subject do you like to paint most and why?

My family. I often will catch my sons unaware of being photographed, which creates ideas for my paintings.

Where do your ideas come from?

I try to find something to paint and will keep looking until I get the right picture, at the right moment, at the right time in life.

What medium do you prefer?

Oil and watercolour.

What is your favourite colour to paint with?


Do you paint large or small, what surface do you prefer?

Large, rough surface – canvas.

How often do you get to paint?

Almost every day.

What do you do when things go wrong?

I will just do the part of the painting that is not yet right again. Oil is forgiving.

Watercolour, I would do another one!

Which artist inspire you?

Francis Bacon.

Do you listen to music while painting? What is your favourite?

Depending on my mood I like listening to classical, pop and rap

What is your occupation?

I am a full time mum of 3 teenage boys.

What benefits does painting provide you?

It makes me happy, I can apply what I have learnt, see things differently and use it to tell my story.

If you could offer advice to an emerging artist, what would it be?

Try as much as you can, try everything and never give up.

Ask the Artist: Regina Lurie


What do you like to paint and why?
I like to paint landscapes, flowers and anything that is beautiful. Because it is there.

Where do your ideas come from?
From my travels, the garden and from nature as a whole.

What medium do you prefer?
Oil. I have tried acrylics and charcoal, but definitely lean towards the former because it is so much easier to blend.

Do have a preference for the size of the painting?
That depends entirely on the subject matter. Mostly I do medium size paintings.

What inspires you to paint?
The sheer joy of it – in fact the whole process of being able to put a scene onto the canvass and actually get all the proportions, colours, tones etc. just right! Not always easy!

What do you do when things go wrong?

Firstly I try to figure out as to why it went wrong and then I try to fix it. If I can’t I give it a break and come back to the painting later. If I still can’t do it, I will ask for advice!

Are there any Artists that you are particularly inspired by?
I love the impressionists, like Claude Monet and van Gogh, also Arthur Streeton, Tom Roberts, Eugene Guerard, Margaret Olley and Lloyd Reese, just to name a few!

When did you first become interested in painting? Were you able to start then?
I have been interested in Art for many years. However, I ran a business for over 35 years and I was very time poor! During that time I saw many beautiful scenes and I always wished that I could paint! Hence it wasn’t until I finally retired that I made a start. The real start came when I met Marcel and enrolled in his beginners course. Since then there have been a number of workshops and mentoring classes … still ongoing! His patience with new students and the willingness to share his vast knowledge is legendary!

How long have you been painting?
Just 5 years.

Have you ever painted subjects out of your comfort zone?
Yes! Anything that I haven’t done before is out of my comfort zone! It is good to go there and come out winning!

What benefits does painting provide you?
When I paint, I seem to be in another world! I think it stops my brain from becoming
rusty. When doing workshops I really enjoy the company of other artists, everyone is very encouraging and uplifting! I come home from the latter, feeling fantastic!

If you could offer advice to an Artist just starting off, What would it be?
Do some course and or workshops and get the right information, it will save a lot of
frustration, time and money!

From where have you learnt your painting techniques?
From all the different works shops I have attended, also from Books and Art
magazines and I am still learning!

What is the best way to use a rigger brush?

Bonjour, Marcel here …

A rigger brush is made of long soft bristles from natural or synthetic sources. They are very similar to the sign writer’s brushes. They come in different length from 20 to 50 mm.

rigger brushThe name comes from the way artists used the brush in painting marine subjects. They used them to paint the fine details and lines for the riggings and multiple masts.

Landscape artists have also used them for fine details in tree trunks, branches, ripples on water, etc.

The best way to use it is to drag the bristle loaded with well diluted paint keeping some pressure and moving in the direction of the handle. The hairs are flattened down to produce a larger line or to hold lightly for a very fine line.

A straight and steady pull to drag the paint is better if made promptly as going slow will cause a risk of shaking. It is important to hold the brush in a rigid manner so your fingers are not bending and the whole movement is coming from the elbow pulling out with a light flexibility of the wrist.

You have to be aware of the pendula mechanics of your arm with the shoulders as the pulling should come in a straight line without interruption. It is also important to set enough space for your arm movement.

In any case, avoid holding this brush like a pen and bending fingers like you are writing as this motion needs much shorter bristles to be precise.

When a curved line is needed, roll the handle slightly towards the right or the left to pull the tip of the brush in the direction you want to go without interruption in your dragging movement.

How a brush works

painting brushesBonjour, Marcel here …

The paint we generally use is in liquid form. We’ve all seen paints sold at hardware stores – they come in various quantities and are made ready to use. The manufacturers advise us to reduce it if necessary, up to 10%, to make it easy to spread.

The colours we use for art are much more concentrated, they need to be reduced quite considerably. We use an absorbent device to hold the paint and lay it down: either a sponge, a roller or a brush. For artistic paintings, brushes are most often used but some people like to use a small spatula. In this case the paint needs to be fairly thick.

Brushes are made of hair or bristles, natural or synthetic. They come in various lengths, thickness and flexibility. We sometimes hear of brushes made of squirrel tail hair, or from pig, goat, mink, dog, camel, horses etc. Basically, every type of hair could be used in the making of brushes.

The bristles are bundled, attached and glued at the base keeping the thin end of the hair together in the same direction. Each piece of hair, independent of its thickness, ends gradually to a very fine point. This is why the bundle, when assembled, should never be cut at the end, to allow the paint to flow naturally by gravity and pressure towards the tip of the hair onto the canvas.

Hair is absorbent and will hold a certain amount of liquid and when grouped in a bundle the physical effect of capillarity (similar to magnetic attraction) will hold more liquid.

As we brush the paint on the surface, we drag the tip of each bristle along and the liquid holding between the bristles, 1 will drop with the effect of gravity and pressure. This is why we often notice a brush mark left on the surface. The tip of each bristle will scratch more or less the canvas and leave a series of parallel lines. The paint flowing between the bristles will quickly flatten and in most cases, depending on the fluidity of the liquid, will cover those lines. A repetitive action overlapping the section will help to leave an even covering layer of colours.

1 The liquid dropped between bristles drops the same way as with the old style pen holding and dropping ink evenly. Pens were mostly made of a thin surface of metal or a solid end of a feather split in half.

Blending (Brushing Techniques)

  • Always brush in both directions, holding the brush at 90 degrees to the canvas (using the tip of the brush and not the side, except for precision side lines).
  • Use the full width of the brush to spread the paint quicker and more evenly.
  • Soften edges by dipping the brush in medium and working around the edge.
  • Further soften and blend by dry brushing across the picture.
  • To add softness use the dry mop brush and brush like a powder puff on relevant areas pushing lightly one side or the other where needed.

Learn more in my workshop: Brush Techniques
Thursday 17 September at the Brisbane Painting Classes studio

What is the ideal painting medium to use?

Bonjour, Marcel here …

First of all, oil colours we buy in the art supplies shop are made of a large portion of dry pigments turned into a paste with a small addition of oil.

Painting medium is used in oil painting for many reasons:

  • to help the flow of the paint under the brush.
  • provide a protecting coating to the surface for lasting strength.
  • produce various optical effects of opacity and transparency.

mediumsIn the past, artists have had to prepare their own paint every day. The paste was first made with a minimum amount of oil and then reduced during the application as needed.

As every artist has their own preference of fluidity on the paste, the amount of liquid added is left to individual choice.

We can find a variety of ready to use mediums in art shops, however many artists like to make their own with the basic ingredients such as: oil, resin, essence (turps), wax, alkyd, water and sometime thickeners.

The commercial mediums usually indicate how to use them – from slow, medium or fast drying. Sometimes they mention the gloss level and the thickness for transparency or thick paste.

I have been using an average slow drying medium for my flower paintings and large landscapes. It is made of 50% linseed oil and 50% turps. It gives me enough time for soft blending.

When working on a small detailed subject I use an Alkyd medium like Liquin or make a fast drying medium by adding more or less Damar resin (10-30%) or any other resin in my basic slow medium.

It’s best to practice with one single medium at a time and learn how to control it. It can take a while to understand its full potential and usefulness. You can then later try others and decide for yourself which ones best suit your style of brush strokes and optical effects.

I would not recommend the use of turps by itself as a way to reduce the colours. The painting surface will suffer in the future with a dull visual appearance, a change in tone on the dark and brilliant colours and a fragile surface effecting the long term preservation of the artwork.

Why is the sky so important in a composition?

sky painting

By Marcel Desbiens

Bonjour, Marcel here …

The sky is the limit!

The sky, especially its cloud formations, is often underestimated in landscape paintings.

It sets the mood for an enhanced atmospheric perspective. We tend to forget how much we can improve our painting by just taking the time to explore “the sky potential”.

The backdrop of a landscape can play an important role into the overall composition, colour and line. They are easy to achieve as we can use, to a large extent, our artistic license to do so.

Un True Dans les Nuages (A Hole In The Clouds) - By Marcel Desbiens - Oil on canvas .

“Un True Dans les Nuages” (A Hole In The Clouds). By Marcel Desbiens. Oil on canvas.

We can create a special mood in the landscape by choosing the right sky. It can at times become dramatic or furious, and, at other times, be calm and serene.

The colours and “abstractly” shapes and lines of the clouds can bring a whole new dimension to our paintings. This also can provide an interesting balance between sharpness and precision of a foreground combine with fluidity and softness in the background, especially when used in the proportion two third/one third.

Next cloud workshop

Clouds in oils | 1-day workshop | Wednesday 17 June

The Passage - by Marcel Desbiens

“The Passage” By Marcel Desbiens – Oil on Canvas. Tattersalls Art Prize 1996. Currently at Stanthorpe Regional Art Gallery.

Discover and experience great new potentials by choosing the right technique for the integration and development of the sky into your landscape. Learn which medium and which colours to use, as well as different application techniques from alla-prima to layering and glazing.
Experience required: Basic oil painting knowledge and practice.
Full details and book >>

Need help? Contact customer support on (07) 3262 1808 / 0409 641 426 during business hours 9am-5pm Monday to Friday.