The Agile Arts Atelier of Northern Virginia is a place where a small number of privately taught students learn classical and contemporary realist painting methods. To visit the studio, see Tricia's art and learn more about the cumulative curriculum she teaches, please call the studio at the number above directly for an appointment.

This site is designed to for students and art lovers to find inspiration and useful learning resources that Tricia has collected over the years. (additional blog posts available below).


Agile Arts Atelier - Supply List for Drawing and Painting Lessons

Materials / Supply list for Agile Arts Atelier

Contact the teaching artist with questions: Tricia Cherrington Ratliff

Basic Drawing Materials

  • Grey Paper 
  • #2, #4, #6 and #8 Charcoal Pencil (Generals brand is very good) 
  • 3 White Generals Charcoal Pencils
  • Soft VineCharcoal  (get at least one large one the size of your finger and some smaller ones ) 
  • 1 small hand held pencil sharpener
  • Stumps (A stump / trillion the size of your thumb is ideal but smaller ones work too) 
  • 2 Kneaded erasers
  • Painter's tape (You can get blue painter's tape at home depot) 
  • Chamois (this is a soft leather/suede chamois, not the synthetic one you use to clean a car) 
  • Full set of graphite pencils ranging in hardness from at least 4H or harder to 4B. For example, a typical drawing pack might include 8b, 6b, 4b, 2b, hb, f, h, 2h, 4h, 6h. 
  • Hand Wipes / Baby wipes for cleaning hands (optional)
  • Ruler or any straight edge
  • Knitting needle or metal BBQ skewer
  • Sketch book (for your own use)
  • At least 4 large sheets of grey toned paper (Canson's Mi-Teintes works well)  (charcoal, drawing or pastel paper in either bound or loose form) 
  • Drawing board (optional at this time but will be required later)

Advanced Drawing Materials (buy later)

Burnt Sienna Watercolor Paint in tube
High Quality Sable watercolor brush
Mi Tienes Cream colored paper
Denatured Alcohol
Amber Shellac
Read preparing paper for red chalk 
Drawing board

Oil Painting Materials 

Painting lessons begin with colors marked (LP) for “Limited Palette” below. Students eventually progress to “Full Palette” of all colors below which may include the optional colors. When purchasing paints avoid anything titled ”Hue” or student paints such as “Winton”. 

  • At least 5 smooth texture primed canvases in various sizes: 8x10, 11x14, 16x20 and 18x24 
  • Grey gesso: Some of your canvas will need to be toned in advance with thin wash of gamblin #5 grey acrylic gesso
  • High quality bristle filbert and flat brushes sizes  #4, #8, #12 #16 (silverbrush grand prix are great) 
  • 3 small round brushes in sizes 1 and 2 (These are for detail work. So, beginners can bring 2-3 round synthetic brushes. Advanced painters should bring High quality Red sable or mongoose filbert brushes in small size)
  • Glass palette with case and cover (Masterson brand rectangle) 
  • Walnut oil
  • Palette cup with lid (small glass jars with lids will work)
  • Thick rolls of soft paper towels (Soft blue shop towels or “Viva” brand works well)
  • Gamsol (optional but quite useful) (turpenoid is ok, no turpentine allowed) 
  • Glass scraping/cleaning razor (available at hardware stores)
  • Brush cleaning soap or product 

Transparent Red Oxide (LP) or burnt sienna
Raw Umber (LP)
Alizarin Crimson 
Quinocridone Magenta
Cadmium red bright/light or Vermillion (LP)
Cadmium orange
Peralean red 
Naples yellow (optional)
Indian Yellow  
Yellow Ochre 
Azo Yellow (LP) or Cadmium lemon 

Viridian green (optional)
Cadmium green light (optional)
Cinnibar Green light (optional but useful)
Thalo Green (optional)
Thalo Blue 
Cobalt Blue  (optional)
Ultramarine Blue (LP)
Dioxazine Purple or Violet (optional) 
Manganese Purple (optional)
Burnt Umber (optional)
Fastematte Ivory Black (LP) 

Cremnants white (Zinc, Flake or Lead)
Titanium white
Fastmatte Titanium White (LP)

NOTE: If you have studied with other teachers, there should be natural overlap between this list and those of other teachers ( Danni Dawson , Dan Thompson , Steven Early , Sherrie McGraw , David Cheifetz , Rob Liberace , Kurt Schwarz , Tony Ryder , Rick Weaver,  Angel Academy , Florence Academy of Art , Zoll Studio , Schuler School of fine art , schools or ateliers , David Leffel , Grand Central Academy , Art League , Art Students League , and many other schools or artists listed on the Art Renewal Center list of ateliers and art academies )


"Wholesome" series of oil paintings by Tricia Ratliff

Over the past couple of years I enjoyed painting about freedom and the cycle of life - and feathers were featured in those paintings. But over the late fall and winter I've also been enjoying painting my "Wholesome" series. It is a group of paintings that started with bread  ( Panera ) as a subject.

Bread and Wine 12x12 oil on panel

The bread feels complete - representing both daily life and larger spiritual meaning. It also calls up feelings of abundance, simplicity, health and happiness. A classic hand made loaf can even remind us of family and time spent at home.

Wholesome - 18x24 oil on canvas

These paintings are a good example of how a series typically evolves for me. Often the process isn't a straight road but more like an enjoyable walk in the woods without a path. This journey started long before the paintings. A couple of years ago, I was enjoying painting bread in one of my bread and wine paintings. I was thinking about  the symbolism of bread and that it would make a wonderful primary subject. But at the time I didn't do anything with it. I just thought about it for awhile and studied bread in museum paintings and as a secondary object in my own paintings.

Bread Milk and Eggs - 8x10 oil on canvas

It took awhile for the right compositional ideas to start emerging but after awhile I started to enjoy even the most subtle shifts in similar compositions.  When I painted the one above I was studying with David  Cheifetz whose work I like because he's good at pushing back anything that isn't the subject.

As I was working, I even painted the same composition using different techniques, in different sizes to get slightly different effects. When seen in person, this 8x10 below is actually quite different than the larger one above.

Simple Life - 8x10 oil on canvas

Here's another example of a painting composition that I used for a softly painted study (top) as well as a classical realist version of the painting (bottom). I painted these both as the same time but the top one was painted wet in wet while I was waiting for layers in the bottom one to dry. The jug in the painting on the bottom is accurate to real life while I felt free to experiment and modified the one on the top to create a more triangular composition. I also sorted the edges of the pot to create a glow. They look similar but to me these are completely different paintings in so many ways. 

Health and Happiness - oil on canvas

Bread and Wine 18x24 oil on canvas

After awhile, I would be working on other paintings and see new things that I wanted to pair with bread. Or, in this case the "wholesome" theme influenced a related painting without any bread in it. But you can see the similar color family and treatment of the objects as I'm pulling on a certain feeling.

 Crisp linen for quilting. 18x24 oil on canvas
detail of crisp linen

The thing about a series is that one thing becomes an intense focus for awhile and then the artist may shift (a little at a time) until we end up in a new place. Here in the painting below you can see that the tea kettle is grabbing more attention than the bread.

The "Wholesome" series will continue to evolve and I can't say where it will end or if it will tangent into something completely different. For example, I've been wanting to paint bread and wine again but I have a couple more ideas to explore before bringing that juicy strong alizarin crimson (red) back into the compositions.

Soft and Warm 12x12 oil on canvas  

What's next? Well, I'm inspired by a suggestion from my biggest fan (Mom) to paint one of bread with butter and jelly. I can already picture the juicy color of the jam and the soft tone of the butter.