July 2020

Here are some ideas to paint this month, if you’re struggling for subjects. Please send any paintings you do to me (Tracy) by email, WhatsApp, Messenger or text, on the mobile number I have emailed to you previously. Don’t forget to tell me the medium, paper used, the inspiration, how long it took etc.

If none of these ideas take your fancy, then paint something else and send it to me, we’d love to see what you’re painting at the mo. A lot of members haven’t been heard from since March, 4 months ago, what are you painting?

Portrait Artist of the Month (PAOTM)Dame Vera Lynn

If you’re missing the weekly Portrait Artist sessions then here’s an idea, but you can take longer that 4 hours! We’ve chosen someone you will all know and who was in the news on the 70th anniversary of VE Day in May and again last month, following her death at the amazing age of 103.

Dame Vera started her professional singing career at just 7 years old and performed throughout her long life. We won’t provide the same picture for everyone, you can source your own from the internet or from a newspaper, books etc. Any medium, any style, a quick sketch, a painting in colour or black and white, your choice. Send your pictures with info and at the end of the month they will be put on the blog together.

July flower – Delphinium

Paint them from your garden or paint anything that’s in flower at the moment.

July birthstone – Ruby

Paint rubies in jewellery, in Mughal paintings, in the Crown Jewels, in Russian Imperial Eggs, ruby-coloured cherries etc. Paint anything at all but in a monochrome ruby colour such as alizarin crimson.

Painting together in June

Several members joined in our session at the weekend and were very creative indeed, well done one and all!

The suggested ideas were Charles Dickens, roses and pearls, or anything at all you wanted to paint.

Doreen used an old copy of a local magazine for her reference picture of Charles Dickens. She drew his portrait, added a little colour on his eyes and lips and has achieved a good likeness.

Christine used watercolour and pen for her very detailed paintings. Firstly there is The Old Curiosity Shop and her second picture is of Joe Clayton Clarke, known as Joe from Bleak house.

Peter painted a portrait of Charles Dickens himself. The background texture of the linen weave adds an extra dimension to the picture.

Susan has beautifully painted two roses in her garden, from a choice of 21 rose bushes. The first is Jude the Obscure, an English Shrub rose. It is chalice shaped and has a very strong fruity fragrance, the loveliest scented rose there is.

This is Arthur Bell, a floribunda rose with a medium, sweet fragrance. Both in watercolour, with subtle colours and tiny details, they look so real you could lean forward to inhale the fragrance.

Denise has been making masks for family and friends so really enjoyed sitting down on Saturday and doing something for herself. She had a lovely day. Her detailed monochrome picture of a lily is done in ink. She used a Noodler’s pen and ink, a fountain pen and ink manufactured in the USA but available in the UK too.

Ruth has been very busy, creating three pictures. The red rose in watercolour she has called “In Loving Memory”, bought in memory of her grandmother.

This next picture is in pastels, of roses in her garden and then a painting of a barrage balloon in WWII.

Juliet took part in an online session (please see a previous post for more info) about Kandinsky. The coloured shapes are made with ink and crayon.

Steve painted roses in watercolour en plein air in his garden. Adding the darker background has really made the roses look 3D. He also took some photos in Cobham and has painted The Leather Bottle in a sepia colour. It looks like one can step into the painting in Victorian attire and walk along the High Street.

Tracy managed to keep her new apron clean all day whilst painting 3 pictures :o) All are 7″ x 5″ on Saunders Waterford rough watercolour paper. She and her family had the pleasure of staying at Bleak House 2 years ago when it was a B&B, having the 3 bedrooms at the top of the building. It was shut as a B&B last year but if it ever opens again they’d all love to stay again.

Also painted are Pip’s Graves at St.James’ Church in Cooling and some roses growing over an arch in a garden.

Sky Arts PAOTW week 9 – Sunday 21st June 2020

Firstly a big thank you to Cynthia, as she made us aware that these sessions would be going on every Sunday. We all thoroughly enjoyed the first 4 sessions and were thrilled when they were extended to 8 and then 9. From all the messages received this week we’re all very sad that they have now finished and we won’t know what to do on Sundays any more! It was incredible to be involved in a joint art experience, not just in the UK and Ireland, but artists joined in from most European countries, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and South and North America. It was a truly global collaboration. Tai got very emotional at the end of this final session and couldn’t keep his tears at bay, knowing something very special was ending, as we are slowly released from lockdown.

This week classicist, historian and documentary maker, Dame Mary Beard, was painted by PAOTY 2013 finalist, Selena Mowat, from her home in Germany. Selena was quiet and didn’t ask many questions of Mary, but the judges and Joan all asked many questions. Subjects included the Romans as portrayed in films, all wrong apparently, and Kate asked about the Roman goddess Juno, who her daughter is named after. Kathleen asked about older women in the media, both giving their own experiences of first being in front of the camera in their fifties. Joan and Mary reminisced about their times as undergraduates at Newnham College, Cambridge. Mary said this was only her second sitting for a portrait, the first being nude in one of the episodes in her documentary series called “Shock of the Nude” (it’s 3 interesting episodes about the nude in Western art). Mary also said she’d got really good at Zoom calls and sits there in a dressing gown but wearing her pearls, so no-one knows that she hasn’t bothered getting dressed. An interesting morning with lots of amusing anecdotes.

Selena paints on plywood boards that have had white acrylic stippled on them with a big brush so the surface is not smooth. She paints with oils and has 3 tear-off palettes on the go at the same time. One palette has white, lemon yellow, cadmium yellow and yellow ochre. The second palette has crimson and what she calls ‘normal’ red, which looked like cadmium red. The third palette has cerulean blue, cobalt blue, sap green and a ‘dark brown’ that looked like burnt umber. She uses large to small flat topped brushes (known as bright brushes), a fan brush and a small brush for details. Selena started with a pink background, then used darker mixes to block in the darker areas and got a good likeness of Mary within an hour.

The big decision for all of us was painting Mary with teeth or no teeth, as you can see from the photos above, and should we paint the hundreds of books or not? Here are our pictures…

Angela D took 4 hours to paint Mary in water mixable oils. She will add the books as a blurry background later.

Juliet drew Mary in pencils

Cynthia used pastels for her portrait

Susan did no drawing at all but went straight in with watercolours. Those books must have taken a long time.

Steve painted with watercolours on Bockingford paper

Dot drew Mary’s portrait in only 2 hours, changing from teeth to no teeth

Tracy sketched then decided to draw Mary smiling, in black biro, using grey coloured pencil for all the books, cobalt blue watercolour for the t-shirt and pearl coloured shiny watercolour for the pearl necklace. She had another go using watercolours but feels the eyes aren’t quite right.

Tai got very emotional at the end as he is so passionate about art, saying that in these bleak times it has been a slice of escapism on an international level.

“Art has the power to heal, the power to nurture people. Creativity really is the key to staying sane in this sometimes mad, mad world of ours. So well done to all of us. A nice surprise is the talent out there. Thank you so much for coming on a journey with us, we’ve really had a fantastic time. Stay safe, stay creative.”

Here are the judges top three paintings from the public and also Selena”s finished portrait of Mary.

Tracy’s finished paintings

I have been painting most days, keeping up with ideas from the three art groups I belong to, as well as the Sky PAOTW. I loathe housework as it’s boring and I don’t like gardening as it exacerbates my hay fever and asthma, so spending time painting is much better :o)

I recently posted a painting on Facebook of 3 chickens, from a photo on a free reference site for artists. A friend contacted me and asked if I could paint chicken portraits for her daughter’s 13th birthday, of her favourite chickens that they have at home in their garden. The Mum sent me lots of photos and also said I can use any as reference pictures in the future, which is great. It was very interesting to paint their individual combs and wattles (those red dangly bits under their beaks). Here, from front to back, are Dottie Lottie, Bourbon and Atherton.

Roses. Who knew painting roses could be so difficult? I thought they’d be a doddle, but have had a disaster trying to paint them wet in wet, they’ve been a soggy mess. Painting them quite dry hasn’t been much better, but at least I’ve used my Winsor and Newton Opera Rose tube of watercolour paint for the first time! I may try painting roses again, but round a doorway or over an arch.

These three paintings were done for Gravesend Art Group, of something in your garden, Africa and texture..

Last Saturday and Sunday mornings, for 2 hours each time, I took part in LAOTW…Landscape Artist of the Week. Our Sky box conked out last year and with the new Q box we got ‘VIP’ membership, whereby you can watch sports events and other things we’re not interested in. However, for one weekend only they have tried a painting session. It was fun to join in and I hope they will do more.

LAOTY winner 2017, Tom Voyce, guided us through a painting, assisted by Kathleen Soriano asking him questions about how he was painting and about his career. When Tom won in 2017 his prize was to go to Jamaica and paint at Noel Coward’s house ‘Firefly’. Whilst there he also took photos at Ian Fleming’s house, ‘Goldeneye’, and he chose a photo of the sunken garden there for us to paint.

Tom told us not to slavishly copy any photographs and he took out the flower pot in the foreground as he felt it distracted from the rest of the garden. I found the wall line too vertical and moved it to the right a little.

He started by preparing his 2 boards in Naples Yellow. I don’t have that colour in acrylics so I used an emulsion tester pot from B&Q in Lemon Ice. Tom prefers painting on smooth plywood as he often scratches the surface and goes through canvas. He also doesn’t like the springiness of canvas.

Tom used oil paints very thinly, using Zest It to give a runny texture, which also dried quickly. The next stages were underpainting in red, then using blue for the darker areas, then painting white in all the brighter places. After that came the cerulean stage for the sea and sky and then the yellow ochre stage. After that we kept building up all tones until the refining stage, where we painted the palm fronds and other little things like leaves and the fence.

It was interesting seeing how many layers were done, as oils are often painted on in one layer as they can take months to dry. Tom’s way of painting with thinner layers means he works on 2 boards at the same time, one drying as he works on the other.

The first photo also shows the image we worked from, that I sellotaped to the side of my computer monitor. Tom’s 2 paintings are the penultimate photo and the last photo is my painting. I hope there will be more sessions available to join in with.

Sky Arts PAOTW week 8 – Sunday 14th June 2020

We all tuned in for the last session of PAOTW and were pleased to hear that there will be another session next Sunday…hurrah!

For this penultimate week the sitter was rapper/songwriter/documentary maker Stephen Manderson aka Professor Green. He was painted by Tom Mead, PAOTY 2019 finalist.

Tom was a 2nd year uni student when PAOTW 2019 was filmed and by the time the programme was broadcast he was just leaving uni. That tv exposure has led to many commissions and he was pleased to say that the whole programme and judges have been very supportive of him.

For the portrait, Tom painted Stephen as he was seen on an iPad screen. A conscious decision so that Tom can look back and remember the portrait was painted while we were on lockdown. He used a green and 2B pencil then acrylics on a plastic plate. Nothing fancy he said and cheap paint because he can buy it in larger quantities. He used a red, white, raw umber (it looked like burnt umber actually) flesh tint, Wedgewood blue (a greyish blue) and parchment (a greyish green).

These two young men had an amazing conversation during the session. Talking about their own lives and also about writing, comics, music, horror films, illustration, and Stephen’s documentaries about child poverty, class divide and suicide. We learnt about Stephen’s tattoos and what he called the ‘incident’, when he was violently assaulted and bottled in the neck, a life changing experience, for which his assailant spent several years in jail. The word on his neck, tattooed only 2 weeks before he was attacked, is ‘Lucky’, which he certainly feels now. All in all a very interesting session and good to get to know someone who wasn’t well know by our members to start with.

During the session the judges explained how they choose the artists for PAOTY, by first looking at all the digital painting submissions, choosing their top 50 then meeting up to fight it out!

Tai said “It is hard for a lot of artists because art is not competitive by nature, because we don’t usually paint to beat anyone else, it’s about finding out about yourself. If there’s anyone to conquer then it’s yourself. Get out of your boundaries and experiment, get over yourself. And practice your drawing, it is the scaffolding of a picture.” Very good advice, Tai.

Here are our members’ pictures…

Steve used coloured pencils on Bockingford 340gsm paper for one portrait and watercolours on the same paper for the other.

Dot worked with graphite wash pencils and only took 2 hours to get her likeness of Stephen.

Susan did no drawing, apart from the tattoo, diving straight in with brushes and painting loosely. She says “I am grateful to last week’s artist (Aine Divine) for giving me the confidence to work like that.”

Juliet used pencils for her portrait.

Rosie has called her painting “Innocence, Anger, Wisdom”, the 3 ages of man. She has wanted to do a 3 age portrait for sometime and now has the confidence to do so. Watercolour on 300gsm 40cm x 40cm watercolour paper.

Cynthia used pastels for her portrait of Stephen.

Tracy was distracted by her husband going to the local cafe and bringing back not a prawn sandwich but a roast beef dinner. Very tasty it was too! She sketched Stephen looking down but then decided to do a watercolour of him looking up and then another of him smiling, in black biro with a green background, of course. Both on Hobbycraft’s own 300gsm watercolour paper in a spiral pad.

Here are the top three adult entries and Tom’s finished portrait. (I will add the top three youngster entries when I find them in the repeated session!)

Juliet’s pictures

Juliet has been very creative lately, not only doing the Sky Arts PAOTW every Sunday, but joining in online classes too. Her daughter introduced her to the classes run by Art Enthusiasts London and the London Drawing School. Juliet has been joining in online, along with her daughter and grandsons.

Google ‘Art Enthusiasts London’ and you can book classes through their Facebook page or Eventbrite. They cost about £7/£8 (children’s classes are a lot less) and there are different events for adults and children, there’s lots of choice. Look on their Facebook page under ‘events’ for all the classes to come in the next few weeks.

Juliet cut out the brightly coloured acrobats in the style of Matisse in a couple of minutes after looking at photos on the session…

Her portrait of Frida Kahlo took about 90 minutes and is painted in acrylics, finished off with pastels. They’re both so fabulous and colourful, Juliet, I hope you will show us more of your creations when you join in more classes!

Angela M’s Artwork

 Here are two pieces of artwork from Angela, one is in coloured pencil and was completed by following a demonstration on Art Tutor, an online art teaching resource. The other is a watercolour taken from a photo of bluebells in her garden. The colours are vivid and the lime looks very real. Well done Angela.

Sky Arts PAOTW week 7 – Sunday 7th June 2020

This week broadcaster/journalist/author, Clare Balding, was painted by PAOTY 2014 finalist, Aine Divine from her home in Scotland. (Her first name is pronounce ‘Onya’, if you were wondering.)

Clare sat quite still, compared to previous sitters, so it was easier to sketch from the live show, and although she did talk a lot her tales were very funny and interesting to hear. Most of us still preferred to continue working on our portraits afterwards from a screenshot.

Aine is a professional artist and uses many different mediums but does love to work in watercolour with big varnishing brushes and doesn’t sketch the person’s face first. She uses her watercolours thick, with lots of pigment, to give rich colour and doesn’t mind if the paints run. In fact she added splashes to Clare’s portrait with the colours she was using.

Aine used an Imperial size sheet of 535gsm Bockingford watercolour paper, not stretched at all as it’s a heavy weight paper that can take a lot of water. For the skin tones she used cadmium red and sap green, mixed with various amounts of water to give different tones. For the cooler tones she used viridian green mixed with alizarin crimson and Clare’s dark shirt was a mixture of French ultramarine and van Dyke brown. If she goes over an area that should be light, Aine retrieves the highlight by rubbing away the paint with a fine, damp brush to carve out the shape needed.

Aine uses a big palette so she can get her 2″ brushes in. In the palette the warm/cool colours Aine has are sap green/viridian green, lemon yellow (not sure I heard this correctly?)/cadmium yellow, cerulean blue/french ultramarine, and also cadmium orange, burnt sienna and van Dyke brown.

Tai’s top tip this week was inspired by the quote “a good painting is the combination of head, heart and hand.” He advised to get to know your paints, their colours, how they mix, how they behave. Know your tools of brushes, palette knives and wedges and how you use them for different mark making. Finally, know your surface and how it behaves with paint on it, whether it’s paper, a canvas or board. Experiment with them all on your painting journey.

Here are our paintings…

Susan initially set up to use acrylic but was pleased that Aine was painting in watercolours that she swapped to use them too. She used the colours that Aine painted with to get the skin colours. Susan did not draw Clare’s face but dived straight in with a big brush and loved it.

Steve used watercolour to achieve this sepia coloured portrait.

Angela D caught the last hour of the session then continued afterwards from a screenshot, taking 2 hours in total.

Rosie drew Clare’s face on Sunday then continued painting in acrylics on Monday and Tuesday, on Hahnemuhle watercolour paper 40cm x 40cm.

Juliet drew Clare a few times, using many pencil lines to create volume and texture in her portraits.

Cynthia used pastels on Sunday then painted another portrait in watercolours. She like Aine’s style of painting loose and free with big brushes.

Dot used graphite wash pencils and water brushes for her portrait and worked quickly, achieving Clare’s likeness after only 2 hours 40 minutes.

Tracy had trouble watching this week as the link kept buffering, so worked from a screenshot from the Sky Arts Facebook page. She used the same colours that Aine used and was surprised how sap green and cadmium red can give so many tones of skin colour. The main portrait of Clare is in watercolour and took about 2 hours.

Here are the judges top 3 adult, top 3 youngster and Aine Divine’s finished watercolour portrait of Clare…

Suzan’s paintings

Suzan has painted the little boy in acrylics and a landscape at Hall Place in Bexley in watercolours. So different to each other but both so full of vibrant colour, which she always uses to great effect. Excellent paintings, Suzan.