Wednesday, 20 June 2018


This week we were translating our lesson on composition and colour balance, see

TEACHING NOTES for the 12th of june, into painting wet in wet from direct observation, we didn't finish these, but because the flowers may be over by next week, here are your photos of the flowers you were painting. The primary object of this lesson was about controlling pigment flow.

In my own sketch, ( this is not a finished painting due to time constraints ) I have used a combination of hard and soft edges, remember hard edge is against dry paper, and soft edge is against wet paper

We looked at paintings of flowers painted wet in wet, and wet on dry ( hard edged ) and gauged our emotional response to them, this will influence our choice of how to represent flowers when we are painting them.
We chose to paint our flowers wet in wet, so that we then had a choice of where, if any to have hard edges, the first wet in wet wash being the underpainting, but the main aim of this lesson was to control pigment flow, please find the reference for your painting and complete at home.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018


This is the painting with 3 or 4 layers of washes applied once the previous wash was completely dry.
For the morning class today, as some us us have missed a few classes, I thought it prudent to re visit pigment flow control, and doing soft edged images is a good subject to practice this, we want some areas of the pigment to flow further ( tail ) than other areas ( face )

We already know that the paper needs to be soaking wet when we put our first clear wash on, to buy us plenty of painting time so that the paper doesn't dry before we have chance to put enough of our pigment done wet in wet, but to control the pigment flow depends on how dry or wet the brush is when applying the pigment, for our first wash for the tail, the brush needed to be slightly less wet than the clear wash brush.
We needed to dry our brush a little more for the body, and more still for the face and claws.


In this class I had hoped to work outside from direct observation but it was too cold, this is the scene I would like us to work towards. 
But before that we were aiming at something simpler...

We were also further exploring pigment flow control in this class, but through composition, we revisited the exercise of focal points through contrast we worked with last week,Then we copied some and invented others in tone then applied that understanding to abstracting a composition of the flowers in the garden, first wet on dry, then wet in wet

Here is a demonstration of the white garden chair composition at various stages of colour thumbnails, showing the visual pulling power of certain elements when they are added, note where your eye is lead to without the pink carnations or the shadow on the seat, similarly with the colour thumbnail of the allium composition, ( flowers ) Here I have taken elements of the garden and invented my own arrangement

Note the difference in the overall balance when I add a piece of white paper to the picture, play around with shapes in tone and colour as a box exercise like the tonal one above, and judge where your eye is drawn to, this should be the foundation of a composition to apply representational painting to, or, keep as an abstract

Fingers crossed it's warm enough next week to work outside : )

Wednesday, 6 June 2018


This week, we were working on controlling the pigment flow with ducklings, goslings and a baby owl, and whilst this is a cutesey twee subject, it is rather difficult to perform, not enough water on the brush and we would have hard edges which we need to avoid for this fluffy soft subject, too much water on the brush and the pigment would run too far too fast and spread beyond the boundaries of the drawing and we would have ended up with very long haired beasties.

We practiced our pigment flow on a separate sheet first, including 3 colour mixing to make variations of brown for the duckling using red yellow and ultramarine blue, we also needed to paint high definition wet in wet for the stripe over the ducklings eye, this needed to be done before the head had dried, otherwise the stripe would come out hard edged, and not look like it was made of furry feathers

We applied our pigment to our fowl by editing our brush marks right down to just a few, holding the brush at a shallow angle so we could get a wide flat even coverage, and only lifting our brushes off the paper towards the top of the wash, so that any excess water ran back into the body, rather than down the pear belwow the body

 We had several practices at this to gain more confidence in flow control before applying pigment to the beaks and feet using all 3 colours, but applying a clear wash 1st and then the pigment to selected areas using our photo reference as a guide, and making sure not to push the paint around too much resulting in a flat looking wash, please pay attention to the highlights on the beak and feet.
I look forwards to seeing you again next week.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018


it was mooted that this last stage the surface water detail was unnessesary, and I agree, as to leave it blank is to suggest a surface mist, however we had a go as it was useful to understand the technique
This week we were completing our value mass trees silhouetted, by adding swans and a suggestion of the surface of the water, so we did a clear wash in stripes, and added the pigment only in the middle, being careful not to allow it to run to the edges, we then put it to one side to dry before painting in the swans. 

We were also completing our painting of the house in the woods, and exploring in particular what elements of a painting pull our attention, it was useful to look at the tonal squares on the chart ( below the photo ref ) and we were all in agreement as to which squares within each box dominated and why, have a look yourself and see what you think, then look again at the house to understand that the isolation of white in this photograph creates a focal point in its self, look also at the isolation of purple and violet, and the way in which this draws your eye to the house.
We are not always presented with perfect compositions in real life, but by doing these exercises it helps us to firstly see them, then to exaggerate and invent aspect that create good compositions.

Below is an example of the same scene drawn in different ways, the left hand drawing is totally about detail, and has ignored the bigger tonal shapes, and is therefore more difficult to read, think about the right hand drawing in relation to the box shape exercise above to understand how to organise tonal and colour shapes in a composition as opposed to only looking at the detail.Image result for lesley munroe artist norwichHere are 2 paintings by an artist some of us know and love, Lesley Munroe from the Shotesham art group, you can see very clearly in her paintings how she has organised her colour shapes, and makes good use of isolating blocks of white and complimentary colours with the occasional small amour of intense paint.Image result for lesley munroe artist norwich

we can see clearly as the painting progresses and we add pigment to each part of the painting, that this changes the overall balance, an isolation of red on the roof may dominate too much
windows and doors that are too dark may create too much of a focal point by virtue of them being an isolated area of detail  in themselves, whereat a tree with no house will attract too much attention, you don't need a degree in art to see where your eye is drawn to, but it helps to know that to bring something forward you must =create goal or colour contrast, or to make something recede do the opposite and place a colour or tone next to it which is very similar, otherwise take colour or tone out.
Ask yourself how much detail you need to add to your painting, there is no right or wrong answer to this, but remember that detail will attract attention, so it's perfectly acceptable to put detail in one area and leave the rest loose, the trees around the house for example could be worked up more, but best left high definition wet in wet in my opinion.
I am hoping to get you to work from direct observation at some stage so if the weather is clement enough next week this may be the time.
I look forwards to seeing you next week, and if you were unable to attend class this week, please try to keep up  from these notes, as each class is sequential and consecutive, and we are building on skills acquired from the previous week.

Friday, 1 June 2018


This months workshop is taking the principles of last months workshop, ( scroll down to May 4th wkshop ) and extending it to encompass background colours to compliment the colours in the painting, and in particular, isolating a colour group for a focal point.

I was inspired by the working methods of this artist, note how she has isolated colours and tonal values to create areas of focal point by means of contrast.

Look at the colour groupings on this colour wheel, notice how everything between the violets and yellow green appear cohesive, similarly everything between pink and yellow, we can use this colour wheel to understand colour groups and apply them to the choices we make when selecting and representing a subject.

We also looked at tonal values, and how to use that to draw your attention to a particular part of the composition, look again at these squares, and see which grab your attention most, and try to anayse why, see ( right ) how to apply tonal values to the same scene to create different focal points and abstract shapes.

My painting ws a quick working out, but you can take this idea, and apply it to anything and develop it.
We began by taking this concept of creating focal points with boxes, and applied the colour to these boxes that we would be using in the final painting, this is a very useful exercise to see whether the final colour balance will be effective, i.e is our eye directed to where we want the viewer to look, can you see the correlation between the abstract and the finished painting? Can you see that the intention was for the pink flowers were meant to be the focal point but we still wanted the white flowers to carry some pulling weight, as well as the isolated green square, the overall intuition was to keep the viewers aye moving around the picture plane, but with a definite focal point of the pink flowers, look again at the artist I was inspired by, and despite all her different colour choices and her tonal balance, she has achieved this in every painting
working your colours out with thumbnail sketches really pays dividends, as planning a painting involves a more lengthy process than we have time for during our washes
Here are some student examples of today's practice

The only male student today, preferred boats as a subject, and took the same idea, and applied these principles to this subject, he extended the lines in the subject to cover the background, went beyond my own colour choices and produced this brilliant piece of work, which shows a high degree of creativity and sophistication, quite astonishing considering he is colour blind!here are some photo ref of the flowers we were painting, plus a wet in wet demonstration I gave to show a different approach to washes with flowers