Painting in the style of Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh was born in 1853, and had a tormented life with a lot of anxiety. It is possible that he may have been a manic depressive. He only started painting aged 27 and tragically died aged only 37.  However during those 10 years he produced roughly 2,100 pieces of work. His early work was very dark and his younger brother who ran an art gallery in Paris advised him to  change to a brighter palette. He therefore evolved from the Potato Eaters to  his much better known works like the Cafe at Arles or his famous Sunflowers. His favourite colour was yellow followed closely by cobalt blue, which together make for a striking painting. He had a unique style of painting which was driven by emotion.

He used various brush techniques including contour painting and pointillism. His famous Irises were painted much more flatly using the silhouette method of outlining the subject first.

Caroline started her painting of sunflowers by a background of a pale blue colour onto which she painted the outline of the sunflower in a light brown.

Then she mixed up 3 shades of brown and using small expressive strokes she quickly filled in the centre of the flower. Next, she went over this with a darker shade of brown for depth. Van Gogh would have done layer after layer using very thick oil paint straight from the tube. After this, she filled in the petals with a dark yellow colour using swift expressive strokes.

Using a filbert she went over the background with a strong blue and then mixes of white and blue and green and blue making sweeping strokes to create movement.

Then she went in with a paler yellow on top of the petals , leaving some of the original colour showing through. She used wiggly lines to add movement and liveliness to the painting. Lastly she put in the leaves using viridian green and white. She mixed  very dark brown using cobalt blue red and green for the very darkest areas in the centre of the flower.  This is the finished work.

 

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Tonal values in portraiture by Caroline Marsden – 4th Sept 2019

To get a good 3D image you need to use strong shadows to bring out the features. A focal point of a drawing or painting is always where the greatest contrast in tonal values is placed, i.e. the darkest dark and the lightest light of the range you are using. You don’t need to use pure white and pure black but should limit your range to somewhere in between these extremes.

 

This lady was chosen by the group as the most interesting to do.

Caroline started with a 4B pencil to do the rough outline very lightly. She always starts by drawing the nose and then works outwards from the nose carefully noting the position  of the other features . She next drew in the lips measuring (either by eye or using a ruler if needed) the space between the nose and the lips. Next she drew in the glasses and finally onto the face shape. She noted that the space between the chin and the nose was equal to the space between the top of the glasses and the top of the forehead. The last thing she did was draw in the eyes . She used hatching to create light areas of shadow.

This first stage done she moved on to put in much deeper shadows using a 7B pencil. This pencil is very effective for defining the darker areas. The only problem is that the softer the pencil the more likely it is to go blunt quickly and it will require regular sharpening as you sketch.

By squinting at the photo she could easily see where the darker lines and shadows were and she uses a really dark background to push the face forward. The greatest contrast in tonal values is seen in the eyes

 

 

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Acrylic and Collage

Collage was first used as early as 1910 and Picasso did some collages.

Collage is a great way to add new dimensions to your paintings. The list of things you can use in collage is almost infinite, but here are some suggestions :-

Natural things like – shells, stones, pieces of broken glass, seeds , lentils, rice, dried beans or dried grasses –

just be careful not to use anything which might go mouldy.

Household things like – keys. zippers, jewellery, coins, washers, screws, bolts etc.

You can also use newspaper, wallpaper, gift wrap, sheet music and  cut-outs from magazines. Note that it can be difficult to paint on top of any shiny magazine clippings.

You can either start your painting by using a lovely piece which inspires you and then incorporate this into your painting, or you can use the collage to enhance a painting or give an interesting background to it.

Caroline started with a striking photograph of a young african woman, then she selected cut-outs from magazines to add a lively dimension to her painting. The finished painting can be mostly collage or 50/50 or any proportion you feel works best. Once you have your theme it is best to choose items to use as collage which are related to it. Caroline recommends using wood glue to stick on your items as this is very strong and nothing will fall off when the painting is hung.

This was her photograph

She mixed up some thinned paint, diluted with some glaze medium ( this is a good chance to use up your cheap paints as they are low in pigment) and applied this  on top of the collage so that the pattern showed through. She then continued to build up layers. How much paint you apply and how much collage you leave visible is entirely a personal choice. If you find that you have overdone the painting and not left enough collage you can always stick on some more.

Depending on the finish you are looking for you can paint over the finished artwork with glaze and varnish over the entire thing until it all takes on a solid look, or you may prefer to leave it textured.

Caroline said she would have added a little more collage but she didn’t have it to hand. She used scumbling to do the hair, which was very effective.

 

Here are some examples of collage and acrylic

 

The one above used small rolls of paper to great effect.

 

While this seaside scene is made up of different shells with sandpaper for the beach and the sea is painted.

 

This one is a more abstract work about the space programme of the sixties.

It may be a good idea to frame your finished work in a box frame to protect it.

 

 

 

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DEGAS – Pastels with a twist

Degas was one of the forerunners in impressionism. He preferred to work in his studio, and was not impressed with his contemporaries who painted en plain air. Born 1834, he was a little older than the others. He was a trained draughtsman, who then went on to study  at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. He was a highly skilled sketcher, who liked to capture everyday people.

The new paint colours which were just becoming available were the main catalyst for the impressionist movement. Degas’ compositions were dramatic and quite experimental at the time, as in ” Dancers “, 1889.

Caroline used the top left hand figure from this painting for her demonstration.

She began by grating some pastels using a nutmeg grater

Combining acrylic paint (Degas would have used oil paint) and pastel, she started the painting by using a dark pastel to form the outlines. She then put in areas of colour, blocking them in and also using scumbling.

Scumbling is a method of putting one colour onto of another, but leaving some areas of the original colour showing through. All of this work is considered the underpainting

Then, using a white pastel, she went over the face making the colours appear more flesh like. She used small strokes thereby mixing the colours on the paper.

If your colours should come out too white at this stage you can add a bit of yellow.  Working this way she built up layers , getting thicker and thicker.

Finally using some flesh tone acrylic paint, mixed with some of the white grated pastel for texture, she applied this on top. She then mixed some blue grated pastel with the flesh toned acrylic paint, and so on with the other colours, until the desired dramatic effect is achieved.

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Monoprinting by Caroline Marsland

Caroline gave us three demonstrations of monoprinting

Monoprinting is a spontaneous  and quick way of working, and good for getting texture.

The first example was using an oil stick. She started by preparing a frame using an old cat food box made of cardboard, tracing paper and regular printing paper. She then glued the frame in place so it wouldn’t move when she rubbed the top layer onto the framed part.

She ripped out shapes to form mountains from a separate piece of paper and carefully placed this on the framed paper.  You can draw this out if you prefer.  Then she pulled the tracing paper , which has been covered with the oil stick, over the top. She then rubbed hard over the frame and once the tracing paper was removed it revealed the outline of the mountains . Then, turning the torn paper upside down, she placed it to form the reflections of the mountains.  As some of the oil stick has already been removed the second rubbing will be lighter, which worked well.  She then went on to add more details by drawing on the tracing paper and reapplying some more oil stick where needed.

Next she did another print using charcoal. Pastel paper is best for this as it traps more of the charcoal and stops it just moving  around the paper.

She coated a sheet of pastel paper with charcoal then placed this charcoal side down on top of her regular printing paper. She did her drawing on the back of the coated paper and used rubbing to create the shadows.  You can use hatching and crosshatching if you prefer.

For the final demo, she used acrylic paint, and a piece of glass ( from her fridge) and printing paper.

First she coated the glass, starting at the bottom with a mid blue going darker to black at the top to represent the night sky. She put the paint on very thickly making the strokes dynamic to show the energy released by the fireworks. She then folded the paper over the glass and pressed very hard down on the paper.  Next she lifted the paper and, by flicking the paint, spattered several colours onto the glass.  Again press down very hard with the printing paper. Finally she added some buildings to the bottom of the glass and pressed down on top with the paper.  Resist the urge to paint directly onto your print!

 

 

 

 

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Fish painted in watercolour

Caroline’s subject this week was “fish, painted in watercolour”. The vibrancy of the medium was well suited to this subject as can be seen in her beautiful rendition of a tropical fish.
First Caroline lightly outlined the fish in pencil then applied the fish scales and part of the body in a light tone. She carefully left some areas without paint to be filled in later.
The fish’s tail lent itself to some experimenting with use of paint. The tail was painted and then scored with the end of a paint brush to suggest lines and again some areas were left free of paint.
While the paint dried Caroline applied a viridian green loosely to the background to suggest water and reeds. Contrasting colour was used as opposed to considering tonal values at this stage, whereas later darker tones were used to enhance the body of the fish.
Finally the details were carefully painted in with a rigger and some of the white areas were washed over with a pale tone. Some of the painting was left to drip and flicking paint on the green gave it a watery feel.

 

 

Thanks to Judy Richardson for photos and text.

 

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Pen and Wash demonstration by Caroline Marsland 3rd April 2019

When selecting a paper for pen and wash, a smooth hot pressed watercolour paper is best, as rough watercolour paper catches on the pen.

Caroline chose to work with India ink, you can also use Quink.  She doesn’t recommend hobby craft ink, as it can wash off when your wash is applied, whereas the India ink is permanent.

She prefers to work with a mapping nib rather then a drawing nib, which can be a bit scratchy. The joy of using a dip pen is in the good expression you can get from the different thicknesses of strokes.

First, think about what part of your painting is going to be pen and what part wash. You may want it mainly one or the other.

This is the photograph Caroline was working from ( it’s the steps up to Whitby Abbey)

Caroline chose to start with  the pen, as this gives the most freedom of expression. You should look for where the light is coming from and then make your lighter strokes on the side that is getting the light.

She started with the lamppost as this was central and then worked out from that. Remember it doesn’t have to be perfectly drawn; it is your impression of the scene.  If you prefer, you can draw it out lightly in pencil first.  Dip pens are good for squiggles and shapes to suggest bushes. You shouldn’t try to put in every line. A few details are all that’s needed and the viewer fills in the rest.  If you have an accident and get a splurge on the page, this can be covered using white gouache.

The distant subjects should be drawn lighter with the heaviest lines saved for the foreground. Caroline used a rigger for the railings to make them stand out. Random lines are always more interesting to look at than rigid straight lines.

Check that your ink is dry before starting on the washes. Bear in mind that warm colours make a subject come forward, while cool colours will make it recede. Put in your colours  paying attention to the shadows, and not being too exact with the paint, it’s ok if it bleeds a little. You don’t want it to look like painting by numbers!

Caroline used ultra marine and sienna to get the lovely dark shade for the windows. The more distant the lighter your  paint should be , so the stairs are paler at the most distant part which helps with the perspective.

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OIL PASTELS DEMO by Caroline Marsland

Caroline brought  oil pastels by Sennelier, which are an excellent choice as they are pigment rich and a delight to work with. Cheaper brands such as W. H. Smith are not so good as they are all wax and hardly any pigment.

Sugar paper is a good alternative to the preferred pastel paper and is cheaper. The most important thing is to use a paper with a good tooth to hold the pastel.

Selecting a colour that is closest to the mug to be painted, Caroline started by drawing a central vertical line to aid in the drawing of the mug. She then used good observation, not forgetting negative spaces, to make an outline of the mug. She squinted to see the reflected colours in the mug and then blocked these in. You can mix the colours on the paper, and then these can be deepened or lightened by layering until the desired hue is achieved. You may like to use your fingers to blend.

Caroline then worked the bottom half of the mug, building up layers . She made the inside of mug totally black as it appeared and then using the edge of the white pastel she put in the highlights round the rim and on the handle. She also used a torchon to make additional highlights and other small marks of colour. You can take off marks made with oil pastel using this tool, unlike chalk pastels (unless you scrape them off!). Using this tool she pulled out nice shapes in the reflected colours .

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Still Life in Charcoal Demo by Caroline Marsland 6th. March 19

Before starting the drawing, Caroline gave a few tips on working in charcoal:

  •   Sandpaper the paper for dramatic marks
  •   Use good textured paper
  •   Think … Where are my darkest shadows going to be?
  •   WORK BIG!

Blocking in very lightly, Caroline sketched out the group of bottles. Using light strokes to plot the work makes it easy to erase, should it be necessary.

Working dark to light she used heavy marks to start with, noting that wonky lines and random marks make it more interesting.

Using a small piece on its side, dark areas were blocked in and the fiddly bits (little shapes) were made using the end and the edge of the charcoal. At this point Caroline suggested working quickly, so there is “no fiddling”!

To make the image livelier, the background was strengthened, using strong lines and shadows.

Hatching is another useful technique to introduce texture. An eraser can then be brought in to remove parts of the darkest areas, in this case to give the shine on the bottles. Chamois leather can also be very effective instead of an eraser.

Thanks to Christine Elsdon for the notes and photographs.

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Charcoal portraits

The best charcoal to use is Windsor and Newton as it has good deep coverage and is just lovely to use.

Always break the stick into a smaller piece and then you can use it side on or using a corner.

You should use a rough paper with a tooth to give the charcoal something to catch on. Pastel paper is ideal for this.

When tackling a charcoal portrait, you should first decide which method you want to use. Caroline demonstrated both using shadows to define your shapes, and later drafting out your image using the charcoal a bit like a pencil.

She started by covering the entire paper with charcoal lightly, then she put in all the large shadow areas like the eye sockets and under the nose and the outline of the head.

Next she used a rubber  to erase all the lighter areas of the face and eyes and put in all the highlights. She frequently rubbed it on a piece of sand paper to clean the rubber. She used careful observation to ensure that the facial features were correctly sized and positioned, taking note of measurements of spaces between nose and mouth, eyes and nose etc. It’s just a matter of making continual adjustments until you are happy with the end result . Remember you can rub out and replace the charcoal as often as needed. You may prefer to use a charcoal pencil for the finer details, Caroline herself just used the corner of the stick of charcoal. You can also use your fingers to blend it.

The little girl was done using the drawing technique with the corner of the charcoal and then blending with the fingers.

 

 

 

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