Tag: painting

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].

Assignment 2




For this Assignment I had to demonstrate my understanding of colour, tone, composition and development of my technique in my chosen medium.

I was to set up a still life or develop an earlier sketch I had made. I was to work on A3 or above.

I wanted to paint a picture that said something, had meaning, and after researching paintings for Part 2, Research 4, I was enchanted by Johannes Vermeer The Love Letter, and the lovely family scene of David Wilkie. The hidden and not so hidden meanings within some paintings intrigue me and I would love to research this further and plan to get some books on the interpretation of paintings.

Limited time to do exercises doesn’t allow a complexed painting, but rather than work on a previous sketch I decided to paint something that had some meaning. It took a while to sort a composition and I really would have liked to add my walking boots, but felt it made the painting to disjointed. In the end, I went with a simplified version. This hopefully shows the viewer that my bag is packed, well almost and I am ready for a spot of Plein Air Painting and Sketching.

To start with I made several pencil and paint sketches of my subject playing around with the set up. I love paintings with limited colour, but wanted to add a splash to the picture, I don’t think it would have said I am going painting without some.  I placed some items with a touch of colour running through the painting andwas pleased in the end with the set up.  I had wanted to paint the picture as a slightly long square, but it would not have been A3 so I played with some lines on a painted sketch in my sketchbook and proceeded on the A3.

colour sketchesunivarious sketchesuni

Sample of Sketches


To begin with I roughly painted the watercolour paper with Gesso then sketched out the scene then strengthened the lines by painting them in and giving the picture a first wash of colour.




I decided to work the walls and top in a more abstract manner trying to make the impression of detail rather than the detail itself, not as flat as Giorgio Morandi but suggestive. I love his little pots which remain his focus and I wanted the same for my composition.  I wanted the eye to be able to read the painting and the items to take centre court. For the walls I added some texture with sand mixed in Acrylic paint, this had to be added with a palette knife. I liked this as it gave a rustic look making the painting have interest in a seemingly uninteresting negative space. The light also alters as you walk around the painting giving a different shade to areas of sand and paint. The sand was added on the third layer of painting then painted over again before complete. A small amount of blue, red and yellow were added to the back and foreground to bring the colour through the picture for unification. I feel it was very subtle and I could have got away with more than I used.

I like the artwork of a contemporary artists called Lindsey Kustusch her work sits between precision and abstract which I am interested in trying to do. I also like the texture practiced by Constable and many others which I feel adds another dimension to a picture. Overall, I’m pleased with my painting and feels it shows progression, placement of tone gives depth to my subject and I think the negative space is balanced. At last my use of acrylic has improved and I feel I am beginning to find a style that I am comfortable with, but still lack an artistic flow to my work. I would like a way to marry my precision with impressionistic part of the painting in a manner that flows from one to the other. I hope this is something that will develop as I continue my journey through the course. There is still the problem of a smooth tonal transition of paint, it has improved using a dry brush to blend adjoining colours, which are worked together whilst wet. Acrylic drys fast so this means working small areas at a time work best.

Altogether I feel there is a lot of room for improvement as mentioned above this was almost a eureka moment with the use of Acrylic paint and hopefully with beginning to use the paint better I will now be able to experiment a little more with my application.


bag uni
Photograph of Set Up


Colours used were:

Ivory Black, Titanium White, Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red, Light Blue Permanent, Ultramarine Blue, Raw Umber,


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, Colour Relationship Exercise Colour Accuracy

hallow ad 2

Not the best painting I have done, nor the best photograph, it has lost some of the blue tint to the painting, and the white looks cream. I had to photograph it under lights and it altered its colour, but good enough to see the exercise. For this exercise, I wasn’t to take too much notice of accurate portrayal, but the accuracy of the colour I see. I had to evaluate the tonal values of all the objects, not get too bogged down with detail, I was then to assess it against the actual object and its colour and see how close to the actual subjects I am. Ok this took me ages, I am only just getting used to the magic of acrylic, you paint one colour and it changes to something darker.


The colours I worked with were Cadmium Yellow, Hansa Yellow, Titanium White, Ivory Black, Light Magenta, Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Red, Burnt and Raw Sienna.

Its fair to say I tried hard to match the colours to the original and took my time, often I would find that my colour dried darker than wanted and had to re-do the work. I felt tone and shadow worked well.

To start I decided that I would do a Halloween picture as it was contemporary. Having recently studied Chiaroscuro paintings a Halloween Still Life would be a good way to follow on from my studies of artists such as Caravaggio and Ribera. I set up my Still Life in various ways but decided to go with the lights out and the subjects light by two different lamps, one gave a red light the other blue. This gave great colour cast on my plastic skull and equally plastic spiders and other objects. As the subject of this study was the colour I didn’t try out the colours before I did the painting, I only did positional and tonal sketching.

Unfortunately, the picture above as previously mentioned, doesn’t accurate show the colour I finally achieved but in the most part I could not 100% colour match. The white was a pain it just didn’t have the glow you can see in the photograph, although the actual painting was brighter than shown above. I unfortunately went with a solid dark background to start with and I feel it may have possibly influenced the white, no matter how many layers were applied. In future, I will have to experiment and see if I can get a better likeness from white with other under painted colours as I did with the earlier fruit picture, which I under painted with white. The next thing I had problems with was trying to get the coppered leaves to look metallic with just colour. I felt I was halfway there and pretty much got the look I wanted but again I will need to experiment more with getting that real copper glow. My colour transitions were not smooth within the painting and maybe gentle blending would have helped and more time spent on the details. The yellows were a good likeness but I had various yellows to work with, the background not totally accurate but I had difficulty matching the shadow colours. I learnt from this painting matching colours accurately comes with not just having the correct colour paints, but knowing just how much of each colour to mix together, what affect the underpainting of the picture has and the influence of the juxtapose colours. It makes me feel how little time I have left to learn my craft and wish I could shed some years.


Part 2, Project Still Life, Exercise Still Life with flowers

uni flower 06102017


For this exercise, I was to set up a still life with flowers that can remain in place for a day or two, keeping the arrangement simple. Notice the outlines around and between things – the negative shapes – and try to create interesting and varied spaces and intervals between the objects in my arrangement. I sat with the arrangement around eye level. I didn’t concentrate on foreshortening, keeping the flowers relatively the same size, instead I used the vases to create the depth. Poor light in the area meant I had to add lighting and manipulated the beams in order not to put too heavy shadow within the painting. The flowers were large but delicate blooms so I didn’t want to make the shadow the focal point. To begin I set up the arrangement and found one of my £3 blooms of less than a day had a bruised stem and I had to cut it. This led to me having one bloom much shorter than was expected so I had to make do and mend as they say. For once the first arrangement was exactly how I wanted, how did that happen, it usually takes me several attempts! I made one larger coloured pencil sketch to test colour and then a series of small sketches to make sure the arrangement was as I wanted.  I didn’t like the background that I had to set my arrangement on and decided some artistic licence may be best. Eventually after several watercolour sketches I decided to go with pastel green for the wall and blue for the shelf.




I wanted the painting to be simple so as not to dominate the three blooms. These were big bold delicate flowers and there was nothing wild about them they were bred for their beauty and dominance and I wanted to show this within the painting.

I have for a long time loved watercolour painting of flowers, my interest began when I first bought The Frampton Flora a documentation of Botanical paintings found in the attic of Frampton Court. Since I have been in awe of several contemporary artists, to name a few, Anna Mason, Billy Showell, Dianne Sutherland, Ann Swan, and Siriol Sherlock. With the start of this course I now realise the talent of many earlier artists who worked with botanical art like Maria Sibylla Merian a Botanical Illustrator, Naturalist.

botanical plate

This work of hers was produced using black chalk, bodycolour and watercolour it shows the details and delicate work she was capable of. (Unknown, 2017)


I decided to use watercolour as a medium, for me it shows translucent nature of flowers better than any other medium. The blooms I feel were done relatively well and I liked the flow of the paint and the colour. What I don’t like are the vases I feel the lack of stem on the nearest flower and the size of the heads made the picture a little top heavy, if it hadn’t been for the shadow it would have looked very top heavy and I am not sure why I didn’t notice this before I started the painting. I think instead of drawing the vases at a slight angle, I should have gone with the larger drawing I made foreshortening the vases and flowers as they taper off to the rear.  The background which I thought would be the most difficult, turned out better than I thought and doesn’t take the eye away from the subject.

Colours used were from Winsor & Newton Payne’s Grey, Opera Rose, French Ultramarine, Alizarin Crimson, Winsor Blue (Green), Cerulean Blue, Winsor Violet, Hookers and Olive Green. The outline of the picture was drawn in pencil and erased as I went along. The paint applied in thin glazes. To produce the detail on the petals I either remove areas of colour glaze with a damp brush before the paint dried, or added with a dry brush.


If I was to paint the picture again I would make sure my blooms were not damaged giving a longer stem and perhaps use a little artistic licence and enlarge the vases a little also using a little foreshortening to balance up the whole picture.


Below is a photograph taken of the arrangement.




Unknown, 2017. Botanical Art and Artists. [Online]
Available at: http://www.botanicalartandartists.com/about-maria-sibylla-merian.html
[Accessed 7 October 2017].


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.