17 August 2014

Five evenings of painting class

"Materials and Methods of Painting" was the title of the course. I took it in order to get some knowledge, practice, and confidence about using paint ... and hopefully an idea or two to move me away from the stripey painting. It was not plain sailing, but I'm glad I stuck it out.

Day 1

A scale of greys - so easy to get the mid-tone wrong -
 After trying to capture the grey tones of the plinths (too boring to show!) we had a go at the plaster bust -

Day 2

Drawing with charcoal, trying the fit the model onto the page -
Then the fun began. Everyone moved two easels along, and followed instructions.

Adding blue acrylic to indicate the darkest areas -
Using yellow for lighter areas; it mixed with the still-wet blue to give a mid tone -
Work in progress -
Light yellow added for the highlights -
Finally, we could touch it up and/or add background -
Not sure that's the one I originally drew, but it's the one I finished up with and that came home with me ... Which just goes to show, it's not the outcome that matters, it's the experience that counts. In any case, it was quite liberating to work on an image that wasn't your own - you just did what you could with what you had.

After the break (these are three-hour classes), using blue again, but on a midtone ground -
 Adding "real colours" -
 Very colourful in some cases! -

Day 3

Still using acrylics, but first some quick charcoal drawing - two sketches of three  minutes each, rub those out, then another without looking at the paper -
 The model took two different poses, and we were to fit them both onto the same sheet of paper -
 She moved back and forth between the poses as we added colour, one colour for darker tones and another for lighter ones -
 My figures are all tangled up ... I was still working on the "fit the model onto the whole page" instruction ...
 Other people laid out their page more sensibly -
 After the break, the panels we had gessoed earlier went up on the easels, and an underpainting of acrylic was applied -
 Looking at this now, I can see the fatal flaw (in fact, I can see nothing but the fatal flaw!) -
 Most people used two colours, as the previous day -

Day 4

The messiness of getting out the oil paint nearly drove me to distraction, as did the messiness of using it. The only thing to do was ... persevere ...
 The fatal flaw is of course the proportion of the legs - and the small matter of the displaced kneecap -
The colourful dress wasn't much fun to paint, especially as the pattern changed every time the model had a break and sat down again -
As for the pink cardigan ... we weren't allowed white paint so had to use the transparency of the paint itself, or else mix what we could -
The colourful backgrounds look great -

Day 5

We brought in a photograph. An almost-random dip into my pre-digital files pulled out these -
With the help of some enlarged photocopies, I set to work on the Weston-super-Mare pier, first by using paint under tissue paper for the boards -
 Then a wash for the sky, another for the sea, and thicker for the pillars etc -
A few details (some of the white was applied with the side of a palette knife) and it was done; time taken, 2.5 hours -
But haste makes mistakes ... those pigeons could be better placed ... I was following the photo rather than thinking about the painting. And aren't they huge! Hey ho, "next time" ... or I might have to mix up some brown and do a bit of touching up. Oh to have a scrap of that brown tissue to hand, for pasting over to make the birds disappear ... painting is magic, after all.

Looking back

It was a quiet class, with eight of us turning up for the final session, and a lot of concentration rather than chat. The course was well structured, and the tutor was definite in timings, which helped ("in three minutes, stop painting and walk around and look at everyone's work" ... "30 seconds left..."); he told us about cleanup methods and also about learning how much painting you could actually do within a certain time, which seems obvious but isn't something I'd really thought about.

The final painting was only possible because of the liberation after the hard slog of three sessions of working from a model, one of those in the "strange" medium of oils. Getting back to acrylics, and working from a photograph, was a delight! Racing against the clock to finish was a challenge ... fun ...


Stitchinscience said...

You are doing some tremendous courses this summer Margaret, that one looks excellent. I really like the painting of the pier. Can you explain how the tissue paper and paint technique works or let me know a link to that?

Olga Norris said...

I guess that the tight structure and the pressure of time and other instructions help to focus on the technique rather than the subject. I suspect that I would have imploded - but it is fascinating reading or your progress.