Friday, 28 June 2013

Swiss Sojourn

I've just returned from an enjoyable break staying at the home of some friends on the shores of Lake Geneva. As it was a holiday there was little scope for spending time with the brushes, indeed the only kit I had with me was a small box of watercolours and a block of Not paper. 

Daytime excursions gave me the opportunity to make lots of photographs as well as a few sketches for future reference so my main painting activity took place in the evenings. The selection of pictures here reflect this activity.

The first picture is the view from the terrace of the house where we were staying and it was a delight every day to witness the changing conditions and light. This view in all its forms provides the vast majority of my photographs. Future painting projects will reflect the many changes seen from this spot.

Lake Geneva - Watercolour on Not paper 12" x 9"

I was delighted when the family who own the house decided that they would like this picture for their walls.

To keep the brushes operating on a regular basis I got into the habit of setting up a few artefacts to provide still life compositions for the evening and the following pictures represent some of those sessions.

Still Life 1 - Watercolour 12" x 9"

Still Life 2 - Watercolour 12" x 9"

Still Life 3 - Watercolour 12" x 9"

Still Life - Watercolour 12" x 9"

Monday, 10 June 2013

Charles Reid at Burford - Third Demonstration, Still Life

Our third demonstration was the perennially popular still life session where Charles puts together a selection of artefacts, fruit and flowers to make an arresting image.

The Set Up

Charles regularly states that he likes a haphazard arrangement reflecting the way objects are left rather than the more formal arrangements liked by some still life painters. For him the arrangement should have lots of connections between the various artefacts.

As usual the drawing is done in the contour style, pencil remaining on the paper. The first thing drawn was the vase and all the other elements were drawn in relation to it. There was very little detail in the blooms.

The Drawing

The first strokes of paint were foliage, placed in such a way that they created a series of negative shapes, particularly around the white blooms. The foliage colour was largely mixed on the paper and the different pigments can be seen in the photograph.

The First Strokes

The next photograph shows a detail where you can see the range of pigment used in rendering foliage and blooms.


In moving around the painting Charles makes sure that he paints connections and often has pigments running into each other as he does so.

Moving Around

As he moves around and begins new passages he ensures that he keeps his brush on the paper till requiring more pigment. The same routine with the brush is followed each time. The brush is loaded with water, excess is shaken off then the brush is put into the pigment which is kept at a moist consistency before being applied to the paper. He then ensures that the contact with the paper is made with the whole of the brush and not just the point. Brush longevity is a consideration when using expensive sable implements.

The background of the painting is hinted at with a few splashes, warm and cool, to provide a little texture. Splashes are a regular technique used by Charles who is likely to add a few whenever he thinks that he is tightening up.

Another great demonstration.

Still Life - Charles Reid, watercolour on half sheet

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Charles Reid at Burford - Second demonstration - Portraits

The second demonstration that Charles set up was a portrait session and unusually he declared that he was going to produce two portraits, one profile and another in three quarter view. As always the session started with Charles producing a contour drawing. During this segment we were to listen to many sound tips in relation to making the original drawing. 

"Begin by putting down a light oval shape to delineate the placement of the head.

Draw a line around the curve of the oval to mark the line around which the central features are arranged.

Start the detailed drawing at the eyes or nose and relate everything back to them.

Place mouth with dot relating to the eye.

Many people make noses too long, beware of this.

Keep stopping and checking whilst keeping the pencil on the paper. 

Draw in shadow shapes".

Initial Drawing - note shadow shape beside left eye and small demo of an eye at top

"Begin painting  around centre and put in dark shapes.

Draw in shapes with the point of the brush then soften them".

Charles spent some time showing the choices he makes to produce his flesh tones and shadow shades, these can be seen at the bottom of the sheet. The colours will vary according to the individual's complexion. Simply they consist of Cadmium Red Light with a yellow from Cadmium Yellow Light, Raw Sienna and sometimes Burnt Sienna. The addition of a blue creates the shadow and the choice is judged by the value required, Cerulean, Cobalt and Ultramarine being his choices, light to dark.

Profile - Charles Reid, watercolour on half sheet

Charles then moved onto the second view of the model with the same routine in terms of drawing.
In this picture it is easier to see some of his construction lines in this picture. Note the line delineating the central features and the arc across the eyes. You can also see the oval placed to indicate the nose position. Most of these lines are reduced by eraser so that they are lighter than pictured here but many are not removed altogether.

Three Quarters view - Drawing

Initial washes

Sheet layout

Three Quarter view completed

In the above photograph you can see the notes that Charles appended. Here he emphasised the technique he uses next to highlights. The hard edge next to the highlight is placed and keeping the brush on the paper the pigment is worked away then softened.

Two Portraits - Watercolour on half sheet by Charles Reid