Friday, 28 March 2014

Draw In - a learning event to celebrate drawing! Belfast 2014

Home page from the website
I am delighted to bring you details about a drawing and painting event I am organising this summer on Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st August. Full details are here

A weekend of talks, demonstrations and workshops with some amazing artists from around the world,  including Illustrator PJLynch, Colleen Barry, who is described as one of the greatest painters today, Katherine Tyrrell who writes the fantastic artist resource blog 'Making A Mark', and Paul Foxton who is passionate about drawing education.

As well as the weekend, there are two five day workshops, in Figure Drawing with Colleen Barry and oil painting still life with Matt Weigle, who has recently graduated from the Grand Central Academy in New York. I attended a week long workshop last year at GCA, and met Matt on the course. I attended the GCA with the aim of improving my own work and also to invite tutors back to this part of Europe, extending their reach to a wider audience.

It has been an honour to gather these creatives together for this event - they are all interested in teaching and sharing their knowledge with you - students attending will feel empowered and go away with new and exciting skills.

The event is open to everyone, from beginner to more experienced, and all levels are catered for.

Please look at the website, and be inspired.  

If you would like any more information about any aspect of the event, please email me on

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Portrait, Child, Charcoal Pencil, A3

I'd not used charcoal pencils before and was asked if I'd have a try. They are more commonly used to define a chalk pastel drawing, rather than for their own merits. So I drew young Aiden, who is Mr Adorable-Delicious, obviously.

I drew larger-than-life, as the charcoal pencils are farily thick, so I'd not be able to get the detail in if I worked too small. I used Strathmore drawing paper, which has a slight tooth to it, and set to work. The first marks were rather scarey, as the charcoal goes on... black. Eek. Softly softly, and lots of rubbing with a finger.

I bought a variety of charcoal pencils but mostly used just two of them (because I didn't like the others - too scratchy). I used Derwent' Light' and Faber Castell Pitt Charcoal, medium. The Derwent gave a good, pencil-type grey and blended on the paper nicely. The others were so black that they almost scored the paper. I used Faber Castell Pitt Charcoal Soft for the pupil in the eyes - i gave a dense rich dark sitting on top of the medium. 

All in all, good to try new things. In the end, I liked the scale and the risk of dealing with blackness. 

Friday, 14 March 2014

It's a matter of Tones.

This week my students have been marvelous. No change there then. I did an oil painting workshop and had lots of props left over, so used them for a water colour exercise for my weekly students. It was an aubergine and a lemon on coloured paper. The thing that is so intersting about these objects placed together is the huge range of tones - from the very bright lemon to the highlights and darks on the aubergine, with the paper in between.

This photo is a bit blurry, but it shows clearly what the brief was. Painting by Carolyn G, student

The task was to draw the objects, twice, on water colour paper, then do a one colour tonal study using Payne's Grey, and then a colour version. 
And how much suffereing was there...? Well, I couldn't possibly say, though on the whole students wimpered fairly quietly. The one colour painting took much more time than the colour one, which was interesting. 
By Thomas R, student (Thomas managed the colour painting in about 20 minutes!) 

The challenge is to get the contrasts right, and most avoided the very dark of the aubergine for as long as possible. But, until the dark is dark enough, the lights won't shine, so eventually, the layers built up and those contrasts really began to work well.
Not the best photo, but two lovely studies, by Ruth T, student

By Jayne McC, student
If we painted in black and white more often, our colour work would benefit hugely. Black and white forces us to observe tonal contrasts in order for our wrk to look 3 dimensional. Understanding tones helps us be less intoxicated with actual colours, allowing us the freedom to see far MORE colour than if we'd ignored the tones. 
Hard at work...

Up and coming - Friday homework club for teenagers.