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Putting Life into Your Painting with Gesture

Instructor: Barbara Wilson
Saturday, May 20 - Monday, May 22 (Victoria Day Long Weekend)
Early Bird: $265 (until April 20)
Regular: $295
25% Non Refundable Deposit: $70

Scholarships and Bursaries are available for all Island Mountain Arts Programs, Link here for details.

Link here for information about accommodations for students

To register call 1-800-442-2787 or online below.

You can also mail a cheque to
Island Mountain Arts, Box 65,
Wells, BC, V0K 2R0

Pay Full Fee or 25% Deposit:
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Putting life into your Painting with Gesture

A workshop for artists who have some basic experience with painting fundamentals and composition, but for whom “loosening up “ or getting beyond tried and true recipes and thinking about painting in a new way.

Instructor Bio

Born in Winnipeg Manitoba in 1939 Barbara Wilson is a western Canadian having lived variously in Vancouver, Calgary, the Cariboo, Mackenzie, the West Kootenays and now Victoria.  She began painting seriously as a teen but combined that lifelong passion with equal interest in science and architecture and dance. Several years living overseas in the Philippines and Taiwan afforded her painting and exhibition experience. She enjoys teaching and the benefits from the insights gained from her students while working together.

Barbara’s gestural style developed over years of painting and drawing in many genres including landscape, buildings and figure.  Pure abstraction has now become her main focus and it is this process of gestural expression moving towards pure abstraction that Barbara brings to IMA this year.

Day One

  • Introductions
  • What is gesture? illustrations
  • Some illustrations through dancing to music – moving then painting gestures on newspaper using Chinese ink and brushes that Barbara will supply
  • Taking turns modelling students make gesture drawings of each others. Use the ink on paper or personal sketchbooks as preferred
  • Barbara will Illustrate striking a contour drawing over top of gestures

LUNCH (Bring with you or restaurants in Wells or Barkerville; there will only be coffee, tea and snacks at the school)

  • Using one of the two still life set ups, make gesture sketches on paper. Use conte or pen or pencil. Life
  • Decide which one to paint. Set up easels and supplies.
  • Using conte draw the gesture spontaneously on the board while looking at the props, use a full gesture motion to fill the space yet to get everything in, continually revising the drawing as required. All marks become part of the energy of the painting. There are no mistakes.
  • Now using paint work over the gesture allowing it to provide many options in the seeming chaos. Draw or pull out the figure” of main composition” , Now finish the painting using the gestural linesin both figure and ground to inspire brush marks. Paint figure and ground at the same time, that is not painting the whole object first then just filling in the background. Limited palette of colours preferred.

SUPPER (BBQ put on by Island Mountain Arts, free for students)

Artist talk about the current exhibition and the philosophy behind what she does now. Barb will also talk about how the Wells Barkerville Cariboo experience imprinted her life as an artist.  

Second Day

  • Warm up quick gestures of each other. Scribble drawings
  • Quick review crit.
  • Further work on still life paintings
  • 11am demo of sketching out of doors using gesture to fit it all in and get a sense of movement. Practice in sketchbooks. Barbara will then demonstrate the setting up of a plein air canvas using gesture. (Probably use sunset theatre as subject or a simplehouse near the school )

LUNCH (Bring with you or restaurants in Wells or Barkerville)

  • Weather permitting, we would start a canvas outside setting it up usinggesture to find the proportions then discoverthe important features of the scene by contour line. Finish painting in the studio.
  • Gather in studio to review works.

SUPPER (on your own)

Evening open house for friends

Third Day 


  • Barbara Wilson demonstrates how she paints her BEYOND REALITY stuff. She will talk out the process of this “action painting”.
  • Let the students have a go


  • Newsprint and Chinese brushes and ink supplied.
  • Acrylic paints, brushes. Water containers, paper towel or rags Bring what you have and generally use.
  • Black white and three colours minimum, not all primary. Also gloss medium. Big tubes of at least three of the colours.  
  • Two or three stretched canvases minimum size 16x20.  Untempered hardware store masonite witha coat of gesso ok too.
  • Folding Chair for outdoor sketching
  • Folding easel
Earlier Event: February 24
Winter Harp in Wells
Later Event: July 8
Lurking in the Belly of Poetry