Thursday 24 March 2016

London Street Scene demo

I often demonstrate at Art Societies and usually complete two paintings during a 2 hour demo, however, I get so carried away with the painting process that I never remember to take photos, but on this occasion Terry used my iPad and remembered to take a few as I was painting.

This first photo gives you an idea of the initial stages in the painting process, I have applied masking fluid onto the dry paper on the brightest areas, once this is dry, I then begin by flooding in wet into wet washes over the entire page, this gets rid of all the white paper.

I would never paint watercolour upright like this at home, I would paint either completely flat or on a slight slope, but I often paint upright when demonstrating so that an audience can watch the process. It means I have to work quickly, control the paint and fight against gravity! It certainly keeps me on my toes!

Once this first stage is dry I then begin overlaying my next blocks of wet into wet colour, allowing the colours to meet and merge as I go along.

This gives you a better idea of how its all looking at this stage. I avoid any details, its just a question of placing the distant dark areas and leaving all the light ones, (which is the first wash I already applied).
There is a natural place to start from in the distance so when I add the right side of the street,  this will appear darker and closer.

The right side of the street goes in next which also includes parked cars. I really like the way light falls on cars on a street.... I know, how strange, but the clutter of a street scene is such a challenge and the finished result would not look half as nice if the cars were not there.
I love these figures crossing the street, they give the painting a real feeling of movement.

This is my painting before the masking is removed and the final tonal adjustments made. Its quite a lot to get through in an hour, especially as I let the audience know what colours I am using and why I choose to do what I do, as I go along.
I do however use a hair dryer, this speeds things up a bit of course.

The darks then go in, then  just prior to the coffee break the masking is removed  and voila! this is the finished result.  I can now relax, enjoy a chat with the audience and answer any questions before beginning my second painting in part two.

One of my favourite colours is 'shadow' this is the colour I use to create all those lovely darks. Its a gorgeous aubergine sort of colour - really sumptuous.
If you want less of an aubergine colour and warmer then 'burnt shadow' is also fab, it flocculates and creates some lovely textural interest.

I have used Bockingford 140lb watercolour paper (brilliant if you intend to use masking fluid, because it rubs off really easily)

If you look in my gallery you will see this painting in a cropped version, I decided to concentrate on the lower section for more impact and painted it on a canvas.

Friday 18 March 2016

Painting figures using watercolour

Keeping things simple when it comes to painting, seems to be one of the hardest things for many people. Its easier to try and put everything into a painting, especially if the reference is a photo, than to remove things, how much should we remove? How do we know exactly what to remove?
It can be a really good idea to make a hatched drawing, moving the pencil quickly in one direction, pressing harder for a darker tone and applying less pressure for a lighter tone.

At the art academy in Belgium, we made hundreds of these type of drawings using plasters as our reference. I would go into college in the evening and sit in front of various classical busts, using just line to portray tone. It was a great way to learn how to look, establish tone and suggest light.Such a classical training has been a wonderful advantage to my paintings.

These type of drawings can then lend themselves to simple watercolour studies. Using a very limited palette, I look at the tonal blocks and quickly, I place the colour onto the dry paper using my Classic brush, well loaded with paint. I invite some colours to merge into others leaving tiny little dry sections which act as barriers, trapping the paint on either side and suggesting light. Its all done in one stage, in one go. Yes, I know it seems scary, but its really fun.

 This next technique is much more controlled, its slower, but just as wet. Indeed, the wetter it is, the better, giving me more time to think. 

This is painted as one shape. I know your probably thinking its more than one shape, but actually all the little blocks of colour are linked, they all touch.
I begin with the girls head working down the body and arms, then the legs and whilst its all still wet I attach the pram. Its really important that the shape remains wet, otherwise it looks as if the pram is not attached to the girl. I add the shadow last, hoping that some of the shoes and the pram wheels are still a little damp so that the colour seeps a little into the shadow.

When you are learning to paint, you can be taught various techniques, but learning to look is the most important skill you can aquire. The subjects we choose to paint are also important, you really have to want to paint them, they have to inspire you.

Friday 11 March 2016

Fun with oil pastels PART 2

Project – Teatime
If you practiced the techniques in my last post, this will be really easy for you to achieve and lots of fun. I love this little picture, its just 6x 6 inches, don't make yours too big!

What you will need
A 2B pencil or similar
180gms smooth drawing paper or sketch paper (thicker if you have it)
A scraping out tool such as an embossing tool, cocktail stick, or metal paper clip.
(The embossing tools are super, there are three in the pack and they each have a different size metal ball on the end, so you have 6 sizes in the set. These are useful for all sorts of things and are very good value)

The following colours (or similar)
Light Blue
Yellow Ochre
Bright Purple
Light Pink
Dark Blue

Draw a square 6” x 6”
Copy the lines into your square using a pencil. It doesn't have to be exactly the same, you can draw anything similar. Don’t worry if your drawing isn’t too good, we are going to cover most of it up with the pastels.

Its always a good idea to begin with the lightest brightest colours, because we can always go over the top of them with our dark ones, but often the lighter colours don’t look as fresh when put on top of the dark ones. (remember this, its a good tip)

Using Fuchsia, boldly colour in the entire top background, don’t worry if it looks a bit streaky because we are going to cover all of this up so that when we scrape (using the scfarritto technique) the top colour off, this Fuchsia is the colour that we will then see.
Colour the pot in using Light Blue.
Using Yellow Ochre, colour the cloth area and the cup and saucer.
We are going to blend White with the Yellow Ochre on the cup and saucer to make a creamy colour, so you don’t need to be too neat with this. If some of the background paper shows, that’s fine.
Little bits of pastel may be left on the top of your drawing, these can either be blended in, or wiped off with your finger.
You can use any colour combinations you choose, please don't feel you have to stick to my ideas.

Use the White pastel to blend with the Yellow Ochre to lighten the cup and saucer. You will still be able to see the pencil lines under the pastel so don’t worry about going over the edges.
Cover the entire pot with Light Purple.
Isn't this easy? Honestly, if you enjoy using sumptuous colour then this is such fun!

Blend Purple into the Light Purple on the pot. This results in a deeper more intense creamy finish. You can use one pastel onto another to blend or you can smudge it a little with your fingers. A little of the lighter colour will show through, this is fine. I love these colour combinations, but remember, you can choose what you like.

This is when you can go crazy with your colours.
Using Bright Pink, block in some stripes on top of the Yellow Ochre cloth. Use the pastel in an up and down direction so that any texture is in the direction of the stripes. Any little bits on top can be gently brushed away or blended in.

Tip – using the scraper tool you can draw on the stripes to plan where you want to put them before using the Bright Pink. If the lines are not where you want them, you can always cover them up and start again.
 Cover the Fuchsia with Dark Blue, leaving no spaces. Make sure you create a neat edge against the teapot and cloth.

Then using the same Dark Blue, cover the square behind the cup and saucer.
This will appear different as it is covering Yellow Ochre and Bright Pink whereas the top section it covers Fuchsia.

Tip - Applying one colour over another can sometimes be surprising, and may not always be as you expect, so always try a little section out first on a spare sheet of paper.

Adding all of the scraffito work is the fun part, scrape away any patterns, stripes, lettering, flowers anything you like.
Bear in mind that the scraffito technique always works better when used on a dark surface.
Add spots onto the cup and saucer using Light Purple, and then on top of those spots scrape out the tiny flowers to match the pot.

I hope you have enjoyed using Oil Pastels. If you would like to try some other project ideas in the future I plan to add more soon.
Have fun!

Friday 4 March 2016

Fun with oil pastels PART 1

I know that lurking in the back of cupboards are all manner of art materials, received as gifts, perhaps never used, oil pastels could be one of those things you have lurking and this is  a really nice little project for you to try, or indeed adapt it to something similar. Believe me, you will have fun on some wet afternoon getting creative!

Oil pastels are a wonderful medium to work with and the colours are quite magical, the ones I am going to use are  are opaque; oil based and have a creamy, slightly greasy feel to them. There are various brands on the market, which range from quite hard (similar in texture to a wax crayon) to very soft and almost buttery in texture. Even pastels within the same box may ‘feel different’ this is quite normal so it is always good to experiment with them before you begin a picture.

Within the same box, the softer, more buttery pastels will sit on top of the slightly harder ones, but NOT the hard on top of the soft, so it is really important to get to know your pastels otherwise you may think that they ‘aren’t working’ properly!

Tip- If you are using Oil Pastels for the first time, open your box so you see all of the colours, once I have used a pastel I place it so it rests on the edge of the box, this way I always know which colours I have used in the picture I am working on.

Lets practice all of the techniques one by one but instead of just trying them out on a piece of paper lets put them together to make a poppy picture.

What you need to get started
180gms smooth drawing paper or sketch paper
A scraping out tool such as a cocktail stick, or metal paper clip.

These are the colours I intend to use, you can use any similar

Creating a texture using the paper surface

A light texture can be created by gently shading the pastel onto the paper; this leaves small sections of paper untouched thus creating a natural texture. The rougher the paper used, the more gritty the texture will be. By pressing a little more firmly, a fuller richer texture is developed.

Using  a Light Orange lightly shade a base colour. Notice how the direction in which you shade with the pastel will give you lines, so make sure you use the pastel in the direction in which you want those lines to go. For our poppy we want the shading lines to go towards the centre of the flower so avoid using the pastel from side to side, but instead move it in and out towards the middle of the flower.
Tip - Try not to outline all round the outside of a shape first, as this will leave you with a line you may not want later.

Press a little more firmly and all of the tiny sections of paper will disappear and a thick creamy section remains.
Add a darker colour to change the colour in some sections.

Letting one colour overlap the other and merging the colours together will result in the two colours blending. Varying the pressure will affect the way the pigments blend as well as using different colour combinations.
Insert Fig 3

Blend the Scarlet into the other colours by rubbing the pastel firmly into the one already on the paper.
Add Yellow into the centre of the flower.

Overlaying colour

Pastels with a soft consistency successfully sit on top of a base colour although slightly harder or perhaps lighter colours may result in less opacity, this means that the colour underneath can sometimes show through.
Tip - You may like to experiment with the colours in your box to find out which are the softest ones that will sit on top of the others, this is easy to do, you just colour in a small section and if the pastel feels creamy and almost sticky it is a soft one and if it feels firmer and harder it is a harder one.

Using the edge of a Green pastel, place lines on top of the Lemon Yellow centre, and then add Black on the lower, outer edge.
As long as you don’t blend these colours together, the lines you put on top of the Lemon Yellow will remain intact.

This is the technique of scratching out or removing a top layer of pastel to reveal the surface or previously laid colour underneath.
Using a tool such as an embossing tool cocktail stick, unfolded paper clip, blunt craft knife or plastic card to gently scrape off colour can enable us to add incredible details and textures to drawings. This is such an exciting way to use oil pastels which can totally transform a drawing.

Using an embossing or scraping tool. (I use an embosser) Scratch away the detail lines as shown. Begin in the centre of the flower then quickly flick the line towards the outer edge, this will give direction to your petals.

You may choose to make some smaller lines from the outer edge flicking in towards the centre.
Finally add small Black dots into the centre to finish the flower.

Mark making
Creating details or marks can be achieved by using either an edge of the pastel or using the end of the pastel stick to create oblique marks.

Using  a bright green, make some bold marks and squiggles onto the white background, then add dark green to create marks in between. Continuing to add marks, dots and squiggles and build up the background making it more interesting. 

Of course you can mix and match these techniques, for example, you could change your mind about the green background and use Black (or another colour) to cover the entire green section then add details using the scraffitio technique again.

Added black

Once you have done this you may think it would be nice to add some background texture, we can do this by using the scraping tool to scratch more texture into the background again. The colour previously put onto the paper will show through, so you will end up with bright green squiggles and darker dark green squiggles.
You could use a larger scraping out tool to create bigger lines.
If you didn’t like it, you could always add more pastel on top of this, so you have nothing to loose.

Added scraffito 
One of the wonderful things about Oil Pastels is that they are so forgiving, you can alter things, move things and work on a drawing till you are happy with it.

Next week I'll show you the step by step stages to create the tea pot pictured above. Have a go at these techniques in the meantime.
Have fun!