The Importance of Good Design

Yesterday I had the pleasure of stewarding at the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry being exhibited  at the Westminster Hall in London. This spectacular collection of embroidered panels from people of global Scottish descent was amazing in it’s blending of colours, line, and design. Many people commented on the use of similar colours and drawing style. This was because all of the 305 panels were carefully designed by one artist.  This  talented artist was Andrew Crummy. He drew each panel with lines and colour and left the actual stitching styles and some content  to the embroiderers. This gave this display the continuity needed for such a grand effect.

This continuity of good design and style is important for an artist to develop ones own reconizable artistic voice. Investigating many ways of doing art is all part of the growing process for an artist. Settling on one subject or method can be a challenge.  The backbone of artistic progress must be in good design. After that, following your passion is what inspires you to produce more.

Thoughts from a Dupont Art Club member

J. Alexander

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When is a Painting Finished? 12th April

A talk by Caroline Marsland.

There is no limit time-wise to finishing a painting.

The examples by Turner of a ship emerging from fog and a train emerging from steam capture the mood effectively yet have little detail.  Turner stopped painting as soon as the work said all he wanted it to say.

Several paintings may at first glance look “unfinished” but they concentrate on the focus which could be a face or even a mood, feeling or tone.

The Lowry concentrates on the stairs of a footbridge and there is no extraneous detail.

Paintings can be overworked.  The beach scene by Eric Fischl has every figure done with the same degree of detail and confuses the eye.

When working on your own painting consider:

Are the colours balanced?

  • Is the focal point correctly positioned?
  • Are there any distracting objects?
  • Does the eye flow round the painting?
  • Does the painting convey the message you want?

To assess your work, it may help to stand farther away, look at it through a mirror or even put it away for a few days then re-examine it with fresh eyes.

Many thanks to Lesley McBride, who kindly took notes and photos in my absence.






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Wax-resist Techniques with Watercolour – Landscapes 29th March

To begin this session, Caroline pointed out that, like watercolours, this technique needs careful planning and forethought. Although wax has been shown before in seascapes, it can also be used in landscapes and skies.

A rocky landscape was outlined, then, working from light to dark:


Mark out the lightest white part with small birthday candles.

Put on a light blue wash, apply more wax “clouds”.

Paint on a darker wash, when the wax and blot effect will begin to show. Continue with a darker was (maybe Cobalt Blue) followed by more wax, then perhaps experiment with Ultramarine, Turquoise or green.


Put on solid amounts of wax and apply a light wash of blue/green. Shade in any reflections from the shoreline.


Starting with the lower slopes, Caroline put on a wash mix of pale green and yellow. Burnt Sienna was used for the upper slopes. Then she covered all the paint in wax, not completely, but with some gaps, followed by an application of browns. For the effect of scree on the mountain sides use raw umber and dark green. Caroline then scattered salt on the wet paint and then rubbed it over with wax.

We all found this demo particularly helpful, having attempted, at one time or another to paint the gravelly surfaces of mountainous landscapes.

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Spreading a little Love With Art

Spreading a little love with ART

Recently my friend and fellow artist Tina Stiles arranged to visit the Dane seniors home in Hove, UK to teach art.This was initiated by the Brighton and Hove Arts Council who arrange for outreach to the community to enrich the lives of others through having some of their many member organizations volunteer to do things like this. Tina and I are members of the Dupont Art Club.
We worked with a half dozen people who made and decorated their own cards to be sent to love ones. During this time there was laughter and comradely amongst the people with all of them able to complete at least two cards each. They were very happy to have people take the time to work and interact with them.
We each have something to offer others be it cheerful conversation, company or teaching a little bit of art. With art, people don’t have to speak if they don’t wish to and can communicate through their art. They just immerse the themselves in a relaxing activity.
Although we were the ones to give of our time, we were all the richer for this with feelings of giving a little of our skills to enrich the lives of others.



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The Dupont Pub Quiz 22nd March

Last Wednesday evening saw the return of the popular pub quiz, held at the Duke of Wellington. Six teams competed for the prize of cash prize of £20, which was won by Team Gin It to Win It. Eve Cole officiated as quiz master and kept order among the enthusiastic teams. Everyone gained a lot of information. For example: when did rationing end? Which sport prohibits the wearing of beards?  Which cheese is wrapped in nettles? And many other “fascinating facts”

Jane Jukes ran a very profitable raffle, which netted £28 for club funds. Thanks to all who donated prizes, including the landlord, who gave a presentation boxed Chivas Regal and kindly provided pizzas to keep up the competitors’ strength!

Special mention for Team Princess Cowboys,  who entered the spirit of things and dressed for the occasion (see below).

A very enjoyable evening’s entertainment was had by all and thanks go to Tina Stiles O’Brien for, once again, organising a splendid event which raised £78 for club funds.

In response to requests from club members, further quiz dates will be announced during the year.

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Perspective Demo 15th March

Caroline gave a very interesting demonstration of the use of perspective last week. There was a detailed and fast commentary to accompany the diagrams, and for that reason, this report has only shots of the demo. Caroline has asked that, in the interests of clarity, anyone who would like to have any further explanation should speak to her.

We all enjoyed the session very much, and watched in awe as Caroline deftly produced what seemed like architectural drawings at great speed. One Point Perspective was very useful for those of us attempting the terraced houses of Brighton/Anywhere, and Two Point Perspective no less so. The planning of stairs was particularly helpful too. With regard to still life drawing of vessels, the planning of an ellipse and cup showed method as opposed to freehand.

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Life Drawing Deomonstration

Life Drawing
On March 1st Dupont art instructor, Caroline Marsland gave us a lecture and demonstration on life drawing.
She started out by advising us that we need to decide at the beginning what we want to say in the picture. We can be accurate, want to accentuate certain features, show certain emotions, etc.
She recommends that we do several quick sketches first before doing a large drawing.
Look at the general shape of the figure. Don’t start with the head. Draw the shape of the back, the shoulder placements along with the hips, and legs. See if you can see shapes in the body. identify points on the body to line them up accurately, look at angles of these shapes.
Perspective is important with accurate drawing. A child’s body if approximately five times the size of it’s head while a man’s is seven times the size of the head. There are three heads size to the waist and hands fall to the thighs. For head measurement, from the palm of your hand to your finger tips are usually the measurement from the chin to just above the eyebrow.
Look at negative shapes to assist with accuracy. Build up shadows for shape. Squint for these shadows. Always step back from your drawing to judge the accuracy.
In order to judge the size, hold your pencil out with a straight arm against the part of the distant  body you are drawing and compare it to other parts.
Use any paper which has tooth to it. Charcoal and chalk are dramatic and charcoal and watercolour work well together. She warned us that some of the charcoal sticks available now are quite scratchy. She recommends the Windsor and newton ones  give a smooth finish.
This workshop is a precursor to an all day workshop which Caroline will be giving to Dupont members in June, 2017.

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Portraits in Watercolour 15th February

In discussing the differences between painting young and old faces, Caroline began with a very helpful hint: use wet in wet for young smooth faces, wash over first and drop in the colour, giving the bloom on the cheeks.

The model this week was a Cuban woman of some years, accompanied by her cigar. Starting by penciling in the features, beginning at the nose, Caroline then outlined the mouth and lastly the eyes.

To paint this very colourful subject, the following palette was used:

Firstly she used a weak yellow wash generally.

Yellow Ochre was the base colour, mixed with red & green.

For the brown, Caroline always mixes her own with red and green.

For the wrinkles she mixed Cadmium Deep Red with Ultramarine and Yellow Ochre was made and orange for the eye sockets.

For the olive green of the cheek patch and background, Hookers Green, Claret or Cherry red were used and a purple used for the lips.

We all watched with awe as the aged face emerged under Caroline’s deft brushwork. The following pictures give an idea of the gradual building of the portrait.

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Pen & Wash 1st February

Caroline uses a dip pen which gives both thin and thick lines.  She uses a writing nib No. 5,with a ball on the end. Cartridge paper can be used, but water colour washes won’t flow so well.

First, we should think why we want to use pen and wash: which part should be mostly ink, which is strong and will be the focal point.

Method 1: Wash First

Shapes can be put in quite roughly and allowed to dry. When putting the ink features in, cross hatching can suggest shade and darker areas.

Method 2: Ink First

Lightly mark the features with the pen. Also you can draw in pencil first to get softer lines.

Trees can just be suggested by the shape of a trunk and using a wash for the rest.

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