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Bonus Features May 2019

Bonus features from some of our talented PaintersOnline artists plus extracts from two new Search Press books

Julie Curry   Margaret Mallows   Nigel Wade   Paulette Farrell   Carole Robson   Eddie Armer


My Heroic Pencil by Julie Curry

If you are anything like me, going into an art shop is like a child going into a sweet shop. They are filled with so much colour and lots of new exciting things to try and play with that it's impossible to leave without buying something! There is no denying that many of the new products on the market are very useful and a joy to try, but my art box is still full of my old and trusted favourites.

The go-to item in my art box is my 2B chisel pencil. I usually start a painting by sketching out a few ideas and formats - maybe landscape or portrait.

I first learnt to use this type of pencil at school. Back then it was called a Carpenters pencil and was short and stubby, the kind of thing a Handy Man would have tucked behind his ear. You can achieve just about any effect you want to with a chisel pencil. It's great for broad bold shapes, fast shading or for fine delicate marks. I find it particularly useful with life drawings or portraits.

Every day I aim to draw something, either in my sketchbook, or on a scrap of paper. Sheets of paper are useful because muddying the first page of a pristine sketch book is a daunting prospect. It's weird how scary it is to make that first mark on the clean sparkly white page of your new sketch book.  I often find sheets of paper more useful than sketchbooks, because I'm not limited to size. If I suddenly have a 'light bulb' moment I find it easier to add to or attach to a sheet of paper, and I like to try out new ideas before settling on my final composition. I keep this prep-work in a folder or scrap book which I go back to time and time again for inspiration.

When starting to draw I don't spend time looking for that 'ideal' subject, I just draw whatever is in front of me. Amazingly, I can get quite lost in drawing the most mundane objects and recently spent a very enjoyable half hour drawing the bath taps. By doing this I really get to know the subject and I'm often surprised by finding an idea for a painting in the most unexpected places. Creating a master piece from my bath tap sketch anytime soon is unlikely - but you never know! Who cares anyway, its good practice, it helps to keep up my drawing skills and it's fun.

One of my favourite subjects to draw is people, and if I go out and about, there is no shortage of models. Strangely, I find that the busier the area, I choose for a days sketching, the less chance there is of being spotted or pestered. One of my favourite haunts is Trafalgar Square, London. It can be very crowded, which seems to work to my advantage. If I sit on the wall outside of the National Gallery I can sketch without being seen, because most people are busy watching the street entertainers. This gives me an added bonus, because the crowds tend to stand still for a while watching the entertainment.

The other advantage is that all I need to carry is pencil and paper. When sketching in this way the chisel pencil is worth its weight in gold because I can get an image down quite quickly. Its terrific for all sorts of mark making but I find it particularly useful if I want to cover large areas at speed, or if I only have time to make a few marks before my model walks off. By changing the pressure or angle that I'm holding the pencil I can create a wide variety of marks and tones very easily. The chisel pencil also stops me from getting bogged down in too much detail.

I always jump at any opportunity to draw figures or portraits, but guess I'm lucky because most of the major galleries in London run life drawing sessions. They don't tend to be tutored, so you have to be disciplined, but its also gives an opportunity to try out your own ideas rather than working in a prescribed way. For me, the best way to start these sessions is with a couple of quick warm up sketches, before making a more studied drawing. I often use my life studies to create small paintings. To do this I carefully study the tones of the figure and make sure I know which side the model is lit from. Apart from my drawing it can also be very useful to include a few written notes, such as light direction, colour of clothing etc.

 

There are times when I come across a photo that inspires me to paint. Recently I was looking through my childhood family photo album and came across a photograph of me, with two school friends sitting on a wall eating ice lollies. It brought back such happy memories, I just had to try and capture it in paint. If I work from a photo I always start by making a tonal study then a quick colour study, usually in watercolour. Finally I work up the painting using my studies rather than the original photo. By doing this I don't fall into the trap of trying to copy the photo exactly.

Of course it doesn't matter what your favourite subject to draw or paint might be, we all know our work will improve if we really get to know the subject. What better way to do this than to draw it. I prefer to do this using a pencil, but you may choose something else and it can be good to try new products. What does it matter as long as we keep practising and enjoy it.

One of the things I love about drawing and painting is the opportunity to continually challenge myself and learn new tricks along the way. Someone once told me "if you can draw a successful self portrait you can draw anything". Well, that's my next challenge and I'm busy sharpening my pencil as we speak.

See more of Julie's work in the PaintersOnline gallery by clicking here.


Have a go at printmaking with Margaret Mallows

Do you have memories of lino printing at school? Blunt tools, curling lino and poor results?

Well, think again. Printmaking can be done at home with minimal equipment; it’s fun, engaging and a great way to make affordable, original art. Despite all your best efforts, no two prints will ever be exactly alike –this adds to the desirability hand-made prints offer. I had never tried printing before, but have always loved the look of limited edition prints – they have a unique quality quite unlike other art. When my family was growing up, I had no time to paint but was able to buy limited edition prints for my home – it’s an affordable way to start one’s own art collection.

Just over two years ago, I began to teach myself print making – both lino and dry point etching. From the first time of trying it, I was hooked. I had to learn more. With a basic instruction book and starter lino set, and watching online videos, I went from complete novice to starting to sell my prints within a few months. People clearly liked my work as sales have been good – my work is now in homes in 16 countries worldwide. And the pinnacle for me as I write – having two prints shortlisted for the Royal Academy summer exhibition 2019, my first ever entry.

You too can have a go, and benefit from the many mistakes I’ve made on my journey.

Basic equipment you will need:

  • A lino printing starter set (available from all good art suppliers) – or if you buy items separately:
  • Lino
  • Cutters
  • Relief printing ink
  • Acetate or glass sheet
  • Ink roller
  • Paper
  • Palette knife
  • Wooden spoon
  • Sticking plasters

LINO: There are several different types available:

  • Traditional lino is easy to cut but prone to having crumbly edges, and warping. Warming it up before cutting (a hair dryer will do) will help.
  • Soft cut lino sheets – these cut with ease but edges can stretch.
  • Japanese vinyl – a little harder to cut but allows for small precise cutting. The inside of this is black which makes it easy to see where you’ve already cut. The soft cut lino and vinyl can both be washed under a tap for easy cleaning.

CUTTERS:

  • To begin with, use the inexpensive handles with interchangeable cutting tools. It’s a cheap and easy way to get a good variety.

RELIEF PRINTING INK:

  • I first used the water based version which came with the starter set, and it’s perfectly good enough for practicing, though unlikely to remain light fast. This cleans up easily with soap and water. Emboldened, I then splashed out and bought a range of tins of a popular oil based, water washable ink, thinking it would not be any different. How wrong I was! They were not as easy to use, took ages to dry (I was still using too much ink at that stage which didn’t help), and formed ‘skins’ in the tins. How I hated those inks. I now use the Schmincke artists quality inks – water based with a lovely matt finish, they remain wet on the inking sheet for a long time, dry quickly when printed, and offer good light fastness. The oil based inks are popular though, so buy a small tube of each to try out first, and see which you like best.

ACETATE OR GLASS SHEET:

  • If you buy a starter set, it will have a small tray for inking. I found this to be too small – rollering ink is easier with a larger surface.

INK ROLLER:

  • A set will come with one, otherwise buy a medium size, hard roller.

PAPER:

  • For practicing, cartridge paper will do, although if you use an oil based ink you may get ‘bleed through’ of oil to the back of the paper. Print making paper is available from about £1 upwards for a large sheet, or in pads.

SUNDRY ITEMS:

Any palette knife for colour mixing; A wooden spoon – you’ll use the back of this to transfer the inked lino to the paper. For larger prints or bigger quantities, a Japanese baren is fairly inexpensive and will produce more consistent results with less effort. Tracing paper; a biro or fine India ink pen; sticking plasters: Trust me, cutters are sharp!

To start, use a piece of lino to practice cutting and get to know the different marks the cutters make. Please be careful with these – always cut away from the body and keep fingers & thumb out of the way. ‘V’ shaped cutters will produce a very fine line, or a wider line if pushed through with a deeper cut. ‘U’ shaped cutters produce softer, shaped cuts. Larger cutters are useful for clearing bigger areas. Have fun just trying the different ones out – you may be surprised at the variety of marks you can make. Use this piece of lino to try your first inking and printing.

Squeeze out some ink onto the plate and use the roller to spread it out until the roller has just a thin film all over. A little goes a long, long way. Roller your practice lino sheet. Traditional lino covers quickly, the plastic or vinyl ‘resist’ more to begin with.

Cover your inked lino with a slightly larger piece of paper, and gently rub over the entire surface with the back of a wooden spoon, using a circular motion. This transfers the ink to the paper. Peel the paper back and you have your print – in reverse to the cut image on the lino. With practice you will know how much ink and pressure produces the best results.

Now you can make a print of your own design. Draw the image you want on paper, and trace it. Then turn the tracing over, onto the lino, and pencil over the lines. This will give you the reverse image on lino. Go over the pencil with an India ink pen or biro. I go over mine twice, allow it to dry, then wash the excess ink away with soapy water. You will still clearly see your lines, but you won’t get bleed through of ink onto the paper.

Next, cut out all the areas you don’t want to be printed – the cut away areas remain as white paper. Ink up the lino and print your design. Congratulations! You’ve made your first print, and practice makes perfect! This simple lino print shows black ink on white paper.

For variety, you could use the same size lino uncut, print the entire sheet with a colour, and when dry print your design over the top to produce a 2 colour print. I did this with the little Allium trio print and produced a fun range of colours.

You may have ink picked up on cut areas of lino – as here with my print And Proud, (see below), which was intentional. If you don’t want these marks on your print, either do more cutting to smooth the areas more, or use cotton buds to clean off the unwanted ink before printing.

Once you’re happy, you can try more prints with just one colour, or try a lino reduction print – just one piece of lino is used to produce a print with multiple colours. To do this you’ll have to make sure the prints register (line up) correctly in exactly the same place each time. Mark a board (thick card, hardboard or thin MDF will do) with the position of the lino sheet, and the position of the paper. You’ll need to put both the lino and the paper in exactly the same position each time. With this method, I had a failure rate of about 10 – 15% despite my best efforts; even a tiny bit out of true will ruin a print, but you may be better at this method than I was. I now use Ternes Burton tabs and pins; these are not expensive and give 100% accuracy for me.

 

Before starting your reduction print, decide how many you want to make; you cannot add more once you start printing. Have a clear idea of how you want your print to look - making a coloured drawing will help. Draw out your design on lino (in reverse of the image you want, remember). Cut away any areas you want to remain white, then print your first colour for the whole edition.

As a general rule, start with the lightest colours and work through to the darkest colours. Some inks are a little more transparent than others, notably red and yellow, so if you want a good ‘clean’ colour of these then print them early on.

When the first colour has been printed, cut away all the lino where you want that colour to remain, then print the next colour. Repeat the process until the print is finished – with multiple colours this can be a lengthy business, but all fascinating to see a print take shape as you go.

My print, Opportunists, below, was printed with 3 colours; I first cut away all the areas I wanted white, and printed the first colour (grey). I then cut the lino again, removing areas I wanted to remain grey on the print. This was repeated with the next colour - blue – and again for the final colour of black.

When you are confident you will want to try a print with more colours; don’t rush the cutting process, as any mistakes at any time could ruin the print, as has happened to me on more than one occasion. Different print making papers will produce different results, so it’s worth buying a range and experimenting to see which you like best.

Shown below are two multi-colour prints – Just Add Custard and Symphony in Stone, which are my two shortlisted prints for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2019. Both prints took a long time to make, but I was happy with the results. Just Add Custard is of a patch of rhubarb in my garden, and I was inspired by the early morning sun backlighting the leaves – it produced an almost abstract effect of light, shade and colour. Symphony in Stone shows some of the pillars outside the Natural History Museum in London. I visited last year on a very bright, sunny day, and loved the light throwing the pillars into sharp relief.

Just Add Custard

Symphony in Stone

I now have a table top etching press; it will print a large size, without the expense of a studio press, and takes up little room. I also use Pfeil cutters, which come in a large range of sizes and can be re-sharpened, and have several rollers in different sizes.

You can see more of my work on my website www.artfinder.com/margaret-mallows and on there is a ‘me at work’ section with more work in progress pictures.

Enjoy your printing journey!

See more of Margaret's work in the PaintersOnline gallery by clicking here. Or on the Artfinder website. Margaret also posts work on Instagram @margaret.mallows.


Towards Southend by Nigel Wade

Some of my paintings do it for me and some just don't! I paint landscapes, seascapes and architectural subjects in the main but they don't all mean the same to me. My favourite ones, the ones I would hang on the wall at home, have to have a meaning as well as depicting an image that I actually like. This painting, "Towards Southend," is very significant to me and actually it does hang on my living room wall.

Composition of the image is key in the first instance, so on our trips out my wife and I are often snapping away on the camera, both always at pains to avoid what we call "chocolate box images". I can't say I always manage this but I don't think I paint any of these any more - not if I can help it anyway. I need lots of reference photos because I paint lots of detail which is highly accurate to the scene itself, mainly because this is what I like doing and also because the people who buy my paintings want this accuracy.

It is a subject I wrestle with though, or rather that I used to wrestle with, because I've accepted it now, but people either admire realism/ hyperrealism/ photo-realism as a genre or they can't see the point of it. Well if it was good enough for John Ruskin, it's good enough for me and Ruskin’s Pre-Raphaelite principles were that the artist "rejects nothing and selects nothing." Anyway, I've tried to loosen my style up from time to time and it doesn't seem to work for me, I'm just not very good at it, so I will leave it to those who are!

Back to the subject of this painting, Towards Southend. It was the second time I had painted this view, using the same reference photos but from a fractionally different angle this time and I was commissioned to do it after a friend saw Version One. Here are both images, as you can see they are very similar, each with a slightly different light.



We ended up on the sea front at Leigh on Sea on an April day in 2016 after arranging my best mate Paul's funeral - just had to clear the head - when the sun came out and the sky became very dramatic and almost heavenly. I immediately took a few photos and I just knew I was going to paint this view which was looking towards Southend, with the mile-long pier in the very distance. I didn't realise then that I'd paint it twice.


Stages 1 - 3


I'd decided the painting was going to be A4 size, to fit the space I intended it for, although I prefer painting A2 or A3 size these days. That moment when you're good to go, pencils and paints at the ready with a blank sheet of watercolour paper staring up at you is always daunting and I always start slowly, doing an initial drawing. The first few images in this step by step show the drawing stage, I did the distance and middle distance first and a rough representation of the clouds. To get the overall dimensions and perspective right I tend to measure a fair bit and after a while I get fed up with that and decide to do a rough outline of the foreground and then I can't wait to start painting the sky.


Stages 4 - 7


I really love the freedom of painting skies - probably because the rest of the painting is going to be quite tight. For the sky I use ultramarine and ceruleum blue, together with Chinese white. That splash of blue on the paper always looks too blue at first, but I hold my nerve because I'm then onto the clouds which I know will contrast with it nicely. I have ivory black, Chinese white, titanium white and a bit of ultramarine blue on my palette and off I go, doing an area at a time and redoing it until I'm happy with the effect. It's quite a dramatic sky - just what I like painting.


Stages 8 - 12

The distance and middle distance was challenging, as there’s a lot of detail in the boats, the channels of water and the vegetation. Yellow ochre, sap green, ivory black and Chinese white were the main colours I used here, some of the channels of water were left as blank paper and I enjoyed getting the muddy water effect. The boats were fun to do, especially the rusting, marooned pink one, but it's the muddy water that I enjoyed most.


Stages 13 - 16

I can't say I was looking forward to doing that foreground that much as I knew I would be investing a lot of time painting what most people would think of as weeds in very fine detail. I tend to paint a black wash first for this kind of vegetation and then paint light over dark - not the traditional way with watercolour - but it works for me to get the intense shadows. I then paint the plants in very undiluted mixtures of paint, sometimes completely neat to get the intense colours. Sap green, emerald green, leaf green lemon yellow hue, cadmium yellow, yellow ochre, ivory black, Chinese white were on my palette for this phase of the painting and yes, it did take quite a bit of time. The. Intense yellow of the flowers in the sunshine showed that even weeds can look good. 48 hours later, all done, signed and off to the framers; this is the part of the journey I like best, but I'm already looking forward to starting the next one within a day.

Finished painting

Towards Southend

See more of Nigel's work in the PaintersOnline gallery by clicking here. Or visit his website, nigelwadeart.com


Expressive drawing of a robin in charcoal by Paulette Farrell

Expressive art means different things to different artists. Because I describe myself as drawing and painting expressively I tend to enjoy reading articles and discussions by artists about how to draw or paint expressively.  In doing so the definitions can vary from using bright colours, using bold brush strokes, abstract art, adding texture, mixed media and so on. The Tate’s definition of expressionist says can be applied to any era but commonly bright unnatural colours, bold and free brush strokes that evoke feelings and emotions. Expressive art is popular, my most expressive pieces where I have achieved bold strokes, sense of movement and a strong emotion tend to be the ones that customers prefer. They look ‘arty’ and they leave enough space in the piece for the collector to weave their own stories and ask their own questions. Expressive art does not have to remain in the realm of colour, drawings and sketches by their own can be wonderfully instinctive pieces of art.

In this article I will demonstrate my process of drawing a robin using charcoal. Charcoal is one of the best mediums for expressive drawing, it allows suggestions of form with minimum effort, this loose application suggests movement and life. Whilst birds naturally have beautiful colours, colour itself can often steal the show.  I like to take out the colour to allow space for the viewer to notice other things, details, movement, emotion.

I took this photo of a rather plump robin that was sitting in the feeding tray outside my studio window, her body was tilted to one side as she gazed in at me, her face resting in a wonderful pout. That is what I wanted to capture…

 

In the photo below I have converted to black and white and increased the shadows.

When working in charcoal I use Nitram charcoal. The charcoal comes in various shapes and hardness and can be sharpened to a point. 

Generally I use the big stick charcoal, soft stick, HB and H charcoal. I also have a Conte Pierre Noire for the very dark black details such as eye pupils. This is a rich black pencil which can also be bought in various hardnesses. The metal measure is invaluable for checking proportions.

The other two essentials are some form of sharpening block, Nitram sell their own. As well as a paper towel for blending and blending sticks or stumps.

Papers for charcoal work are endless and have a big impact on the finished work. It pays to experiment to see which papers suit your style of drawing. I like to apply the charcoal heavily initially and then move the charcoal around by lifting it off, blending it in so I tend to choose papers that allow that. Currently I am using Stonehenge drawing paper. They are 100% cotton so tend to be expensive but the tooth is not too prominent which means that the paper doesn’t grab all the charcoal at once and I can add and take away as I work it. Another good paper would be watercolour paper which again is 100% cotton.(hot pressed is my preference which is the smoothest). This piece is square 8” x 8”.

Birds are wonderful creatures to represent in art, however in real life birds never stay still. They are either constantly moving or about to move. Whilst there are some beautiful drawings and paintings of birds, with their feathers drawn to amazing detail these paintings can be very static.  Personally, I always like to suggest movement in my drawings which is why drawing birds expressively really suits their nature.

I start all my charcoal drawings the same way, using a big stick charcoal I mark with a very light touch the main shadow area. I don’t worry at all about outlines or whether it’s a head or a foot I am purely looking for large shadow areas. These initial marks are very important. Whilst I may add more charcoal as I go along, I don’t remove these initial marks. This is what makes the drawing expressive and loose, they are my most instinctive marks and I tend to over-exaggerate more than rein them in.

Next, I switch to one of the charcoal sticks, normally the soft charcoal sharpened to a point. This time I’m beginning to make measurements.  I’m working out the size of the head in relation to the body, roughly where the feet are and then darken more specific shadow areas – eyes, shadow under the beak, wings etc. The touch is still light, keeping it light means that anytime I can lift off the charcoal. I am also conscious of the main light areas, most of the time I will keep these clear and clean throughout the whole drawing. Everything is loose without any specific detail. I already know where my focus areas will be.  Mostly it is going to be the bird’s face but not always, sometimes it may be the wing pattern or movement. 

Once I’m satisfied, that I’ve identified the large dark areas I think about the mid-tones. Which part of the robin are neither dark nor light? These areas can be sketched in lightly with the charcoal or blended out of the dark areas using your fingers or a paper towel. Extending the charcoal from the dark shadows to the light areas is a great way of making soft edges. A blending stick or tortillon can be used around small areas. Be careful not to rub the charcoal into the paper just yet, give yourself the chance to make changes if stepping back you feel proportions are not quite correct.

Back to the light areas, using the putty eraser lift out definite areas of light. I want to leave most of her tummy white. This is possible by hinting at the perimeters with light charcoal marks on the right-hand side.

Using a sharpened Nitram HB stick I’m working on the focus area which is her face. My other tools at this stage are a putty eraser, a small pencil eraser, a small blender. Now it’s working in small detail a combination of putting down charcoal, shaping it with blenders, lifting out the light parts with erasers until a point that I’m satisfied that I have captured the expression that I’m looking for.

The bottom half of the robin is interesting because I’m playing a game here with the viewer.  I need to let the viewer know that the robin is standing on legs, she’s quite plump, she’s got soft plumage etc. In other words its got to look convincing yet not drawing too much attention, it’s an area that can be regarded later, it’s the expression on her face that’s got to grab the headlines.

The final drawing is complete when I can take it no further. It’s a temptation when drawing to keep tweaking away and adding more and more detail but when your drawing represents what you were hoping to achieve then it’s time to stop. Tidy up any smudges around the outside and a quick spray with charcoal fixative.

See more of Paulette's work in the PaintersOnline gallery by clicking here. Or visit her website, www.cricketandotheranimals.co.uk


How to paint a wayside verge in watercolour with Carole Robson

Landscapes are not just about panoramas – verges, edges and other liminal areas offer endless inspiration. A cropped or close-up view is another approach. Here, the portrait format emphasizes the structural, vertical plants such as the lavatera and umbellifer seed heads.

When painting, don’t be enslaved by the under-drawing. Develop the marks you make into shapes – a touch of the side of the brush might suggest a leaf, or a seed head, so develop it into one by refining the shape with the tip of the brush or extending a stem from it.

Look for patterns of both colour and tone. The patterns should lead your eye around the painting, not keeping it in one place. The red flowers are the focal points.


You will need:

Paints: aureolin yellow, tropical phthalo blue, permanent rose, quinacridone magenta

Acrylic ink: burnt sienna

Brushes: size 12 round

Surface: 35 x 50cm (13¾ x 19¾in) watercolour paper 300gsm (140lb)

Other materials: 2B pencil and eraser, gummed tape, sponge, toothbrush, ruling pen, masking fluid, palette knife, colour shaper, water sprayer, cocktail stick


Preliminary sketch

It’s a good idea to do a preliminary sketch before starting to paint in order both to work out the colours needed and to loosen up with some washes and mark making.


1. Prepare your watercolour paper by stretching it, then set your board up at roughly forty five degrees. Use a 2B pencil to make the initial sketch.


2. Pick up some masking fluid on your palette knife and apply it to the surface using the edge of the knife in long, near-vertical strokes at the top of the painting.


3. While it remains wet, spray the lines with your water spray.

4. Continue adding gestural lines of masking fluid with the edge of the knife around the middle and bottom of the painting. Don’t worry if you spill a few drops of masking fluid on the surface – these can simply be rubbed away once dry.

5. Use the colour shaper to mask the lavatera flowers.

6. For more controlled, fine lines (such as on the fine umbellifer stems and seed heads), change to the ruling pen.

7. Use the toothbrush to lightly spatter the surface with masking fluid, using the same technique as for spattering.

8. Add heavier spatters with the painting knife.


9. While the masking fluid dries, prepare wells of the following colours: a mauve mix of quinacridone magenta and tropical phthalo blue; a yellow-green mix of aureolin yellow and tropical phthalo blue; and a blue-green of the same colours, but with more tropical phthalo blue.


10. Lightly spray the top part of the painting, then pick up the mauve mix on the painting knife and draw it down through the area a few times to add loose, out-of- focus lavatera.


11. Use the side of the size 12 round brush to wet the top central area, then add some of the mauve mix into the wet area. Create a ’start’ by painting the surface with open gestural marks, using the mauve mix very diluted down. Leave lots of gaps in this underpainting, and make sure to create a little visual imbalance by using slightly less diluted paint on the right-hand side.

12. Use the water spray to push the wet paint into interesting shapes, and then allow to dry.

13. Turn the board upside-down, then load the size 12 round brush with the blue-green mix. Using a flicking motion while holding the brush at arm’s length, add some long directional spattering marks. Open up and soften the marks a little with the spray bottle. Try to avoid the poppies.

14. Turn the board around again. Build up some stem and foliage shapes across the top left-hand side of the painting by applying clean water with different parts of the size 12 round brush – the tip, side and whole body of the brush – plus the spray bottle. Work into the wet areas with the yellow-green mix (aureolin yellow and tropical phthalo blue), touching the paint into the water with the brush. Avoid the poppies, but be sure to cover the umbellifers. Use a variety of brush strokes to make different marks; don’t be afraid to spatter the paint on either.


15. Allow the painting to dry – use a hairdryer to speed this up, if necessary; it’s important that each area is completely dry before moving on. Add some stems with the edge of the palette knife and the blue-green mix, then build up the suggestion of leaves, stems and buds using the blue-green mix and a similar variety of mark-making brush strokes as for the yellow-green.

16. Use a clean cocktail stick to suggest veining on the leaves by gently creating indentations for the paint to run into.


17. Vary the tone of the blue-green mix by adding more tropical phthalo blue as you work – this helps prevent the area becoming monotone and flat. Similarly, use the spray bottle to open up the wet paint in some larger leaves.


18. Prepare a well of tropical phthalo blue and add a few drops of burnt sienna acrylic ink to make a dark mix.


19. Start to add some warm areas using burnt sienna acrylic ink. Apply it with the edge of the palette knife – or the tip of the dropper – for long stems, and with the clean wet size 12 round brush for larger areas. Use the spray and flick technique with the spray bottle and palette knife for further textural variety.


20. Swapping between the blue-green and dark mixes, build up the impression of dense foliage and texture using the dark mix. Use the washing out technique – paint a large leaf, allow to dry a little, then spray it with the water spray and dab it with kitchen paper. Some of the outline will remain while most of the inner part is lifted out, giving a subtle appearance.


21. Make a strong purple mix of quinacridone magenta with a little tropical phthalo blue, and build up the dark textures on the lower right-hand side.

22. Prepare a well of permanent rose, then use the size 12 round brush to paint the main poppies. Use the side of the brush to create the shape of the poppies as simply as possible – don’t try to paint individual petals. Using the dry-in-wet technique, draw folds into the poppy petals with the tip of the brush and a strong, creamy mix of permanent rose.

23. Make a deep purple mix of permanent rose and tropical phthalo blue. Touch this in at the visible centres of the poppies. In order to tie this colour into the rest of the painting, and avoid the poppies standing out too much, we need to add some additional permanent rose elsewhere in the image. Use spattering and the spray and flick techniques to add a few little hints.

24. Mix some of the burnt sienna acrylic ink into the permanent rose. Use this rusty mix to warm and enrich the lower central part of the painting with the tip of the brush. Allow the painting to dry completely, then use your ball of dried masking fluid to remove all of the masking fluid from the painting.

25. Prepare more of the mauve mix (quinacridone magenta and tropical phthalo blue)and make a stronger mix from the same colours for the stigma. Starting from the top of the painting, start to paint the lavatera flowers. Leaving small highlights of clean paper, use the tip of the brush to paint two or three petals at a time wet in wet.


26. Touch in the mauve mix at the tip and centre of each petal, so that a highlight is left in the centre, then draw a dry cocktail stick through to indicate veins.

27. Paint the remaining petals in the same way, then use the strong mix to add the central stigmas, applying the paint with the tip of a cocktail stick.

28. Paint the other lavatera flowers in the same way. Add variety by painting the veins with the strong stigma mix and the cocktail stick instead of simply using the tip to press into the paper.


29. Add stems using a deep-green mix of tropical phthalo blue with a little aureolin yellow and a little permanent rose. Lightly mist the area with the water spray, then use the point of the size 12 round brush to pull out the shapes of the buds and the small leaves.

30. Develop the stems with the spray and flick technique and the brush; plus the spattering technique with the palette knife.

31. Add burnt sienna ink to aureolin yellow paint to make a brown mix. Adjust the ruling pen to a fine width, then load it with the paint. Use this to draw in very fine lines and paint the umbellifer.

32. Combine some of the mauve and brown mixes and use this with the size 12 round brush to paint the seed heads.


33. Add the poppy stems with the tip of the size 12 round and the deep-green mix. Aim for a wavering shape and a fairly even width to the line. Add occasional small leaves if there is space. To finish, use the darker mixes on our palette to add some touches around the painting to balance it.


Finished Painting


This demonstration is taken from Carole's new book, Painting Expressive Landscapes, published by Search Press

Click here to purchase youyr copy for just £12.99, saving £2 on the rrp.


Life drawing with Eddie Armer – a simple pose and how to draw a hand

Below is a demonstration of my thought process in order to capture the pose, from life, on to paper. Life drawing is as much about observation as honing your drawing skills, so before starting to draw, spend a few moments studying the pose and its characteristics – the angle of the shoulders, how the body’s weight is distributed and any foreshortening. There is always an element of foreshortening in any pose, for example in this pose the right foot is seen face-on and foreshortened and the left foot also has a slight foreshortening.

There is a symmetry to the human form and we all have the same basic body proportions. Without getting too entrenched in Leonardo’s theories and calculations, use the length of the head as a unit of measure and keep at the back of your mind that seven heads fit into an erect figure, and that the tips of the fingers dangle mid-way along the thigh when an arm is relaxed.


1. We need to anchor the drawing, placing it within our sheet of paper. Draw or imagine a central line vertically running through the figure. Next, place a mark to indicate the top of the head (A) and another at the foot of the drawing (B). The third mark (C) is the chin position and defines the size of the head, which in this upright pose, remember, will fit seven times in to the overall length of the body. By placing these marks on the vertical line, you have now fixed the drawing within the page and defined the scale, forming the basis of a grid to build upon.


2. Draw or imagine a second line running horizontally through the vertical line, halfway down (D). This halfway point lies just above the pubis region (the lower front of the hip bone). Your grid is now complete and you can start to construct your drawing. I have also added further guidelines indicating the angle of the shoulders and the facial features. Lightly draw in the remainder of the figure by placing marks at key points and joining them up. Use your eyes to measure, not a ruler. Do not draw in any features yet. Check that you have not drawn the head or shoulders too narrow or too wide by comparing the width against your unit of measure – the length of the head.


3. Work over the whole drawing, adjusting and measuring as you proceed. This construction method of drawing enables you to amend as you progress before committing.


4. Once you are satisfied with the drawing in terms of composition, start refining your line and be aware of even the slightest contours in the body. Use the vertical line as a guide to check, for example, how far the knees are from the line.


5. When all is looking correct, bring the drawing to life by strengthening your line and suggesting form. For example, to give the breast weight, I have used a heavier line, and I have also drawn heavier lines at the points of tension.


Finished drawing


How to draw a hand

Here I will take you through a simple step-by-step exercise in drawing a hand from life. Choose your medium; here I have used a ballpoint pen, but you may prefer to use an HB or 2B pencil on cartridge paper. Do not draw too small, as this makes it harder to get the details accurate. This drawing was made at just under life size. Make sure that the light cast is interesting and gives both shadow and highlights before starting your drawing.


1. For this particular hand pose, I started by indicating the angle of the knuckle, forefinger and upper hand with lightly drawn guidelines as a basis for our grid. Do not be too heavy-handed at this stage and use faint lines that can be easily erased or will merge in with the drawing as it builds up and develops. For the purpose of this demonstration I have drawn the lines in heavily for clarity.


2. Next, box in what you can see of the remainder of the hand, the fingers and the thumb. Measuring as you go along, using methods explained earlier, will help you make the proportions and the distance between fingers accurate. Measuring is always a prickly issue with artists, as most do not like doing it, but it is a way of training your eye and brain. Even the most skilled eye can make a mistake, so work to a grid, either drawn or in your mind's eye.


3. Working with a light touch so that your pencil or pen line is quite faint, build up the structure by adding the finger divisions, joints and nails. At this point you can still amend and adjust your drawing. There is no such thing as a straight line when drawing the human form, so no matter how subtle the contours are, try to capture them using the box lines you drew earlier as a guide. For instance, ask yourself whether the detail you are drawing falls within the box or crosses the line?


4. When you are happy with the proportions you have drawn, start to add strength to the lines and define the detail. Note the variation in the weight of the line that I have used to help give the drawing form and substance.


5. Finally, by applying shading, create tone, giving depth to your drawing.


Read more from Eddie in his Beginner's Guide to Life Drawing, published by Search Press

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