Our thanks to Rick Holmes for providing an entertaining and hugely informative demonstration of Pastels.
Working from a photo, Rick produced a picture of a boat and mooring set in a water/woodland landscape. His choice of base was a piece of mountboard, which he had primed on both sides with diluted Colourfix Pastel Primer. Coating on both sides stops the card from warping. Rick passed round examples of several pastel papers and explained that some of the coarser papers (like Fisher 400) demand a heavier application of pastel and can be hard on the hands.
To start the picture, he used a two inch hard roller to add a loose but vivid coloured base painting with four acrylic inks (Red Earth, Magenta, Prussian Blue and Yellow Ochre) and allowed them to dry. A line drawing of the subject was then added using white pastel. When working from photos, a useful tip is to use a piece of board that is the same size-ratio as the photo and to draw a cross on the centre point of both surfaces. This helps to ensure the line drawing follows the same proportions as the photograph. He then filled in the pastel colours, keeping the marks loose to create texture and avoiding blending except for water and reflections. The aim of these mainly unblended techniques was to keep the pigments fresh. He recommended using fingers or torchons to create smooth areas. Blending tools can also be improvised from foam-based plastic such as packing materials and pipe insulation tubing. He turned the painting upside down to add the sky to keep dust to a minimum. Rick kept the board upright throughout so that the pastel dust would not “muddy” the picture and would fall down into a ledge he had made made with card and masking tape. Fixatives are not recommended because they tend to make the pigments dull. To transport the work he attaches Glassine paper sheets with masking tape. When framing pastel pictures, it is important to avoid the work touching the glass, either a gutter-mount should be used or a line of tape applied to the inside of the mount to keep this separation. Any dust will then fall into the gutter without discolouring the mount.
Our first two Studio meetings in 2023 saw the welcome return of Julie King.
Using pencil, pen and watercolours, Julie showed us how to paint the kind of rustic doorways to be found in Mediterranean climates, where colourful flowers decorate the walls and pots. Starting with a simple light pencil drawing, permanent pen marks were added to outline and indicate some of the important elements. Wet on wet technique was applied to add colour. This technique involves dampening the watercolour paper then dropping paint into the damp areas to create soft washes and edges. Some elements of the picture were left to dry and then painted wet on dry to give more definition to selected details such as tree trunks. For the second session Julie demonstrated another doorway with geraniums, wet on dry and then adding pen work after the painting was finished. Good tips for achieving a looser effect were to work quickly, overlaying colours wet on wet using a flat brush and using both water-soluble and permanent pens to get a variety of effects. These two demos were a well timed reminder of sunny scenes to brighten up a very gloomy January.
Richard Heyes described and demonstrated his unique approach to abstract painting. His inspiration comes from landscapes and colour is his passion. His medium of choice is Golden Fluid Acrylic paint and he uses squeegee printing tools in preference to brushes. He recommended Catalyst wedges as being the most useful.
Richard's paintings aim to be both spiritual and mysterious – portraying otherworldly scenes that draw in the viewer and stimulate the imagination. His technique involves spreading and scraping away layers of opaque and transparent paints over pre-painted card using printing tools and plastic cards (such as old credit cards) which are held at various angles from upright to flat. Adding a masking tape handle to the back of a plastic card makes it easier to grip the card while changing the angles. Spraying with water helps to produce variety in the blended and patterned textures. Experimentation is the key. Other useful tips were to pick colours that give a strong tonal contrast: dark/light and cool/warm. Our thanks to Richard for sharing his ideas and techniques with our group.
After a short talk about the origins of Cubism, local artist Alison Berry took us through a practical step-by-step approach for producing our own Cubist picture based on a selection of prepared tabletop still life displays, using charcoal, pastels and paper. The method involved overlaying multiple outlines of selected objects, depicted from different viewpoints, angles, sizes and perspectives before adding a few connecting lines across the paper to give the picture a fragmented appearance. Areas within the resulting spaces were then filled in using a variety of colouring techniques and pigments. Our thanks to Alison for a most unusual and enjoyable session.
November saw a welcome return by landscape artist Stephen Hawkins. Stephen is a highly accredited artist who was awarded the title ‘Artist of the Year’ by The Society of All Artists in 2015. During two sessions, Stephen demonstrated how to create a pastoral scene applying techniques that can be used in either oils or acrylics. The first session covered the use of a limited pallet to produce an underpainting. He explained that while most of the underpainting will be hidden, the emotions and energy should show through in the quality of the brush marks. In the second session Stephen worked in thicker paint, showing how to add texture, detail and atmosphere.
Stephen gave us some very useful tips such as taking several photographs of the scenes you want to paint (from slightly different angles) to bring out different points of interest. He also surprised us by advising that vegetable oil could be used to clean oil paints from brushes.
Katharine Jennings gave us two sessions on composition and how to capture light in an abstract painting of a Cornish sunset.
She reminded us that landscape paintings need points of interest that draw the viewers’ eyes around the piece. The traditional “rule of thirds” is one method. A starting point for painting is to lay down a base in burnt umber defining the darkest areas. Turning to colour, Katharine paints her big skies first as these are the source of light and affect everything in a painting, especially reflections on water. Tips included using big brushes and rotating them to produce hard and soft edges and a palette knife to create texture and advance colour mixing.
Our autumn season of Studio Sessions started on 23 September with the welcome return of Graham Lock.
Graham gave us a fascinating practical demonstration of watercolour techniques, materials and tips, producing several pictures of trees as examples. His talk covered colour mixing and layering, paper and brush types and how to avoid some of the pitfalls commonly encountered with watercolours. For example - using transparent pigments to avoid "mud mixing" and layering thick paint onto thin to avoid cauliflowers. A good start to our season.
Saturday 30 April 2022 - Exhibition
We would like to say a big thank you to everybody who took the time to visit our exhibition and to all those people who worked behind the scenes to ensure its success.
This year we were able to hold our annual art exhibition and sale again at the All Saints Hall, Chapel Green, Crowborough after a three year gap. This was our first exhibition since 2019 because of Covid. The public exhibition was a one day event and the weather was gloriously sunny and warm. Several hundred members of the public came, including families with children. We received a lot of encouraging feedback about the high quality of our work as well as how well the event had been organized. Many people mentioned that the day was very enjoyable with a lively atmosphere helped along by a buzz created by our café and our competition for votes for the public’s favourite painting.
With 26 members entering work, there were around 180 paintings for sale, with 15 sold on the day. We also had stands selling second hand art books, original cards and art materials, raising some much needed money for our group. The public vote for their favourite painting was won by Chris Green for his painting on black canvas ‘Wildwood Night’. Richard Appleby came close second with a beautiful painting of a woodland walk. Nearly all of our membership was involved in the planning, mounting and stewarding of the exhibition and many thanks to everyone for their hard work.
An enticing view of Alfriston church nestling in a verdant Sussex landscape was the subject of our first watercolour tutorial of 2021. Professional artist Jackie Hurwood took us through a step by step approach, giving guidance about colour palette, brushes, materials and useful techniques for producing the painting from start to finish.
Studio session with Jackie Hurwood
Studio session with Katharine Jennings
Friday 1 October was a big day on our calendar because it marked our first studio session after an eighteen month break because of Covid restrictions. We were pleased to welcome local professional artist Katharine Jennings, who gave us a practical tutorial on portrait painting using the Zorn palette. The Zorn Palette is named after the late 19th Century Swedish artist, Anders Zorn. The palette consists of only four colours: Yellow Ochre, Ivory Black, Vermillion (or Cadmium Red) and titanium white. Surprisingly versatile and especially suited to portraits.
A big thank you to Gail & Andrew for allowing us to invade their lovely garden and art studio for our 2019 annual garden party at the beginning of July. The weather could not have been nicer and a good time was had by all.
We would like to thank everybody who attended and supported our annual exhibition and sale of work at All Saints Hall, Crowborough on 4 May 2019. Once again, this year's event was a great success with more than 140 framed paintings on show. It was very well attended with 14 paintings sold and dozens of the artists’ own cards. There were home made cakes for sale – all sold out – as well as second hand art books and art materials. We ran a café all day and so the atmosphere was very relaxed with people bringing their children or bumping into their friends and staying to enjoy what was on offer.
During the day, visitors were invited to vote for their favourite painting. Prizes were awarded at the end of the day and the winning pictures with their artists are pictured here.
All Saints Hall, Chapel Green - the venue for our annual exhibitions
Chris: with "Wildwood Moon"
Sheila: with "Thunder"
Doreen : with "Penny Pairs"
Here is a collection of photos featuring some of our other exhibitions, events and some of the people involved . . .
Thanks to John & Penny for hosting our 2018 Summer Garden Party.