Saturday, 7 August 2010

Buffalo - Oil on Linen

Buffalo in Oil - Support: Linen

I am very proud of this painting. Some paintings seem to develop in an effortless swish of brushtrokes. It's a good place to be as an artist. We all need experiences like this from time to time.

I started this painting as part of a class exercise and then could not wait to continue with it at home. I think it was more about me than my students this time. I found it a challenge to begin with as I had used an underpainting of raw umber and naples yellow for placement. I had to work out the correct temperature of my next layer of paint and once this was achieved then the rest flowed with relative ease. Time was taken over those important details and areas around the eyes and nose took their time. Such wonderful problem solving which involved intricate colour and tonal shifts. And of course, the oily smells and tactile qualities of the canvas are always a delight. Africa was brought to my studio for once and I am aiming and hoping to do some more when time allows.

Drawing at St Katherine's Docks

Line Drawing of The Dickens Inn at St Katherine's Docks.....

... and yes, the sign is skew. Some of my students wanted to go up to London to draw at a different location. A great idea. I had been doing a demonstration in Croydon the night before so I had not slept well that night. Too much adrenalin coursing through my veins. I, therefore, decided to focus on a detailed line drawing of the Inn and it kept me busy for a good 3 hours. One literally takes one's sharpened pencil 'for a walk' and it helps one explore every contour and texture change in one's subject. An exciting way to illustrate and it helped my eyes to remain open. Slept like a log that night!

My Summer Workshops - A Day at Chartwell

A Painting and Drawing Day at Chartwell - July 2010

We prayed for good weather and we got GREAT weather. The days on either side had been very dodgy indeed. It was almost too hot but we were so grateful as there were no undercover areas in case of a downpour.

The group dynamic was fabulous and everyone got on with their tasks and they seemed to have learnt a great deal from the day. I did the odd demonstration to pass on drawing and painting ideas. The day did fly by and we took our tired eyes and limbs home at 5pm. One of my students caught me on camera doing my bit - I think the award goes to painter and not the best dressed.

Summer Workshop Exercise

Line Drawing, Watercolour and Tissue Paper Combination.

A great exercise for the draughtsman. We started off with a detailed line drawing of the reference and this took a fair amount of time. Never rush this process - the end results are worth the effort. Once the illustration is complete (some artists like to stop there as the illustration looks really super), then you apply PVA glue to the whole page and stick down your piece of tissue paper. Once dry, light layers of watercolour are added to enhance the drawing. The aim is to leave parts of the drawing exposed otherwise there is no point in going to so much trouble with the drawing. Again, a good exercise in being selective.

Summer Workshop Exercise

Oil Painting Sketch - Old Door along the Camino

We had a very relaxed oil painting day and the results were, once again, absolutely super. We tinted our canvases or canvas boards with a grey acrylic and then did a basic drawing with oil paint and a small round brush. We then put a lot of effort and time into premixing our colours. Even the stones consist of at least 5 different tints and mid tones. Once we had our colours organised on our palettes, we could then concentrate on the brushtrokes and successfully linking one shape with another.

Summer Workshop Exercise

Line and Wash Combinations.

I always enjoy these workshop days. My favourite line and wash combinations consist mainly of detailed line illustrations which are later enhanced by watercolour washes. Most of us overwork these studies because we tend to give both mediums equal importance - one needs to dominate the other. The line or ink drawing should almost reach completion and stand on its own before a light, unfussy wash is applied. The artworks above are examples of what we do in our workshops.

Top Example is watersoluble graphite pencil and a touch of watercolour. Watersoluble graphite is the line and part of it is washed away to create those 'oh so exciting' suggested edges.

Middle and Bottom Examples are dipping pen and peat brown ink. Dipping pen allows one to create uneven lines and the odd spill or blob can be blown to make interesting markings. I prefer peat brown as it is a little more subtle than black. Some artists love to use watersoluble ink which also creates beautiful results but I really cannot stand the sulphuric smell of it so I tend to stick to the non watersoluble brands.

Summer Workshop Exercise

Drawing and Chalk on Tinted Mountboard - Dramatic Statue at the V&A

I absolutely loved this exercise - we spent the morning studying this portrait and the afternoon drawing from a still life. I was so thrilled with the standard of work produced. I loved this reference as it was packed with contrast and interesting angles. I am hoping that if I am inspired then I will inspire my students. I knew this would be a challenge but they all winged it. So chuffed. I tried to emphasize the importance of looking at shapes and if one breaks up an overall area into 'puzzle pieces' then an image appears. It is a more tactile approach and still uses a good degree of measuring and accurate placement. I have moved away from drawing your typical 'egg' to get started and find it more useful to use the shape and angle method instead. If one's egg is off then it throws everything out right from the beginning.

Summer Workshop Exercise

Acrylic and Soft Pastel Combination - Old Church along the Camino

This is the second example of the acrylic and pastel combination described below. We managed to have two goes on this particular workshop day. Always a good idea to check behind one's ears and under one's nose before leaving the studio if you intend to go to a public place. It is a rather messy business but such fun!

Summer Workshop Exercise

Acrylic Ground and Soft Pastels - Irises

This is a recent discovery through a demonstration given to the Tatsfield Art Group this year. I was away and could not teach that night, so the group had a guest instead. I am embarrassed to admit that I cannot remember his name, but the group wanted to have a go when I got back.

Well, what an enjoyable, expressive and colourful combination. One applies a special paste called Acrylic Ground for pastels to normal acrylics and then you apply it to mountboard. This dries with a tooth which enables the soft pastels to adhere to the board. Because you can use any colour combination on the board, one does not need to labour over the pastels at all. The acrylic layer peeps through to transform what could be a predictable pastel illustration.

Demonstration for the Tandridge Art Society

Watercolour and Oil Pastels on Mountboard - Covent Garden

As always, the feeling of support from the Tandridge Art Society is wonderful. Of course, it does mean that I should not disappoint the eager members of the group. This helps to push me to try new combinations and techniques and look at problem solving from different angles.

This demonstration started with the highlights first, which enables one just to look for the lighter shapes. These were captured in white oil pastel (try and get a really good artist quality brand like Sennelier as they are softer and more workable). This is also a great way to train the eye to measure between shapes which is useful for outdoor work.

Once the whites were in place (and there needn't be too many), then I blocked in the watercolour washes on top. The oil pastel acts as a resist and the watercolour clings to the slightly raised edges of the pastels which results in subtle, exciting texture. The final stages bring in the darker tones and allow the picture to come together.

Demonstration for the Croydon Art Society

Mixed Media on Mountboard - Venice

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the Croydon Art Society for the first time this summer. I did recognise a few faces in the crowd which always makes me feel very welcome (especially if they are smiley faces). Once again, the adrenalin was surging and between the demonstration and the fierce overhead light, I managed to put my combination together.

This is a wonderful way to loosen up and focus on the shapes that make up an image. Shapes are created by one edge meeting another and these edges are either hard, medium or soft. There is plenty to think about when one is wielding a brush, or stick of charcoal. Always choose a reference or view with endless amounts of contrast.

I love this combination:- I start by applying a few washes of watercolour to the surface of the mountboard and then covered the surface (when dry) with a 30% tint of charcoal. The main highlighted areas are then wiped away using blu tack or an eraser. The stronger darks are then added using charcoal and highlights are applied using white chalk or pastel. If the picture needs it then one can add sanquine and/or blues and purples for extra drama.