Tag: acrylic

Part 3, Project looking at faces, Creating mood and atomosphere

mood uni
All the burdens of life


Ok I don’t look quite as horrific as this but I had the choice of likeness or mood. I chose mood. This to be fair is very abstract and was done at speed the whole painting took just over an hour and is by no means accurate or brilliantly painted. However I got to this point and thought I would stop as it conveyed exactly what I wanted and I was worried I would loose the mental chaos and tiredness I was trying to show. I experimented with some backgrounds before I started and sketches but at the last minute decided to go all Guy Denning on myself.

So I coated the paper with my usual neutral beige and then placed sand on the background because I wanted to dry brush the darker tones into it. Where drawing the figure I rubbed away the sand leaving it smoother. I had after looking at painting the figure in colour decided to use a limited palette, I like the way Guy Denning displays mood with his very dark portraits and thought I would try and do similar.

There is a slight colour to the figure in the hair and the fleece, although I feel if I was to take this further I would put more colour within the picture. Not a huge amount but just a hint of colour and think more about the placement of my brush. This I feel is a starting point and needs a lot of work but I was spontaneous in my work and just went for it. Another first for me was the use of sandpaper. I didnt like the left side just above the shoulder so decided to have a go at sandpapering the area and it looked so much better. I will use this again in the future. I used mirror and photos for this portrait as it was too difficult to hold the pose and paint.


Colours used for this painting were Titanium White, Ivory Black, Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna, Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue.




Below a few examples of work leading up to painting




Part 3, Portrait and Figure, Head andshoulder portrait

george p


For this I was to decide exactly how my sitter will appear in terms of scale, position , background and light source etc.  Unfortunately due death of a close relative and time restraints I couldnt marry my time with a sitter so for this exercise had to resort to a picture. There was one I wanted to try however it was black and white the person meant a lot to me and was full of character, unfortuneately he died years ago. His skin colour was interesting being darker than average and the coat I remember to be fawn. I used a second photograph to help with George’s skin tone and set about sketching him several times, in coloured pencil, charcoal and graphite. Then I tried out a couple of backgrounds for my painting. In the time I had to do the exercise I would say the attempt is fair, but the paint application was not as I wanted. I would of liked a smoother transition rather than the painting by numbers effect. I have difficulty in doing this unless I work a small area at a time with acrylic and I just didnt have the time to do this on this occasion. Acrylic does have its benefits though in that it quick drying time means it is easier to store in my small cottage and doesnt smell. Misting with a spray may help so I am going to try one.

George was stood sideways in this picture and it could have been an interesting representation, however I didnt quiet get the right shoulder low enough and fluff it.

One thing I have learnt is painting a portrait is about looking, you have to know your subject well and the above painting is a mere sketch I would need to spend more time with my subject in order to correct the faults.

I began the painting with a line sketch in Acrylic and then progressed by painting the face then the shoulders. As I moved onto the coat I used a larger brush and just made a suggestion of detail, trying to blend the lower coat into the background, but feel that it should have been lighter in order to blend better. Larger looser brushstokes are something I like to do in the all but the most prominent areas of the painting, making the eye concentrate on areas I want the viewer to see, but move around the picture taking in the background. I love the brushwork of John Singer Sargent especially in this picture of  Rosina Ferrara.

Rosina Ferrara by John Singer Sargent


The movement and accuracy of this painting  with using what look like minimal brushstrokes is amazing. The creases in the dress make my coat look very  overworked.

I have been interested in putting in practice a mix of realism and impressionism since drawing one,  which was inspired by a small book from Falmouth Art Gallery called Effortless brushstrokes. I am still fighting the more impressionistic style but feel I am beginning to get there.

Having mentioned the coat I feel that was the best part of the painting and although it looked like a dirty version of Columbo’s Mac, it did work quite well. I am thinking of getting some water soluble oil paint to see if these are easier to use, but will have to wait until I can afford it.



Wikipedia. 2018. John Singer Sargent. [ONLINE] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Singer_Sargent. [Accessed 8 May 2018].

Part3 Portrait and figure Tonal Figure Study

tonal figure for oca


For this exercise I was to concentrate on conveying form by exploring tonal values. I was to set up my models pose with a light source casting clear shadows and highlights. It was thought a restricted palette would be a good idea.

I chose 4  Ivory black, Titanium White, Burnt and Raw Sienna.

Above is a sample of sketches I combined them for the Linear and Tonal study in between sittings my model had her hair cut so some sketches have long others short hair. This painting sketch was done quite quickly and not perfect but I am getting short on time and am worried about finishing the course. One of the most irritating points is there should be further dark paint above the knee however the exercise was about exploring tonal values not being deadly accurate. I enjoy doing limited tonal sketches and have a great fondness for the sketches drawn by the old Masters one of my favourites is Rubens copy of Leonardo’s Battle of Anghiari. It looks such a tangle of horses the contours and proximity of the animals look as if they have been calved out of stone.

I must say not all the sketches were successful as can be seen by the child like sketch above. I went wrong and continued to do so though the sketch, I have found my accuracy of my life drawing is far more accurate if I do a line drawing first. Ok I am not on the same page as Rubens my form is not as robust but the tone is accurate enough to show shape and light.

One thing I liked was I gave texture to the jeans by dry brushing over the top of previous paintwork.  Watercolour paper was first covered in Neutral Grey this gave a good mid tone to work from, the figure was then painted in quickly and then worked with a slower brush in order to smoothly marry the paint tones together. The last application was the texture on the jeans which as mention I thought went well. The background was achieved by some very quick brushwork, again ending with dry brushwork in order to give form and interest.

In the past I have always carefully painted every brushstroke to get a good likeness of my subject, but I am finding minimal brushwork can achieve such texture, movement and likeness I think the minimal background pushes forward the subject giving the painting interest. My style is beginning to come through when I paint and I like doing the mix of two styles in the one painting.

Again this painting was quiet small so in the future I will try to make my work larger. I was also off centre, so need to position my figure better when starting the painting and I also forgot to sketch the painting in paint or watercolour pencil and used Graphite pencil by mistake.







Part 2, Close to home, Exercise Still life with complementary colours


For this exercise I had to make a colour study  using only a narrow range of colours. I had to choose just 2 hues, one colour and its complimentary, and white to lighten the tone. I decided to try and keep the painting more monochrome. Simple I thought, I like graphite and work monochrome drawings so thought it would be easy. How wrong was I, to begin with I ran a tonal swatch in my sketchbook to see the various shades and then decided on my area of use. I had drawn several large quick positional sketches at the start of the two exercises so felt I didnt need to do any further studies before starting this picture.

colour test

I decided as with the previous painting there isnt enough time to blend as well as I felt should be done it  would of taken a lot more hours to get the transitions better. Parts of the painting to me were a little painting by numbers. I find Acrylic is hard to work when blending and needs to be done in a small area. This allows a  blend before the drying process. I didn’t try anything other than a straight forward painting either, as I wanted to concentrate on getting the shading correct.

I chose Violet, Cadmium Yellow, and Titanium White, because of time pressures there wasn’t enough hours to accurately look at the tonal differences and I am pretty sure to do the exercise properly it will take far greater time than we have on the course, so I will have to go back and really look at the shade, tone and light.

I think with the palette so limited, the darks and lights were without the depth, the picture lacks the punch it would have gained with darker darks. However I actually like this picture better than the first. It subtleness gives it a charm all of its own and I may have totally fallen for the limited pallet. There was a lot to be learned from this exercise so I am glad I chose it. Not only can you get multiple shades and tones using just two colours, the exercise mentally enforced the range you could get from using such a limited palette. I really enjoyed doing this painting and the knowledge I gained from it. Most certainly I would like to go on and try something similar with other colours.









Part 2. Project Still Life, Exercise Still life with natural objects.

fruit picture 2



For this exercise, I had to assemble a group of natural objects. Which could be either highly coloured or structured. I was to use my sketchbook to help locate an interesting point of view.

The colours used were Titanium White, Paynes Grey, Cadmium Red, Light Blue Permanent, Yellow Light Hansa, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Cadmium Yellow.

I wanted to try something different and had to fight my instinct to paint in my usual way. I wasn’t sure which way to go and tried a few sketches to get my subject and the position. After a few compositions, my choice was the Oranges and Lemons on the Mantle. Limited palette is my thing and I love the hints of colour within a picture, so tried two colour attempts. One acrylic with ink tint I don’t think I had the skill and I need to practice. This led to a monotone painting and then colour tint but I couldn’t get the image I wanted, so changed my idea and decided to go with a more summer feel and attempt some texture and light. I also wanted to have a go at using bold brushstrokes. I usually use fine brushwork but wanted a go at a more fluid less detailed stroke, well half my brain did.  The end picture wasn’t great but it was better than I expected, details were added but I wasn’t too precious about applying the paint and tried a credit card to give me a rough texture along with an old rough tea towel. I can’t say I went all Monet but for me I relaxed my style and felt I had achieved a likeness that wasn’t too tight in application. I do need to try and stay neater in my brushwork, often in paintings seen by the masters of art each brushstroke looks like a mark made with precision, mine feel more like a toddler’s first attempt at paint.

First I prepared the background with a rough application of paint and then drew the picture with a paintbrush. I used some dry brushwork and thick paint, dabbing it on with brush and cloth to start my background, this was allowed to dry. The fruit then had an application of Titanium White because I wanted to try and push the brightness of the fruit forward and draw the eye to their form. I love Turners late work and his use of colour and light and was trying to capture the way the light fell on the fruit which was lit from the side and front this giving a concentration of light stronger in the centre of the picture.

Photograph of setup


From the photograph of the Mantle it can be seen my background had a large pinch of artistic licence. The wall was too dowdy, fruit remind me of bright summer days. so I added a touch of blue and brightened with white to try and give that light we all love in the summer. I also cut the size of the Mantle and painted wall below.

Texture was added again on top of the first two layers of paint to the wall top and bottom of the picture and then a credit card used to scrape Titanium White, Light Blue, Raw and Burnt Sienna. I felt whilst this may not be to the standard of those proficient in using acrylic it was acceptable for the exercise. The Mantle and fruit were painted with more care but still they were a lot looser than I would normally paint and a bigger brush used for all but the tiniest detail.


I realise with learning to use paint I have a very long way to go. Do I feel this differs from my first attempt at Still Life, yes I do it was much more experimental in application and I am getting used to using the paint. In the future I would like to have a go at mixed media but need to have control of the acrylic paint. Also I would like to try the limited pallet again in future so will have a practice.


Still Life and Illustration are my thing so I enjoyed this exercise.

Part 2, Project Still Life Drawing in Paint

final image 07092017

Final Painted Sketch

Above two pictures of stages of the painting.


Work towards the final painting.


Photograph of actual area painted.


For this exercise I was to look around my house for an arrangement of objects that just happens to be there I could adjust it if needed but choose objects that are not too complex. I had to study the objects and look at the hard lines and angles. Notice flowing lines of fabric, shiny areas, wood grain etc.  Make drawings that explore the linear aspects then chose a support format and scale.

I did several sketches and decided to go with the painting above because of the lines, squares and rectangles.  I didn’t want to concentrate on colour but on shape so I decided to keep the bulk of the painting in pastel and use the lamp and cat as contrast. In that respect, I think the painting worked, however I know what I am looking at so that may be in part due to my knowledge with regards to the brief. I didn’t do the background as I wanted, it had less texture than I had wanted, but the texture  brought the background too far forward, so I learnt the benefit of my rag not only put texture into the paint but also removed paint I didn’t want.  I tried to rescue it a little and scratched lines into the paint to reveal the underpainting.

The painting was to be drawn in fine paint and lines retained until the infill of colour when the lines could if wanted be strengthened.

I started the painting with a pale blue and light pink brown wash. Then proceeded to draw with a blue grey line. I did eventually alter the colour of some lines and the width, but the original drawn paintwork can be seen throughout the painting.  The geometric shapes reminded me of the recent Still Life research I had just done where Matisse did an abstract version of De Heems original painting called The Dessert. I found this inspired me to look at the geometric shapes within this still life. I liked being able to see the original painted lines for some reason they did add to the picture. Although this painting wasn’t abstracted like the cubist work, it did bring to mind the work by George Braque’s work with his lines and shapes.

All in all the background gave the impression of foliage but was on the verge of being overworked. Where the curtains are probably my favourite point and with just a few lines and no real blending worked well, I was surprised at how with just a few brushstrokes the fold could look so impressive. In future I will try and not overwork areas and look at how less brushstrokes can achieve more.


Painting 1, Assignment 1

still life part 1 uni


photo uni still life
Photo of set up for still life

For this assignment, it was recommended I was to keep it simple and do either a still life, landscape or interior. My painting was to be representational and proceeded by preliminary drawings looking at line, colour and tone.

I chose to do a still life; I love the work of Javier Mulio and after a few drawing of fruit and pots decided to do a painting in a similar fashion.

After the initial sketches, I decided to go with a form of Chiaroscuro, my attempt wasn’t that brilliant but it did show light and dark.

Acrylic is a totally new medium for me so I am learning how to apply it at the same time as producing the painting. It is not as unforgiving as watercolour, but to get the polished finish I was wanting it took many layers as it doesn’t go on smoothly. Well at least I don’t find it easy, my control of the medium is poor and I feel the finish bitty. I have found it easier to use in a looser fashion when practicing so maybe I will adapt to using both types of application within the picture adding a little texture.

I ran through various options and then decided on the above setting, and as mentioned wasn’t sure whether to go for light or dark background but felt a dark ground would give more atmosphere.

To get the lighting correct I chose a darkened corner and put a black paged photo album as a backdrop. It was then lit from the side. I had initially been looking at red wine, but decided on white in order I could bring a thread of a different colour through the picture.

The watercolour paper was first covered in a dark ground made from a mix of Paynes Grey and Raw Umber at the top and then Raw Umber and Alizarin Crimson below. I put two different shades to begin with as it would be easier to produce shadow if the base was already near to the under colour. I then used a pale ochre watercolour pencil to draw in the picture. I found this much easier than using Charcoal, it gave a better outline and it overpainted without any problem. As the picture was to be a smooth rendition it was painted in many layers rather than using a spatula. Still I found it very difficult to get the affect even with the use of an extender medium and diluting with water. I have never used oil paints but from observation they do seem to be more suited for this delicate method of painting as they look to go on smoother. However, the drying time is difficult for me as I have very little space to store the paintings, so Acrylics fast drying time is better.

All in all, although in the realms of things this was a quick painting, I was pleased with the outcome, yes the skill level wasn’t great which can be seen by the bitty application, but I did manage to produce a picture which resembled the actual set up. Also, the Chiaroscuro affect was helped by doing the tonal sketch on dark paper and gave a style I would like to look at further at a later stage.


Colours used were, Paynes Grey, Raw Umber, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue, Titanium White, Cadmium Yellow, Yellow Light Hansa and Alizarin Crimson Hue.