Northlight Arts Centre: A Knife Painting Art Class

Intrepid Leeds Living writer Blagovesta Tacheva signed up for Heather Burton‘s sellout Painting WIth Knives art class – with surprising results!

Northlight Arts Centre is a not-for-profit arts centre and gallery in Chapel Allerton offering a wide range of art workshops and classes (including life drawing, lino printing and watercolours), hosting exhibitions and organising music events. It is a family-friendly creative space that offers opportunities for artistic expression for individuals of all ages and skill levels. The venue also offers a range of rooms for hire, for meetings, workshops, classes or larger events.

On arrival for my very first art workshop, I was greeted by the lovely Amanda Burton and ordered a cappuccino from the coffee bar – a much needed Saturday morning treat! For all coffee lovers out there, you would be pleased to know that you can enjoy a delicious cup of Dark Woods Coffee at Northlight and some quiet downtime during the day.

Following the success of last year’s Painting with Knives event, professional Artist Heather Burton returned to deliver another workshop at Northlight. The workshop is suitable for all abilities and provides everything you need, from paints to canvasses and easels at no additional charge. You might want to bring an apron or a shirt you wouldn’t mind refreshing with a touch of paint, although Boris Cruse – a seasoned tutor at Northlight – kindly offered aprons to those of us who didn’t have that kind of foresight.

Photograph by Boris Cruse

With all of us equipped for the task at hand, we were off to a good start.

Following a brief introduction from Heather and a demonstration of how to use palette knives – ‘like spreading butter on bread’ – we proceeded to apply the first coat of paint to our canvases. While most opted for a still life painting using some of the objects on display at Northlight, we were free to work from a photo or an object of your choice, as I did.

Heather was fantastic at guiding us through the process of painting with knives from beginning to end. Throughout the workshop, she went around the room offering feedback, encouragement and direction if we got stuck. This meant that everyone could work at their own pace and get support tailored to their own work and level of experience.

Arguably, I had set the bar for my first painting fairly low. However, with Heather’s expert guidance and gentle nudging to go out of the tiny ‘beginner’ box I had put myself in, I rose to the challenge and ended up with a painting that was much more colourful, bold and detailed (and dare I say – better) than I had envisioned.

Photograph by Boris Cruse

With heaps of experience and a passion for teaching and meeting new people from all walks of life, Heather was an excellent tutor who created a positive, nurturing and inclusive environment for all. I particularly enjoyed the social aspects of the workshop and lunchtime conversations with Heather and the rest of the group, as we left our last coat of paint to dry in peace.

At the end of the workshop, we took a moment to step back and admire each other’s work, share our thoughts about each other’s paintings and tips on how to develop them further. It was half a Saturday well spent with a lovely group of people.

Photograph by Boris Cruse

All of this makes the workshop suitable for both experienced and beginner artists who want to try something new. This event would be a great choice for your first foray into the arts. Learning a new technique somewhat evens out the playing field for artists of all abilities. This is not to say you should expect to show up and shine as a natural van Gogh, but there is a good chance you will walk away with a painting you can happily hang on your wall.

Northlight: Paul Berriff Exhibition 2023. Photograph by Northlight.

If I’ve piqued your interest, you can purchase tickets in advance for this or other Northlight workshops here. The next Palette knife painting – with Heather Burton at Northlight Art Centre is on Saturday, 13 April 2024, from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

All photography by Blagovesta Tacheva unless otherwise captioned.

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