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Meet the Pro: Richmond School of Painting

Dedicated mainly to the art of painting with a special focus on oils, The Richmond School of Painting caters to beginners. Founder Guy Shoham, provides a relaxed environment where students feel they can take risks in their art without criticism but also encourages them to stretch themselves in unexpected and challenging ways.

After graduating with a distinction from the M.A. programme at Chelsea College of Art , Guy was then awarded a scholarship to attend the ‘Drawing Year’ at the Royal School of Drawing. When he is not teaching, Guy paints in his Brixton Studio.

How did you discover your passion?

It’s hard to pinpoint when exactly my passion was sparked but it was probably around the age of 11. In Israel we have a holiday called Purim where we dress up in costume and I dressed up as a painter. I had a big palette in my hand and a white smock covered in paint. But the palette started to get too heavy so I left it at home so in the end I looked a bit like a serial killer actually. Anyway it was quite early on that I knew I would like to be an artist.

Where did you learn more?

I was lucky enough to have art classes at my middle school, where we learnt art and history of art for two days a week so that’s where I developed my interest.

Did you have a good teacher?

I’ve had amazing teachers throughout my years of learning. I’ve managed to keep in touch with my first teacher, who was great, she taught me History of Art and Sculpture.

How did you know this was what you wanted to do with your life?

I don’t know when exactly I decided that this was what I wanted to do. As a young person sometimes you don’t always realise what the consequences of your decisions are until some time after.

After my military service I went to an art academy for four years, after that I attended realistic painting school for another two years and at that time I started to call myself an artist. After I did my MA in London at the Chelsea College of Art I kind of realised that ‘I’m a painter’ and that’s what I do and how I describe myself.

How important is teaching to you?

A student once asked me if I felt like the time I spent with them was taking up too much of my time as an artist, a distraction from my own practice. My answer was 100% no! I really enjoy teaching, and it’s important to share knowledge and ideas, it forces me to think about things differently. I find my studio work quite isolating, so I enjoy meeting new people and I learn a lot from my students.

What’s the simplest thing someone can learn here?

I’ve developed a step by step programme that introduces my students to painting where they actually start with drawing, going into line, tone, shading and marking. Then they can move onto painting in monochrome, slowly adding colours. I developed the programme to allow people to move steadily through the process as I think the journey is often more important than what happens on the canvas. So even if you’re painting has turned out the way you imagined, you’ve learnt something important by going through the process.

What can they move onto?

You can develop you skill into composition and telling a story through an object, teaching people the thought process behind a painting, that everything needs to be planned, the background, the foreground, how it relates to the edge of the canvas. That said, chaos is part of the process of creating art, mess is fun! I went with my student to a Frank Auerbach exhibition and you could see that his drawing process was such that he ripped the paper – sometimes you have deconstruct something to create something new.

Do you have any advice for anyone who might be interested in giving this a go?

A lot of beginners come to me saying they have been told that they can’t paint or draw and it’s sad that they’ve ever been told something like that. These people always end up producing wonderful things. I think many students just need to find the right teacher who can accommodate their needs and this is something I try to achieve for them, so that they can produce their best results.

If you’re interested in taking a painting class with Guy check out his courses at the Richmond School of Painting here!