Some brief notes that some up the talk by David. The session was highly enjoyable, informative and enjoyed by the members.
* Born in an age of political rebellion in Europe and Religious change. The Netherlands gained independence from Spain and divided into a Protestant nation in the North and a Catholic country in Flanders
* Artists faced a crisis in the North as the puritan style religion did not want so much decoration in its churches. Artists had to develop new genres such as seascapes, still life pictures, domestic scenes and more and more portraits.
* Rembrandt's full name was Rembrandt Harmeszoom (son of Harmes) Leidon(from the town of) or Rembrandt Harmeszoon Van Rijn (by the river Rhine) His father owned a windmill.
* In his first studio his work was admired by the secretary to the Prince of Orange. He made a name for himself painting portraits that were sent all over Europe.
* His next studio was in Amsterdam.
* Married Saskiatha daughter of a burghermaster, in 1634. A big step up in status. First 3 children died before reaching the age of 2.
*Painted for the whole Amsterdam community: -Jews, Baptists, Mennonites Calvinists and Catholics. He could then paint religious subjects like Carravagio and paint portraits like Titian.
* Highly successful and bought a large studio. Lived extravagantly, painting group photographs of Civic groups including the famous Night Watch.
* 1642 Saskia died 9 months after son Titus was born. In her will half her money was left to Titus. She also stipulated that Rembrandt should not remarry. Because he missed home life so much he was able to put a good deal more humanity into portraits than anyone else had managed to do.
* Lived with a housekeeper and this shocking behaviour caused Calvinist custom to drift away.
* Unpaid debts forced him out of his studio and into bankruptcy. Lived with Hendrichije Stoffels and Titus.
* In later life he lost his son and Hendrichije Stoffels so that his later life was lived out in penury, painting self portraits.
Background on the Local Champion
Name : Stephen David Charles Surtees.
Born : Salford
Rank : 8th Dan Hanchi. Professor of Martial Sciences.
Style : Shoto Ryu under Sensei Yoshio Kimura Soke, direct lineage toGichin Funakoshi.
Other style : Shito Ryu, (Shukokai).
Other arts studied : BJJ under Tony Delany 8th Dan Hanshi, under Rick> Young & The Machado Brothers. Filipino Arts under Tony Delany & Dan Inosanto.
Accomplishments : Kumite, Double WUKF World Champion. WUKF European Champion, 15 times KYK National Champion, British SKU Open Champion. England International, Ex GB International.
A good turn out from members and fascinating evening sketching Stephen, which produced some excellent results. Stephen even asked to take a few home with him.
It is always nice to welcome back Paul for a demonstration. These are always informative and given in a very professional way.
Paul is always looking out for images to paint. He looks for patterns that come together and how the lights and darks relate; only ever doing one off paintings.
He draws his picture out lightly, using a 6b pencil and then uses a piece of equipment( see picture below) to check his measurements.
He starts with the lightest values, using Ceruleum Blue and Naples Yellow for the sky, needing to get the strength of the colour right as it dries lighter. He then works on the background using Yellow Ochre and Burnt Sienna , adding a little Sap Green for the grass areas.
Then, slowly working his way down the paper, he adds all the lights, generating a variety of colours, before adding Cobalt Blue for the shadows. He then dries this with a hair dryer.
Paul works on one big shape at a time, starting with the distant hills by spraying the area and using Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna and a little Violet.
Next, the buildings are added, using Cobalt Blue and Burnt Sienna. With the front of the building, he uses slightly drier paint so it doesn't fuse with the wet colours.
Now, he is ready to start to work his way down the picture building up colour, shape and volume adjusting the colours as he proceeds.
Next he works on the dark wall using Windsor Blue, Violet and a little Burnt Sienna; always drawing with the brush which allows him more freedom, before breaking up some of the darks with a splash of water.
After finishing blocking- in, he starts to add details, with his preferred Squirrel Mop brush,. The wall on the right is completed and the lower shadow added. Thick paint is added into wet paint to get dark, soft shapes.
Paul is now at the refinement and alteration stage.
First, he adds detail to the wall, sketching with the brush, keeping the strokes loose, so as not to lose the flow of the painting. All these marks are dark, as he will add tones when these dry. This time adding dark colours before lights.
Now, he's at the stage where details can be added, such as the windows on the farmhouse, which are painted using a little White Gouache and Ceruleum Blue. Posts and poles are added using the white with a little Yellow Ochre. As well as splashing the wall with water, he later splashes it with a little of the White and Ceruleum Blue to add extra texture.
Finally, he stands back to look at the painting before adding a few final touches. The next day he will look at it, with fresh eyes. and decide on any slight adjustments , if they are needed.
Unfortunately, because of the lighting in the screen the colours are a little washed out in this slideshow, but in the final picture shown below, you can see the superb use of colours clearly.
Another impressive evening with lots of useful tips and an excellent picture, which was completed in about an hour and a half. We look forward to his next demonstration, as they are always an enjoyable and interesting experience.
Judith started by explaining a little of the history of 'Brusho,' which was originally used as a fabric dye before artists starting using it for paintings.
Brusho allows you to create visually stunning, expressive artwork with the minimum of fuss. It's fun to use, beginner-friendly and ideal if you want to learn how to create very contemporary, very striking images to hang on your wall or even sell. Because it's so loose and expressive, it can be faster to learn than traditional watercolour painting.
It comes in small tubs and can last a long time. Some artists dip the brush in but Judith has made a small hole in the top of the tub and sprinkles the amount she requires on the paper.
It can be used in many ways; spray and sprinkle, sprinkle and spray or like a watercolour. Judith started by sprinkling the powder on the paper and then spraying water on top. The first colour appeared to be blue but slowly changed into black, which was unusual. She then sprayed water onto the paper and sprinkled the colour into it, to show us the different effects that can be made. Wax can also be used, as a resist, to keep areas white and a diluted bleach solution can be used to lighten areas. Low tack masking tape can be used to mask off areas.
After showing us how the paint could be applied, she drew out a composition in pencil on a heavyweight Bockingford rough paper, before going over some lines with a marker so as to not loose them when the paint was applied.
Next, a few marks were made in the foliage with wax before starting on the sky. In a painting such as this with a busy foreground she likes a simple sky and applied this as a watercolour wash with a brush. This was left to dry over the break.
Turquoise, Leaf Green, Purple and Yellow are sprinkled over the paper and then sprayed. Using the same colours the roof is applied and the windows are painted with the purple.
As each area dries, she starts to add darks with a brush. This is similar to using watercolour paints; keeping the brushwork loose and adding shadows where needed. She wants the outside foliage to be like a window to the building.
As more sections dry, she starts to add detail and highlights. Then she looks closer and decides the roof is too dark and demonstrates how to use the bleach solution to lighten it. Shadows are then added to the building where needed.
Wanting lots of texture she continues to work on the foreground until she runs out of time.
A fascinating introduction into this medium, by Judith, who always gives us lots of interesting facts and tips to improve our paintings.
Danny started the evening with a brief history of Conte Crayons.
He added that Conte is best used on courser paper. These type of crayon are also suitable for adding water to. Although, there were originally only three colours, by the time Degas was using them, there were many more colours. Nowadays, there are about 72 colours. Conte Crayons were an ideal medium for Degas, as being harder than pastels, he could get outlines where he needed them. At times, they also look like paintings.
At this point, we were set our first task, which was to draw Arturo Di Medici's statue of a bull that stands outside the New York Stock Exchange. We had ten minutes to do this, just using white, black and sanguine crayons to try and get a 3-dimensional shape.
This proved to be an interesting first attempt and for some reason when I photographed them the background paper looks brown instead of blue.
After the break, Danny showed us examples of several other artists' and their use of Conte Crayon including some studies by Seurat for one of his paintings. Here he explained how subtle variations in shade can be achieved.
We then looked at a Surrealist artist, Marion Adams. We were told that she spent a year drawing all of her pupils and became very proficient with pencil, but when she tried painting the figures, this skill did not come as easily.
Instead, she started using Conte crayons when drawing paper models before using these images in her finished paintings.
This was our next task; to draw one of these paper figures that Danny had brought with him.
This proved to be an interesting task and, after our earlier practice, a quite successful one. I'm not sure how many of us will start using Conte Crayons but it was fascinating to see what could be achieved with them.
Another excellent evening at the club led by a knowledgeable and helpful artist.
Mavis started by showing us a picture of the Mona Lisa, probably the most famous and visited portrait in the world. Looking closely at the picture she pointed out that the two sides of the face had slightly different expressions. This is one of the things that adds interest to the picture.
Art books can show simple templates for drawing faces but Mavis explained that the problem with these are that nobody has a standard face and these would not help you get a good likeness. Also, faces around the world can vary quite a lot. Her example of an Inuit child's face, shows how living conditions can influence the features, such as having a small nose to stop frostbite. Whereas a painting by Albrecht Durer shows a typical European face
Next, Mavis showed an example of an Egyptian face, where the profile was from the side but the eye was from the front. This is also used by Disney and other cartoonists to allow them to show the most recognisable features of the face.
Mavis explained that the problem when doing faces is that you are trying to show curves on a flat surface.
Next, we were shown examples of where artists, such as Picasso, had done a lot of work showing features at different angles, which is another interesting concept.
After discussing the idea of individual elements of the face, we were shown how different skin tones effected the painting of faces. Mediterranean painters tended to use a green underpainting, whereas 18th Century European artists used a blue underpainting. She suggested a dark red or violet underpainting for African portraits.
As she moved on, we were shown how cuteness could be portrayed in paintings. One way of doing this is by shortening the lower part of the face. and having slightly bigger eyes, as in the portrait of a child.
We then looked at idealised faces. Early Greek statues had a sameness about them, with a grin on their faces, before more realistic images became the norm.
This lead on to looking at what people perceived as positive beauty in faces; often these are symmetrical, which in reality is a rarity. Examples of these were: Robert Redford and Elizabeth Taylor.
This lead back to the start of the talk, where, by using templates, you are more likely to finish up with symmetrical faces, which is not often true.
We were then shown examples of self portraits and how artists saw themselves; which often proved to be very honest and not very flattering. Examples of these are Rembrandt, Frida Kahlo and Van Gogh.
As a contrast to this, Raphael's self portrait, gives him an angelic look.
Finally, we were shown different ways expressions can be shown in faces . Examples of this were: The Laughing Cavalier, The Scream and Marilyn Monroe.
To end the talk, Mavis returned to the first picture of The Mona Lisa, which fascinates so many people, often not knowing why. They can't quite work out what she is thinking. Is she happy or sad?
This, she believes, sums up our fascination with faces and ended a fascinating talk by an entertaining and knowledgeable artist. I think we all learnt something new and it has opened our eyes to look more closely at any future portraits that we paint.
Les explained how he trained as a technical and Scientific Illustrator, and having freed himself of the technical preciseness of a photo realistic painting, he now paints expressively and creatively; producing paintings that are based on feeling, light, energy and movement. This all started after he was bought a set of pastels, as a Christmas present, and realised the potential of these.
He likes to grade his pastels by the level of hardness, in a similar way to pencils and would like companies to do the same. For the demonstration he would be using Pan Pastels, as these are very pure and can be mixed like paint with special micro sponges. These also rub out easily with a rubber,
David had been to the gallery earlier in the day to do some sketches and take some photographs, in preparation for this demonstration. He chose one of these images to paint tonight.
His canvas had been prepared with an Umber wash, which acts as a neutral background. He uses a limited palette of about six colours, including Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Prussian Blue, White and Black.
The painting was started using White, to pick out the highlights, before moving on to a blue grey mix. He squints to see the tones needed. He says he uses acrylic like watercolour, at this stage, to make it lighter, and painting quite fast at first.
A smaller brush is used next, a bit like a pencil to draw in shapes. He draws in the chairs using a dark colour, letting this dry before working on it again. He says not to be too wary of mistakes at this stage, as you can always work on them later.
At this stage, a mirror would be used to see the image from a different perspective.
Next, a subtle colour is used to paint the walls. He mixes a little Raw Sienna with White to reduce the harshness, before using it on the painting. Continuing to bring out the highlights, he looks for the reflections on the tables and chairs etc. He likes to give people something in a painting to think about and likes a theatrical feel to his work.
Details are now added and the painting starts to come together. He emphasizes that he likes to use Black, whereas some artists prefer to mix a dark colour. Next, a little weak Prussian Blue is added to certain areas, give the painting character so that it doesn't appear flat.
As he works on the tones, he uses the same colour, in several areas, to ensure a unified composition.
The painting is then turned upside down, as this helps to see any areas that still need work on them.
After turning it back, he is at the stage where he can't do much more on it. This is fortunate, as it is nearly time to finish. In his studio he would probably add blue washes and more glazes on it.
An excellent and informative demonstration appreciated by the members. David is very knowledgeable about the use of paint. As well as telling us about his technique, his anecdotes of art history was impressive , as he regaled us with several interesting facts as he worked.
A record of Wednesday evening activities.