Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Charles Reid Workshop - Final Day

Last day, why does a week like this seem to fly? Daily lessons in the importance of all aspects of technique have a real intensity that tires, stimulates and turns the brain to mush as we try to assimilate the wealth of information imparted by a teacher of Charles' talent.

The final demonstration was to be another still life using many of the elements from the previous day. As in previous days empahasis was laid on correct use of the brush and the first photograph shows the technique of using the middle/ lower part of the brush to make the stroke rather than wear away the point on the abrasive surface of the paper.

Brush stroke

The next sequence of pictures show the progression of the latest painting.

Still Life - Contour drawing, Charles Reid

Still Life - Charles Reid, first stage of bouquet

Complete Bouquet - Charles Reid

Work on other elements - Charles Reid

Still Life - Charles Reid

Another top class demonstration, leaving us all wondering how we can emulate it with our own still life efforts during the afternoon.
The last session was in the evening when the opportunity to purchase the demonstration works was set up. Each work was priced and everyone had the opportunity to express an interest in any of the paintings. Where there were a number of expressions of interest a draw was made to determine who would have the painting. Needless to say all of the paintings attracted interest and none of them were going to be responsible for excess baggage charges on the way back to the States. We then had the opportunity to view all of the works done by students during the couse of the week, an impressive exhibition.
Workshops like this one are fairly intense affairs and can be difficult if they are not organised in a sensible fashion. Fortunately this one had two outstanding organisers making sure that things ran smoothly. First of all, Jane Duke who had assumed the responsibility of putting the whole thing together, ensuring that access to the oversubscribed workshop was done in a fair and equitable fashion and then doing all of the background organisation/ administration that is essential if participants are going to have a trouble - free experience. Suffice it to say that she achieved all of this and managed to deal with the inevitable day to day wrinkles without losing the smile and enthusiasm that are her trademarks. Secondly, Charles' wife, Judy, who organises him so that he can concentrate on what the participants want. She makes certain that everyone feels they have had sufficient and appropriate individual attention, even down to creating rotas for front row seats at the demonstrations. All in all, a formidable back up team.
And lastly, the participants themselves. Getting a good mix of people together is not always an easy thing to do, even in circumstances where it is possible to hand pick the group. In a group like this where they are gathered on a first come, first served basis it should be nearly impossible. This group defied expectations in being cohesive, friendly and serious about their work - a great bunch of people. So a few shots of them to wind up proceedings.

Latifa and Gill

Jane Wright

Suzannah, Astrid, Betsey and Ingebjorg




You will have gathered by now that this was a week to savour. I can think of no more appropriate way to sign off than leave you with an image that encapsulates the experience for me, the palette of the Master.


No part of this article can be reproduced without permission

Monday, 21 September 2009

Charles Reid Workshop - Day 5 - Part 2

After lunch it was decided to introduce an optional session. Urchfont is not far from one of the most spectacular ancient monuments in the British Isles, Avebury. The fascinating collection of standing stones spread over a number of fields make the largest stone circle known and for numbers of course participants, particularly our Norwegian and American friends the opportunity to visit this monument was too good to miss. Others more familiar with Avebury were happy to spend the afternoon working at their still life.

Charles kits up for Avebury

For me the opportunity to make a light hearted watercolour sketch of Charles at work seemed too good to miss, so I positioned myself behind him as he worked.

Charles Reid at Avebury - Mick Carney
Followers of Charles' work will know the importance he places on his sketchbook work and this was a unique opportunity to watch him at work in his sketchbook. An ability to record landscape in this fashion is a great boon to the artist who works in the studio. The effective noting technique that the sketchbook provides gives the painter more useful information than photographs and should be a cornerstone of our practice.
Peering into Charles' sketchbook is an education and the first piece below is his sketch produced while I sat behind him.

Avebury - Charles Reid

Unable to resist the temptation to look through the sketchbook I came across the picture below. It had a real resonance for me having had the pleasant surprise of the subject sitting down to dinner next to Sheila and myself on a recent holiday in Venice. The subject is of course another painter and a painting friend of Charles. He needs no introduction from me.

Tony Bennett at work in his studio - Charles Reid

No part of this article can be reproduced without permission

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Charles Reid Workshop - Day 5 - Part 1

Part 1, you ask yourself? Well this day was to be split into two distinct segments, one inside and the 0ther outside. The other reason is that I have to go away for three days and Sheila is waiting with the packed bags at the back door. So get on with Mick.

Still life is a favourite of Charles' admirers and no course of his would be complete without at least one session and so it was to be. If you've been following this blog then you will know the routine by now. A few pictures to show the development of the piece then the completed work. So, here goes.

The Set Up

Contour Drawing - Charles Reid

Importance of correct brush strokes to place petals and leaves

First thoughts on bouquet - Charles Reid

Intermediate - Charles Reid

Still Life - Charles Reid
No part of this article should be reproduced without permission.
Back next week for Part 2

Friday, 18 September 2009

Charles Reid Workshop - Day 4

Up early to another beautiful day and the prospect of working outside again. The venue today was to be the village green in Urchfont. Urchfont is a beautiful place full of thatched cottages and charming properties, many of which date back to centuries long gone. It is like stepping back in time to wander around this gem of a village. This also gives a stimulus to the sort of exercise for today's study. As mentioned in a previous post, Charles has a collection of old photographs showing residents of Urchfont from some time ago and what he decided to do was to introduce one of these into a landscape chosen on the day.

The first part of the drawing was the introduction of one Fred Dowse into the foreground. Charles can be seen using one of his source pictures to complete the drawing. Note also the shade provided by the brolly erected to beat the glare from the white paper.

Initial Drawing

Next stage was the initial application of paint to the foreground figure. Interesting to note here is the fact that Charles does not always complete drawing across all of the paper before starting to paint.

Fred Dowse - Charles Reid, First passage of paint

Next was the drawing and painting of the immediate background to the figure, establishing all of the important tonal contrasts.

Fred Dowse - Charles Reid, intermediate stage
Background shapes are established next.

Fred Dowse - Charles Reid, background shapes introduced

One of the joys of working outside is the serendipitous meetings that take place. George Heath is one of the oldest residents of Urchfont, having lived there all of his life. George joined us and the pleasure to be had from listening to his recollections is immense. The old photographs depicting residents were a great prompt to his memory as he knew many of the individuals and had a fund of stories about them to lighten our day. As he sat talking I managed to make a small sketch on a new piece of watercolour paper with the intention of using him as foreground interest for my work to follow. A magical interlude.

George Heath

Charles moved on to the completion of his piece.

Final touches

All done

Fred Dowse - Charles Reid

Demonstration over, it was time for us to get to work.

Charles moves amongst the students dispensing wisdom.

Another great day.

No part of this article can be reproduced without permission.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Charles Reid Workshop - Day 3

Trip Day. Jane had organised a day out at Lacock, a picturesque village now administered by the National Trust and recognisable as the site of much film location work. The Lark rose to Candleford and we went forth with Pride and Prejudice in various Dickensian poses to attempt to emulate the magic taught at Hogwarts in applying our paint to paper. You get the idea?

Troops assembled outside National Trust office.

The day was a day for exploration and painting. The charming village had a plethora of possible painting subjects and rewarded a little scouting around. It was fairly natural that a number of the group would paint in the same location as Charles, so they could combine their painting with observation of him at work.
Charles checks vantage points.

View from 'Painters' Corner'.
'Painters' Corner', a group positioned themselves with this view to prepare their composition for the day.
However, there was much else of interest, in particular the Abbey. The Abbey houses an interesting museum devoted to Fox Talbot, inventor of the positive/negative process in photography as well as working in a range of disiplines from physics to philosophy.
Lacock Abbey
The village was invaded by painters as well as the usual bunch of tourists. Two of our merry band are below. Peter Ward, an artist from the South west and Gilles Durand from the South of France.

Peter and Gilles.

The day turned out to be perfect, weather to die for and stimulating subject matter to last a life time. As always the last 'word' goes to Charles with his interpretation of the view from 'Painters' Corner'.

Lacock - Charles Reid

No part of this article can be reproduced without permission.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Charles Reid Workshop - Day 2

Rising refreshed after evening critiques, pleasant dinner and much food for thought, Day 2 dawned. The task today would be studying the use of old photographs as the stimulus for figure work. Charles has a collection of photographs depicting old residents of the village of Urchfont where we were working. These are all monochrome images and do not confuse with regard to values by paying too much attention to colour. As was the case every day, great emphasis was given to the drawing process.

Tom Gillet - Charles Reid, preparatory drawing

Tom Gillet - Charles Reid, completed drawing

Charles' practice is to move on to the important central features of the face and it is fascinating to see how much paint actually goes in there. At first it is difficult to see how it all might be reconciled in the final image. The picture below shows the initial pass at rendering the central features. Charles believes in making the first strokes count with little adjustment after any appropriate softening. This image shows his choices of lost and found areas of colour in the face.

Tom Gillet - Charles Reid, detail of face

The next picture shows an intermediate stage, establishing the figure in relation to the surrounding space. Another of his messages, make connections between various elements in the piece and allow escape routes from one passage to another.

Tom Gillet - Charles Reid, intermediate stage

The next picture is the final painting.

Tom Gillet - Charles Reid, Watercolour

Who said watercolour was a clean process? Evidence that Charles practises his splatter technique on the floor as well as the paper.

No part of this article can be reproduced without permission.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Charles Reid Workshop - Day 1

We gathered on Sunday evening at Urchfont Manor for the start of our week being tutored by Charles Reid. A course like this takes some organising and the plans had been put in place two years previously. Jane Duke, an artist based in York had set up the event and bookings opened in August 2008, so those of us who managed to gain a place had a long wait till the event itself. Much credit must be given to Jane for her excellent administration and the way she facilitated proceedings. It's worth visiting her site at as she runs workshops of her own.

Urchfont Manor

Excitement was the order of the day as we assembled on Monday morning for the first session of the workshop. The day was to be devoted to making portraits from the live model.
The routine for workshop days would consist of Charles producing a picture whilst outlining for us the stages in his process and the reasons for doing things in the way that he did. Throughout the week the pattern would be similar, mornings taken up by Charles' demonstrations and exposition then the rest of the day we students would tackle the day's asssignment whilst Charles circulated giving us individual guidance as we worked. The whole organisation maximised the teaching time in class and individual time. It is a tribute to Charles and his wife Judy for the smooth way that these events run.

Charles and model Graham Barclay in position

The demonstration began with an explanation by Charles as to the way he goes about his preparatory drawing, emphasising the relationships between various elements of the face and the posture, then the contour drawing method constantly relating shapes in and out of the silhouette.
Graham - Charles Reid, preparatory drawing

The next stage was to establish the important areas in the centre of the face placing darks and ensuring that the places where light and shadow meet are well represented.

Graham - Charles Reid, first stage of paint application

The next stage was developing the middle tones across the face.

Graham - Charles Reid, second stage of paint application

The last stage was the final development of the other features and the odd tweaks that pull the image together.

Graham Barclay - Charles Reid

Questioning during the painting prompted an extra demonstration on the rendering of eyes, the details of which will be familiar to readers of Charles' many books but nevertheless a treat to watch the flow of his paint and the impact of his final rendition. The first morning had been a first rate session and it left us all enthused for our own model sessions after a decent lunch.

No part of this article can be reproduced without permission.