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Continuing Education at PAFA

Materials and Techniques of Oil Painting (In-Person)

with Anthony Ciambella


Mondays, 12:30 – 3:30 p.m. 

Discover how great oil paintings are made in this fascinating examination of artists’ materials from the pre-Renaissance to the present day! Explore and sample traditional underpainting techniques, glazing and scumbling layering methods, and wet-into-wet alla prima painting in this combination seminar and hands-on class. Learn about artists’ palettes, the development of colors and mediums, and the mass production of art materials, as well as display, storage, and health issues. Includes behind-the-scenes visits to the PAFA painting vaults and works on paper archives. Open to artists and art appreciators alike. 

Learning Objectives: 

  • Dispel the misinformed, bad advice you might have collected over the years. 
  • To familiarize you with the best of traditional and newer materials, and to demonstrate their use in a manner that will assist you in achieving your artistic vision as directly as possible within a range of techniques that are permanent. 
  • Investigate the compatibility and consequences of the materials you are using. 
  • Gain knowledge of the painting craft to know your options, to be able to delineate your ideas with the least possible interference from the medium, and to have your creations last as long as possible with a minimum of change. 
  • Know terms related to art and making art. 
  • Know the difference between cave, tomb, fresco, tempera, encaustic, oil, acrylic, and resin painting. 
  • Identify what toxic materials are used by artists, how artists are exposed, risk factors, effects on our bodies, and safety measures. 
  • The difference, advantages, and disadvantages of stretcher bars and strainers, linen & cotton, natural wood and engineered wood products, metals, parchment, paper, Mylar, hide glue, PVA, polymer emulsions, gesso, oil and acrylic grounds, tempera, oil paint and brushes, mediums, varnishes, framing skills and storage strategies. 
  • Relate information about paintings in the Philadelphia Museum of Art and PAFA Museum, including what can be determined from X-ray, inferred, and ultraviolet photography. 

Optional: This course is available for 1.0 undergraduate credit for $575. Select credit option when registering.

Please note:  All students enrolling in on-campus courses must submit proof of full COVID-19 vaccination and at least one additional booster upon registration. Registrations lacking vaccine documentation or approved medical exemption one week after submission are subject to withdrawal. Requests for medical or religious exemptions must be approved by PAFA’s head of security. Withdrawals for noncompliance will result in fees. See CE Policy Guide for complete COVID safety requirements and policies. 

Image: Stanley K. Whitney, [Painting], 1974, Oil on linen over canvas board, 11 1/2 x 13 1/2 in. Courtesy of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Anonymous gift, 2013.32.2 

Register by: January 27 

Materials List 

CE Policy Guide Winter/Spring 2023 


  • Session 1: Feb 6 - Apr 10th, 2023
    Mon for 10 weeks from 12:30 - 3:30 pm

    Will run

Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building

(215) 972-7600

128 North Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102 Get directions

Room: 1021

Location map for Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building

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