Chroma of colour

All colours are made up of combinations of different pigments. The resulting colour can be either cold or warm depending upon the exact proportions of each pigment used. When selecting your palette you should  choose one of both cold and warm for each colour .  For example a cool version of red would be Cadmium red deep or Alizerin crimson, whereas a warm version would be Cadmium medium or Flame red.  If you were wanting to make a purple you would choose a cool red plus blue, but if you were making an orange you would opt for the warm red plus a warm yellow. To make a lively green use a cool yellow and blue because if you use a warm yellow you will get an olive green .

Use of a colour wheel can let you see which colours compliment each other .

Caroline painted a series of red squares all identical then changed the background to show how different chroma change how the red square is perceived.



You can see that some of the squares now appear more intense than others. Using the cool blue and the cool yellow makes the red recede , but using the higher chroma colours of the warm yellow and the orange make it really jump out.

Here we can see the effect using greens of different chroma.



In this case the more intense the green the more the red stands out.

In portraits  using a background colour of a less intense chroma than the one you will use for the eye colour is often an effective way of making the eyes stand out.

Rothko was very skilled in his use of chroma for effect. Many artists use the technique to bring their work alive. Using a high chroma in the foreground against a background  of more muted colours always works well.


In the painting below, the tree and the buildings in the background really stand out, as a high chroma was used.




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2018 AGM

We had an excellent attendance for our AGM with over 30 members present.

Various topics were discussed and decisions taken which will be fully covered in the minutes to be issued later.

A Bring and Buy table afforded members a very good selection of books and art supplies at a nominal price. This was followed by tea, cakes and socialising.

Our next group activity will be in December at our lively Christmas Party, which will be held on Thursday 13th of December at the Bridge Club on Third Avenue .


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Some Useful Hints on Framing

Caroline gave a helpful talk on preparing your painting for the annual show.

It’s a good idea to finish off the back of the painting using gum tape and parcel paper to cover up all the fixings and make your painting look more professional


Please note that all pictures ( apart from canvasses) should be finished by using D rings or eye rings and then strung with sturdy nylon string or wire to make sure your painting will hang securely for many years.

It is possible to buy 100 D rings from Amazon for as little as £7 or £8.

Caroline manages to pick up nylon string at boot sales very cheaply and will get some for you if you ask.

Reasonably priced frames can also be found at Asda at Hollingdean.

You could also consider picking up used frames from antique shops or even charity shops. You can easily repair any chips or gouges by using wood filler ( also available at Asda ) and then once it has fully dried sand it down and paint it.

You can use any paint of your choice but chalk paint works very well, and looks great after you have waxed it.


When deciding what frame would best complement your painting, take into account


1 Colour.  Use a colour that appears in your work to bring it out


2 Texture.  Use a texture that enhances the style of your piece


3 Topic.  Use a frame which is in keeping with your theme


4 Size.  You should try out different sizes to see which gives your work most impact – you may want to use mounts which can themselves be in different colours.


As a basic rule plain neutral colours are popular or simply plain black.


Pricing: Cost out your materials, paint,canvas  brushes etc and then take into account how long the work took to complete. Although you should never undervalue your work, you can’t really go mad here otherwise you won’t get any interest in it. The club has set a minimum price of £35, but no maximum. Lastly, if you want to secure a prime spot in the venue, volunteer to be on the hanging committee!

Many thanks to Lesley McBride, who provided the notes and images.

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Painting Flowers 25th July

With Caroline on holiday, and in the absence of Polly, Judy Alexander kindly took the reins, sacrificing her painting time for the session.

Judy Richardson had, by chance, brought in a bunch of flowers from her allotment,  which were arranged as the still life for the afternoon.

Many thanks to Judy A, who helped those painting the subject, as well as any who needed assistance around the room.

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Watercolour Treescape Demo 11th July

Using watercolour, this week Caroline presented a demonstration of a treescape. Firstly, putting a sky wash on she advised using a big brush, to avoid “picky” marks, she looked at the composition, noting the shafts of light and some nice dots of yellow.

When looking at a watercolour landscape, look at the layers: sky, faded trees, land and foreground tree and take note of the lines in the picture.

The pale wash for the sky can be enhanced with faint yellow and a spot of red.

Using a blue/grey wash for the land and leaving gaps for the shafts of light, Caroline mixed Cobalt  with a spot of red .

While the main washes dried, Caroline mixed the blue with a pinch of yellow and started working on the base shape of the distant trees, putting a little shadow at the bottom and used a rigger for the stem and branches.

Starting with a pinch of yellow and a stronger orange, she put in foliage. Going back to the rigger the general shape of the foreground trees went in, leaving a little bit of light.

First a purple wash for behind the trees then for darker trees mix blue + red +green.

Tip: to fade out the edges of the foliage, dab with a tissue as you go.

Using a rigger to bring up the foreground tree trunks, Caroline held the brush far back and dragged it down. She then softened the rigger lines with a bigger brush.

For the greenery, first there was a pale green wash, then for the dark green a mix of viridian and red.

Caroline then redefined the tree trunks that had faded with drying, and the final draft appeared.

As a final note:  the usual rule of working from light to dark with watercolours can be reversed, depending of the composition.



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Introduction to Water-Based Oils 18th June

Caroline began with a description of the various brands and associated thinning agents:

Jacksons Aquaduo are very thick and expensive

Cobra is like System 3 acrylic, that is with less pigment

Lukas thinner is specifically for water based oils.

Cleaner: White Spirit

When using acrylics, it is often necessary to build with up to six layers to achieve the desired effect. However, the water-based oils will cover in just one or two applications. Caroline suggested that we underpaint with acrylic when outlining the image, and especially putting in skies, and then continue with the oils. The benefit of using this technique is that the acrylic draft will dry very quickly, allowing us to take up the oil paint.


Starting with a sketched in image, Caroline mixed the skin tones, as below:

Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red Deep, Titanium White, Manganese Blue

Light Skin Tone:               White, little red, yellow ochre

Medium:                           Less white, little red, yellow ochre

Deep:                                Less white, little red, yellow ochre + ultramarine

Apply the paint and allow to dry before blending. Using a filbert brush, to avoid angular marks, she painted over lightly, blending as she went, using skin tones and applying more than one layer. The oils proved much more workable than acrylics.

Using the darker shades for the cheek , Caroline then put some red into the nostril and made it darker further in. She used the lighter tones after the medium and dark tones are done. Working around the mouth, the coloured shadows were put in. For the eye, an off-white was used with a little re inner and a white rim above the lower eyelashes. A dark piece in the corner of the eye. The green for the iris was made of Viridian and blue. For the eyelashes, black was a mix of olive green +cadmium red deep + ultramarine.

Suggested Water-based oil starter kit:

Titanium White

Yellow Ochre

Cadmium Red Deep

Hookers Green or Olive Green


Cadmium yellow deep

Caroline also suggested that we Google Sean Cheetham Mud Palette, which has some interesting images to peruse.

This was a very encouraging demo for those of us who have resisted using oils, for one reason or another. Not least is the possibility of avoiding the intrusive Linseed Oil smell!


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Acrylic Demonstration 13th June


Caroline started the session by explaining some of the qualities of acrylic paints. Acrylic is different from other mediums as the pigments are mixed with polymer resin and this enables the paint to dry much faster than oils.  On the tubes of paint you may see a number 1 to 4. This indicates the price, 1 being the least expensive and 4 being the most expensive, often due to the cost of pigments used.  “Hue” on the tubes means it is cheaper paint, using synthetic pigment.  If chroma is mentioned this indicates brightness and intensity, grey being low chroma and pillar box red high chroma. For more information search “Munsell color solid and chart” online.

Caroline recommended “Golden” as being good quality and she demonstrated how a cadmium yellow in “Golden” brand covered a dark colour better than a cheaper brand.


Caroline’s subject was a photo of a glamourous, elderly woman which she had roughly sketched in with a dark green so she started by mixing skin tones on her palette from light to dark using mixtures of white, yellow ochre, cadmium red and ultramarine in varying quantities. For example a light shade was a mixture of white and yellow ochre with a touch of cad red to darker colours incorporating ultramarine or even phthalo green.

Using a pro-arte or graduate flat brush she blocked in the colours. Before they dried she wiped her brush dry and feathered the edges to blend the colours into one another. She worked in this way around the eye and along the nose. She picked out reds and mixed purple for the lipstick, telling us that Renoir achieved his bright red lips on women by underpainting white first. A discussion on the effects of painting over a coloured canvas ensured and Caroline demonstrated how the top colour was changed by different colours beneath.  She demonstrated in detail painting in the eye first using an off white for the eye ball before toning it down. Then adding flecks of green to the iris – a bit of artistic license and finishing off with a dark pupil and a spot of white for the reflection. So the eye came dramatically to life.

Caroline finished the demo by showing us the impasto method on the background, whereby the use of thick paint to enhance the brushstrokes gives an interesting alternative to an otherwise empty space.


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Reflections in Spheres Demo 30th May

Reflections Demo  30th May

Today Caroline is using watercolours and working from light to dark. To mask the highlights on the ball, she would normally use masking fluid, but as that takes hours to dry, candle wax is preferred for speed.

A yellow wash was put on the top half of the ball. Caroline stressed that we should ignore detail at this stage, and break down the shapes we see, working in areas. Go for the big shapes first. Note the saucer used for the perfect sphere.

Working wet-on-dry, she began on the darker area, using pink first, then blue around the bottom of the ball

Fill in with impressions of shapes, such as class members, easel, the kitchen door. Remember that with spheres, all lines turn inward.

Use a rigger for detail, such as the rafters in the hall and put in darker lines.


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Rest Areas in Painting & Pets 11th April

Rest Areas:  Caroline explained that in a busy painting, rest areas are needed for the eye to process the picture. Rest areas are often part of the background or could be a road or a lane in a landscape.

Pets If painting from a photo it is essential to find a good picture with relevant information. Using a photo, for example of a black Labrador could leave you struggling with the detail.

Also consider the character of the animal. If this is known you can add specific details, such as pet toys to the background. Too often people just paint an animal floating on the surroundings, so do consider the background carefully to match the pet’s character.

Caroline was working from a phot of a tabby cat she had found on the internet. She had worked a good grounding and wanted to show us how she refined the details. She had made up a rug background, but she was not entirely pleased with it and as the cat looked quite young, she was intending to include fishes in the rug design to suggest a sort of playful character.

She started by refining the fur on the cat’s face and used the following colours for shades of brown:

Mix: Black, Cadmium red deep, Ultramarine for very dark fur

Mix: Viridian, Ultramarine, cadmium red deep, Yellow Ochre & white for grey

Mix: Viridian, Cadmium red deep, Cadmium Yellow for warm brown

These colours were often slightly altered through the painting by adding more or less of the above colour palette.

Brushes:  Caroline showed us the brush she often found useful. She had an old flat acrylic brush and had cut into it to leave it with spikes. Thus she could produce scratchy hair-like marks. Other brushes used were small acrylic ones and a rigger for refinement. She proceeded to work on the cat’s face, often using the side of the brush. Painting dark to light and working in layers with paint, neither too thick nor too runny. The fur on the upper leg was painted in with light brown over a dark base she had applied first. The brown colour adjusted by mixing as she went along. The final process today was to use the rigger to define the hairs. Caroline also uses dragging one colour into another and to soften the area she might use a glaze.

The cat’s green eyes were portrayed using the following mix:

Cobalt Turquoise, Viridian, Cadmium Red, Ultramarine and white for the darker colour

Viridian, Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow for a lighter shade.

She worked around the outer part of the iris first, in dark colour. Then she used the lighter green for the middle. Finally, picking out the pupil in black and lastly giving attention to the shadow under the eyelid and highlights in the iris with a dot of white.

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