Colleges join forces for oil painting masterclass

Midlands portrait artist Fran Currie visited Telford College to deliver an oil painting masterclass.

Art students from both Telford College and Wrekin College got chance to take part in the four-hour session at the Haybridge campus.

Fran, a member of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, showed students how to produce portraits from photographic references.

The event was funded by Arts Society Wrekin, to give students a rare opportunity to learn from an active freelance artist.

Fran, whose work includes creating the official portrait of the Bishop of Worcester, said: “It was a great experience. The students are all very talented and all worked incredibly hard.

“They were all given the same tools and techniques to make a portrait, based on the ‘old masters’, a traditional painting method.

“It was interesting to see how each unique voice of the student came out in the work. The work was incredibly impressive – the paintings are going to make a wonderful exhibition.”

Students learned the skills required to paint to scale and proportion, working with shapes and experimenting with ways of bringing in colour and detail.

Anna Dowdall, lecturer in creative studies at Telford College, said: “Fran was great with the students, and explained the techniques and methods in a way that really allowed the students to engage. The work produced shows real promise.”

Students will now be given time to complete their portraits ahead of an exhibition at an Arts Society Wrekin event next month.

The society has worked closely with Telford College over many years, supporting creative students with live briefs, competitions and cash prizes, and helping them to exhibit their work in Birmingham.

Fran’s visit was a rare opportunity for co-working between Telford College and Wrekin College, and Anna Dowdall added: “We hope that, from this successful event, further co-working will develop.”


Bethany Paget, an A level art student at Wrekin College, said: “It was a really interactive and new experience. Everyone is doing something different, and we all have varied styles.”

Abi Morris, another Wrekin College student, explained: “I’d never been in a class with a professional artist before, and this is the first time I’ve used oil paints too.”

Ryan Warnakulasuriya, a Telford College art and design student, added: “I enjoyed the new experience. It was a real change of pace to focus on one piece for four hours, and meet students from another college. I’ve learned some new techniques.”

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