Course objective

In this online course, you will join a group of artists interested in looking at trying out different gestural & expressive painting techniques capturing the energy, emotion and atmosphere similar to that which is found in music and poetry.

Topics covered include - how to find your own inspiration and subject matter; testing collage methods with a painterly approach; looking at examples of historical and also contemporary artworks and thinking about your own influences and reference points.

This course will encourage group discussion around how to view your own work objectively and take control of making creative decisions that progress your work.

Featured painting - ‘Sunken Dream’ 120x120cms oil on canvas.
Exhibited RHA Annual 2023

Course outline

This online course will take place over 4 weeks with an online group session each week. Each week a new topic will be introduced which you will have the opportunity to research in your own time based on the materials provided. 

Weekly online live sessions with Melissa will take place every Tuesday from 1pm - 2.30pm and provide an opportunity for the group to come together to share their findings and to explore the topic in more detail. The first online group session will take place on 7th November, with course introduction and onboarding taking place the week prior.

Spaces on this course will be limited and the course fee is €190.

Week 1

We look at how to identify inspiring references, how to plan works that will be used as the basis for the rest of the course.

Week 2

Beginning a painting work, how to get stuck in quickly and bravely. Looking at gesture, brush work and colour influence.

Week 3

Looking at a collage approach where we test combining different painting techniques including realistic, blending, impasto, blotting.

Week 4

Synthesis and reflection - going through each person's paintings, doing a final review, artist questions taken.

Course fee €190

About Melissa O'Donnell

Melissa is an artist based in Ireland. Her work is held in both private and public collections. Working in the realm of contemporary painting and drawing, she is represented by Solomon Fine Art, Dublin and also at auction with Sotheby's. Shortlisted for John Moore’s Painting Prize, UK 2020. Previously she was awarded a RHA summer residency 2019 at Notre Dame Global University, Galway and during Covid was a guest panel speaker and has exhibited at Mermaid Arts Centre, IRL and exhibited at the Ashford Gallery, RHA Dublin in 2022/23.

Frequently asked questions

  • What will I get by signing up to this course?

    By signing up to this course you will join a group of students and follow a structured course hosted on Big Look.

    Each week, a new topic, area of research or painting challenge will be added to the online platform which you can follow at your own pace and submit work through assignments.

    Each week there will also be a live group session where you can get feedback from the mentor and ask any questions you may have.

  • Who is this course suitable for?

    This course is suited to all artists with an existing contemporary painting practice, who are looking to develop and progress both their artistic practice and art career. This course is ideally suited to artists who have some experience in painting along with ambition and curiosity and are open to exploring new directions for their work.

  • Do I need to join the live sessions each week to follow this course?

    While there will be some content that you can access weekly through the platform, to get the most out of this course, participation in as many of the live sessions as possible is strongly advised, as this will be where the themes of the course are discussed and explored in depth.

  • Will there be a chat group?

    Yes! you will have the option to join a private social channel exclusive to this group where members can share work, inspiration and tips and ask each other questions at any time.

    You can install an app on your smartphone for this group to ensure that you never miss an update.

  • Will I lose access to content when the course is finished?

    We will extend access to the online materials after the course is completed for some time. However, it will no longer be possible to interact with Melissa after the course is finished.

  • What technology or apps do I need to follow this course?

    You don’t need to install any app to follow this course. All content and tools are on the Big Look website which you can access using your favourite web browser (e.g. Chrome or Safari). Live sessions run inside the website also, so there is no need to install or use Zoom.

    To get most value out of this class you should use a PC or Mac laptop or desktop computer or an iPad rather than a phone – as larger screens are better for this type of content. Please ensure that your device speakers and mic work so that you can both hear the content and also ask questions on the live Wednesday sessions. You should also ensure you have a fast and stable internet connection.

  • What happens if I have a technical issue?

    Students who sign up to the course, will have the opportunity to join a test session to ensure that everything works in advance.

    There are also help resources available to students to answer the most common issues and questions. In addition, there is the facility to log a support request and get assistance from Big Look at any point.