The National Art School’s outstanding Painting faculty teaches students in the Bachelor of Fine Art (BFA) and Master of Fine Art (MFA) programs key skills through experimentation and innovation in studio practice, as well as providing a sound understanding of historic traditions and more recent developments within painting. This allows students to explore the boundaries of contemporary visual art and find their own expression as an emerging practicing artist during their time at NAS.

The first year BFA course provides an engaging introduction to the fundamental materials and techniques of painting, as well as visual literacy, colour, tone and composition, forming the basis for the confidence, competence, independence and in-depth conceptual understanding needed to pursue a career in visual art.

NAS offers some of the best-equipped studios and workshops in Australia, a vibrant, welcoming campus, and a dynamic, experienced teaching team dedicated to engaging, supporting and challenging their students. The Painting faculty’s extensive professional insight and practical experience creates a rich, immersive learning environment fostering the individual talents of each student.

The faculty is led by Head of Painting Dr Stephen Little, a successful practicing artist who has taught at art schools in Sydney and London and worked with many major galleries around the world. All Painting lecturers are accomplished professional artists and recognised nationally as specialists in their areas, exhibiting in Australia’s major public and commercial galleries and selected as finalists and winners in national and international art prizes.

NAS is renowned for its studio-based, hands-on model of learning. All Painting students receive intensive face-to-face teaching in small classes and are allocated their own studio from the second year of their BFA. Postgraduate students also have their own studio on campus. As well as thriving under the tuition of experts, Painting students are encouraged to support each other and work together as a creative community to develop their studio practice, share research and inspire experimentation.

In the BFA program, all students take Painting in their first year as part of their studio rotations which also includes ceramics, photomedia, printmaking and sculpture. In second year, students focus fully on a chosen studio area such as Painting, however there are always opportunities for cross-disciplinary work.

Students majoring in Painting will:

  • Study the historical origin, function and principle characteristics of painting media
  • Develop technical competence using painting materials, in particular the craft of paint, surfaces, grounds and supports
  • Explore the genres of still life, portraiture, figure, landscape and narrative painting
  • Develop methods and techniques required to construct archivally sound works through the construction and preparation of paper and canvas supports
  • Conceive, develop and realise work, using individual working methodologies
  • Undertake critical analysis and definition of the formal elements of painting
  • Develop a comprehensive body of work reflecting their individual technical and conceptual interests


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  • Generous, well-ventilated individual studio spaces furnished with easels, boards, tables, paint/material storage trolleys
  • Dedicated solvent cabinet in each studio area for safe disposal of oil-based liquids and paint trap filters on sinks
  • Dedicated department technician
  • Gesso and canvas preparation tables
  • Cutting boards
  • Artwork storage racks for BFA1 and BFA2
  • Individual studios for BFA2, BFA3 and MFA students

NAS has a number of public spaces and opportunities for students to exhibit their works and be involved in professional work experience over the course of their degrees. NAS also supports and maintains connections with its graduates


Painting graduates from NAS have gone on to successful careers in the art sector, including full-time practising and exhibiting artists, academic art educators, art installers and technicians, consultants within the creative industries, private gallery and museum administrators, public commission designers and fabricators.

From the early days of NAS through to contemporary times, Painting alumni have exhibited in Australia’s major public and commercial galleries and are regularly selected as finalists and winners in national and international art prizes. In 2021, the Art Gallery of NSW’s Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes featured 31 NAS alumni and teachers among the 112 finalists, nearly a third in total. Since the Archibald Prize began in 1921, nearly a third of the winners have been NAS alumni or teachers, including Guy Warren who won the prize in 1985 and was painted by winner Peter Wegner in 2021.

Core subject

This outline for Painting Studio Elective 1, a core first year subject at NAS, gives an insight into the foundations of the painting program.

This BFA First Year subject aims to further the creative, intellectual and speculative capacity of each student informed by practical studio experience, and to broadly familiarise students with the body of knowledge that constitutes the painting discipline.

Subject Content
Painting Studio Elective I follows a program of thematically based class projects and exercises that explore the fundamental methodologies of painting practice including:

  • Developing and realising visual ideas through use of painting process
  • Definition of formal elements of painting
  • Observing the genres of still life, figure, landscape and narrative painting
  • Developing methods and techniques required to construct archivally sound works through construction and preparation of paper and canvas supports
  • Study of historical origin, function and principle characteristics of painting media
  • Critical discussion of work produced by students in the class
  • Engagement with professional standards of studio practice including Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) guidelines relevant to the Painting studio

Learning Outcomes
Students who successfully complete this subject will be able to:

  • Demonstrate developing technical competence in the use of painting materials and techniques, including the construction and preparation of various surfaces and grounds
  • Develop and realise visual ideas via employment of the formal elements of painting
  • Demonstrate developing skills in the analysis of the content and structure of paintings
  • Broadly understand the history and conventions of painting practice
  • Work co-operatively, undertaking all tasks in accordance with Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) standards relevant to the Painting studio

Short Courses

In addition to full degree study, NAS offers an extensive range of Short Courses suited to all ages and experience levels. The courses are taught by practicing artists and are run on campus and online throughout the year, covering every artistic discipline from ceramics to sculpture to photomedia. NAS also offers an extensive school holiday program for all primary and high school students. Visit the Short Course pages for more information about what’s coming up.


  • Dr Stephen Little

    Head of Painting

  • Susan Andrews

    Painting Lecturer (Sessional)

  • Dr Andrew Donaldson

    Painting Lecturer

  • Steven Harvey

    Painting Lecturer

  • Dr Elizabeth Pulie

    Painting Lecturer

  • Dr Rolande Souliere

    Painting Lecturer

  • Nick Collerson

    Painting Lecturer (Sessional)

  • Dr Christine Dean

    AHT / Painting Sessional

  • Paul Higgs

    Drawing / Painting Sessional

  • Mason Kimber

    Painting Lecturer (Sessional)

  • Tim Maguire

    Painting Lecturer (Sessional)

  • Rodney Pople

    Painting Lecturer (Sessional)

  • Les Rice

    Painting Lecturer (Sessional)

  • Gemma Smith

    Painting Lecturer (Sessional)

  • Kim Spooner

    Drawing / Painting Sessional

  • Jelena Telecki

    Painting Lecturer (Sessional)

  • Paolo Larossi

    Painting Studio Technician

Dr Stephen Little

Head of Painting

BA Visual Arts (Nepean CAE), Grad Dip Visual Arts, MVA (Sydney), PhD (Lond.)

Dr Stephen Little is an artist and educator and he has taught progressive, creative higher education courses since the early 1990s. Prior to his current role as Head of Painting with Australia’s National Art School he has held lecturing posts at a range of other creative arts institutions. These have included Goldsmiths College in London, Sydney College of the Arts (University of Sydney), the University of Western Sydney (Nepean), the Australian Catholic University and Penrith College of TAFE.

Aside from academic posts Stephen has spent many years working in different capacities with a range of galleries in Australia and overseas. These have included, but are not limited to, the Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney), the Alan Cristea Gallery (London), White Cube (London), and the Lisson Gallery (London) where he held the position of Technical Manager for five years.

The wealth of accrued experience that he now brings to his current post, in conjunction with his arts practice and his professional associations across a range of educational institutions, has provided him with a valuable and varied set of competencies that draw on theory, practice based research, and first hand experience with some of the art industry’s most reputable galleries and international art organisations.

Areas of Specialisation:

Stephen’s studio work draws on a range of different media as a means to extend current discourses on the limits of the ‘paintable’. In his PhD thesis Painting in Transit: Inter-domain transfer and material reformation, he investigated alternative perceptual models, materials, and modes of presentation to those traditionally used in the classification of painting. Stephen locates ‘painting’ today as being no longer wholly definable in relation to its former material tradition, but as existing within a range of material exchanges and perceptual associations that ultimately generate their own variations, relationships and internal logics.

Subjects and Courses Taught: 

PAI100 Painting Introduction 1
PAI120 Painting Studio Elective 1
PAI200 Painting Studio Major 2
STS200 Painting Studio Seminar 2
PAI300 Painting Studio Major 3
PRS300 Professional Studies / Painting Studio Seminar 3
MFA Supervision

Susan Andrews

Painting Lecturer (Sessional)

Susan Andrews is a painter whose geometric artworks explore perceptions of spatial uncertainty through line, plane, structure, colour and shape. Andrews has exhibited her work in commercial galleries, regional galleries and artist run spaces (ARIs). Her work has been exhibited in numerous art prizes including the Grace Cossington Smith Art Award, Jacaranda Drawing Prize, Dobell Prize for Drawing, Blake Prize, Adelaide Perry Drawing Prize and the Sulman Prize. Andrews has undertaken artist residencies in Beijing (2008), Paris (2000, 2006, 2016) and Bundanon Trust (2005).

Dr Andrew Donaldson

Painting Lecturer

Dr Andrew Donaldson’s career spans over two decades with a profound interest in abstraction. From 1990 until 1992 he studied with Prof Klaus Rinke at the Kunstakademie Dusseldorf, Germany. From 1994 to 1995 he studied with Prof Claus Carstensen as a Samstag Scholar at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen. In 2009 he was awarded a PhD in art history by the University of Sydney.

Since his first exhibition in 1988 he has held more than 25 solo exhibitions and participated in more than 60 group exhibitions locally, nationally and internationally. A survey of his work was held at The University Art Museum (UAM), University of Queensland in 2002.

Donaldson’s work is represented in national and international collections including the National Gallery of Australia, the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the National Gallery of Victoria and in other state museums, university art galleries and private collections. Donaldson is currently writing a history of 20th century Australian art with Rex Butler and is a lecturer in the Painting Department at the National Art School.

Steven Harvey

Painting Lecturer

Steven Harvey was born in 1965 in Sydney, Australia. Harvey completed a Bachelor of Art (Education) at the City Art Institute, Sydney in 1986 and completed a Post Graduate Diploma in 1989. In 1994 Harvey graduated with a Masters of Art (Painting) from the University of New South Wales College of Fine Arts.

From 1994 to 1998 Harvey held solo exhibitions at the Coventry Gallery, Sydney including Walking Through (1994), Works from the Riverina (1996), Float (1997) and Summon (1998). Harvey also featured in annual group exhibitions at Coventry Gallery from 1994 to 1999. In 2000 Harvey held a solo exhibition titled Lure at Martin Browne Fine Art, Sydney. Other notable solo exhibitions include: Grace (2002) at Martin Browne Fine Art, Apostle (2003), The Precipice Sessions I (2005) at Niagara Galleries, Melbourne, Night Bird (2004), Australian Limbo (2007), Finn’s Raft (2008), Ark 44: The Night Bird Prophecies (2009), and Neanderthal Scholar (2012) at Liverpool Street Gallery, Sydney.

In 1997, Harvey was awarded an Artist in Residence at Arthur Boyd’s Bundanon Trust Studio in New South Wales. In 1998, Harvey was selected as the inaugural Artist in Residence at the University of New South Wales, Sydney which culminated in a solo exhibition titled Latitude held at the University.

He has participated in a number of key touring and invitational exhibitions, including Painting (2002) at the S.H. Ervin Gallery, The National Trust, Sydney and A Tribute to Western Australia (2003) at the Holmes à Court Gallery, Perth featuring works that explored the Western Australian landscape alongside those by Peter Sharp and Kate Turner.

Steven Harvey is represented in public collections including Artbank, The University of New South Wales, Tamworth Regional Gallery, The Macquarie Group Collection, New England Regional Art Museum, and private collections in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. Steven Harvey lives and works in Sydney.

Dr Elizabeth Pulie

Painting Lecturer

Dr Elizabeth Pulie has been exhibiting her work since 1989. She achieved a PhD from the University of Sydney’s Sydney College of the Arts.

She has presented papers at eight conferences and symposia since 2014, both within Australia and internationally. Elizabeth’s theoretical research, writing and presentations extend the idea of ‘the end of art’ to contemporary art discourse and practice. Her work encompasses material forms such as painting, weaving, political banners, collage and embroidery.

Elizabeth is represented by Sarah Cottier Gallery, Sydney and Neon Parc, Melbourne.

Dr Rolande Souliere

Painting Lecturer

Rolande Souliere’s transdisciplinary art practice explores the social, political, and cultural aspects of Indigeneity in contemporary society and its linkages in western art.  Utilizing repetitive process strategies of wrapping, binding, and layering, Souliere’s artworks incorporate mass produced items such as reflective road signage, automobile headlights and brake lights, variable message boards, construction materials and household items. These universal materials are stripped from their usual contexts, manipulated, and repurposed into dynamic installations.

Souliere’s technique combines abstraction and the assisted readymade with handmade processes to discuss Indigenous narratives.  She views contemporary art, mass production and “craft” process as inseparable from the flows of production and consumption under global capitalism.  Yet importantly also have connections to race, cultural identity, and sovereignty.

In 2021, Souliere is one of the artists commissioned by Artspace, Sydney for “52 Artists 52 Actions” and is also included in the group exhibition “States of Collapse” at Dunlop Art Gallery, Canada.  In 2020, The Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver and Translink BC commissioned her for three large -scaled site specific temporary public art including a double length public transportation bus. Other permanent and temporary public art include Indigenous Womxn Banner Project (2019), Mediating the Treaties (2017-2018) by The City of Winnipeg and Bringing Back Wabakinine (2015) commissioned by City of Toronto, Canada.

Social art is also part of Souliere’s art practice, she has worked with North American and Australian Indigenous peoples on her Collage of Indigenization social art project (2013-2018) as well as on an international street art project, Coyote Responds (2016-2018) in Toronto, Berlin, Vancouver, Winnipeg and Sydney for Or Gallery.

Souliere is a member of Michipicoten First Nation, born in Toronto, Canada and is also an Australian citizen. She has a PhD form Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney.

Nick Collerson

Painting Lecturer (Sessional)

Nick Collerson combines figuration and abstraction in his experimental, improvisational and poetic painting practice. Nick studied for a term at the Royal College of Art in London during his Masters of Fine Art, which he completed in 2013. Painting most days, Nick has a very active studio practice and has exhibited with the Hughes Gallery; he currently exhibits with Liverpool Street Gallery in Sydney. He is a lecturer in the Painting Department at the National Art School and also presents private courses.

Dr Christine Dean

AHT / Painting Sessional

Christine Dean is an artist, teacher and writer who started exhibiting in 1988.

Christine currently teaches Art History and Theory at the National Art School and Design Theory at UTS. In 2010 she completed a PhD titled ‘The Pink Monochrome Project’ at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales. As a writer she has focussed on Australian art of the 1960s and has written essays on David Aspden, Martin Sharp, Vivienne Binns, Peter Upward and Vernon Treweeke. Dean has also pursued an interest in the impact gender theory on contemporary developments in LGBT art.

Her exhibition history includes: ‘Spirit + Place’, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 1996; ‘Juice’, Art Gallery of NSW, 1997; ‘Monochromes’, University of Queensland Art Gallery, 2000; ‘Points of Departure’, Toby Fine Arts, New York, 2007; ’Bent Western’, Blacktown Arts Centre, 2008; ‘Avoiding Myth & Message’, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 2009; ‘Sealed Section’, Artbank, 2014 and ‘From Straight to Gay and back again’ 2015, Alaska Projects, Sydney.

In 2000 she was awarded a Pollock Krasner Fellowship and in 2001 the Australia Council Los Angeles Studio.

Paul Higgs

Drawing / Painting Sessional

Paul Higgs is an eminent artist, working primarily in collage, who has exhibited extensively in Australia since the late 1970s.

Higgs studied painting at the Sutton College of Art and Winchester School of Art in the UK, before moving to Australia in 1977. He has shown extensively in Sydney and regional centres and has works in the collections of The Art Gallery of NSW, Artbank, Wollongong University and numerous regional art galleries and private collections in Australia, the United Kingdom and Norway.

Higgs has been the recipient of many awards including the Campbelltown Art Prize (1997) and the NSW two-year travelling art scholarship which included The Dyson bequest and the Art Gallery of New South Wales Paris residency (1984).

Higgs is based in Austinmer, NSW and teaches at the National Art School, Sydney.

Mason Kimber

Painting Lecturer (Sessional)

Mason is a Sydney-based visual artist who works across painting, sculptural reliefs, collage and installation. His practice explores the interplay between architecture, place and memory.

Selected projects include: MCA Collection: Perspectives on place, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney (2021), Strata, Kronenberg Mais Wright, Sydney (2021), Prologue: Tongue on tongue / nos salives dans ton oreille, Galerie Allen, Paris (2019), Future Relics, Sophie Gannon Gallery, Melbourne (2018), Slanted Mansions, COMA, Sydney (2018), and NEW16, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne (2016).

Mason is currently a PhD candidate at UNSW Art & Design and holds a Master of Fine Art (painting) from the National Art School. He has been a finalist in numerous Australian art prizes including the Sulman Prize, Churchie National Emerging Art Prize, Sunshine Coast Art Prize and NSW Visual Arts Fellowship (Emerging). He has been awarded studio residencies at the British School at Rome, Italy, Parramatta Artists Studios and Artspace, Sydney and is a current artist in residence at Shirlow Street Studios, Sydney. His work is held in the collections of Artbank and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia.

In addition to lecturing at the National Art School, Mason is a tutor in Art Processes & Architecture at the University of Sydney, School of Architecture, and a lecturer at UNSW Art + Design.

Mason is represented by Kronenberg Mais Wright in Sydney and Sophie Gannon Gallery in Melbourne.


Tim Maguire

Painting Lecturer (Sessional)

Tim Maguire is a contemporary Australian artist best known for his cinematic in scale floral paintings and prints.

Tim studied art at East Sydney Technical College, before receiving a scholarship to attend the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in 1985. Tim was awarded the 1993 Moët and Chandon Fellowship. Tim has exhibited extensively in Europe and Australia for more than two decades, including a 2008 major solo show at Ikon Gallery, UK. For many years he has worked collaboratively with the French master printer, Franck Bordas. His work can be found in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra and the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney.

Rodney Pople

Painting Lecturer (Sessional)

Expressionistic painter Rodney Pople completed a diploma in Fine Arts at the University of Tasmania in 1974 and later attended the Slade School of Art in London in 1978 and the New York Studio School in 1979 as a postgraduate. Pople has held solo exhibitions in Sydney, Melbourne, Tasmania and China. His work has been included in group exhibitions at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney and the Australian Centre of Contemporary Art, Melbourne. Pople has taught at several institutions including the University of Tasmania in 1984 and the Victorian College of the Arts in 1990. Pople was artist in residence at the Moira Dyring Studio, Cite Interationales Paris through the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1990. He was awarded the Lake Macquarie Art Prize in 1988, the Fisher’s Ghost Prize in 1994 and a National Art School travel grant in 1999. Pople won the Glover Prize in 2012 with a controversial portrait of Port Arthur and the Paddington Art Prize in 2016. His work is held by the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; the Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane; Artbank, Sydney; several regional and university galleries and internationally by MOMA, New York.

Les Rice

Painting Lecturer (Sessional)

Rumour has it that Marco Polo introduced velvet painting to the West. Artist Leslie Rice was introduced to it seven hundred years later when his father returned to Sydney from a business trip in Tijuana with a velvet painting among his souvenirs. The quintessence of kitsch exotica, velvet painting to this day holds a guilt-ridden attraction. With his suite of virtuosic velvet paintings Rice has reclaimed this guilty pleasure and quickly earned himself a reputation as ’one to watch’. His accolades include inclusion in the Archibald Prize and two times winner of Doug Moran National Portrait Prize.

Rice has spent more than 15 years as an established tattoo artist (from a lineage of tattooists including his father and sister) and finds the transition to velvet to be strangely familiar. Like painting the body with a needle, painting velvet with a brush is exacting and unforgiving. Rice’s subjects side-step the usual preoccupation with sunsets and pin-up girls made popular mid last century in velvet painting’s halcyon days. Instead dramatic, Mannerist tableaux including biblical and mythological references proliferate. These subjects find their source in Rice’s immediate world where friends and families close at hand are transposed into dramatis personae.

Making paintings with their longevity in mind, Rice now secures each work under glass, often choosing to pigment the glass lending the works a holographic quality where the beholder is invited into the picture.

Gemma Smith

Painting Lecturer (Sessional)

Gemma Smith is a visual artist who’s practice explores colour, and approaches to abstraction through the expansive field of painting.

Since 2000, Smith’s work has featured in more than 100 exhibitions. Notable among them are: Know My Name, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2021; Rhythm Sequence, UNSW Galleries, Sydney, 2019; Superposition of three types, Artspace, Sydney, 2017; Painting. More Painting, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, 2016.

Smith’s work is held in museum, corporate and private collections, including those of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane; Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth; Queensland College of Art and Griffith Artworks, Brisbane; Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane; University of Queensland, Brisbane; Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne; Murdoch University, Perth; Deakin University, Melbourne.

Smith has produced several public artworks, including Bourke Street Tangle, 2020; Triple Tangle, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia Foyer Commission, 2018; and Collision and Improvisation (ceiling), 2012, Queen Elizabeth II Courts of Law, Brisbane.

Smith has lived and studied in Sydney, Brisbane and Pittsburgh. Since 2014 Smith has been based in her hometown of Sydney.

Smith has exhibited regularly with Sarah Cottier Gallery since 2006; with Milani Gallery, Brisbane since 2008; and Starkwhite, Auckland, as of 2020.

Kim Spooner

Drawing / Painting Sessional

Kim Spooner’s incisive and expressive portrait and figure paintings are held in public and private collections. She is an award-winning portraitist with portraits in the National Portrait Gallery, and is an inspirational teacher who is skilled at communicating ideas and responding to the individual needs of students and artists. She completed a residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, in 2009. Winner of the 2006 Portia Geach Memorial Award, Kim is represented by Annandale Galleries, Sydney, and Adele Boag Gallery, Adelaide

Jelena Telecki

Painting Lecturer (Sessional)

Jelena graduated with a Master of Visual Arts in Painting from the Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney. She has extensive experience teaching painting at the University of NSW and Sydney College of the Arts. Jelena has exhibited extensively in Australia, England, and Japan. A major new suite of paintings will be exhibited in the 2022 Adelaide Biennial.

Paolo Larossi

Painting Studio Technician

Paolo has worked within many facets of the arts industry; starting in theatre both on and off stage, then in film and the arts department at The Film, Television and Radio School he went on to work on low budget films and commercials, from there he followed his passion for music and pursued work on long running festivals such as BigDayOut, Homebake and Splendor In The Grass. His tasks were varied from photographer, curator, decorator, artist liaison, rider captain and merchandise coordinator. He helped in the setup of festivals as well as working in the production team. He then turned his focus to the visual arts, beginning studying a BFA in Photography at The National Art School, graduating in 2002. Paolo was then employed casually as a technician in Painting, Sculpture, Photography, Art History and Theory and assistant to the gallery manager. During this time he has gathered experience in multiple disciplines, finally establishing himself permanently in the Painting Department at the National Art School when he still works today.

Areas of Specialisation:

Woodwork construction, exhibition install and hanging, framing and organization and management of the Painting studios.

Subjects and Courses Taught:

Frame making and stretching canvas, use and induction of machinery and tools in the campus workshop.

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