Friday, 27 October 2017

Toadstools and mushrooms, pen and coloured pencil on tinted paper, students work.

So, I'd been watching a very impressive clump of toadstools as it grew in the garden, waiting for it to reach a suitable size to dig up for my students to draw. This week, it made the grade....

 ...and I got out the spade. It was a pretty slimey, slithery-topped variety but the individual stems came away happily enough, giving folks a selection to choose from.

A toadstool platter...
 Add a box of delicious coloured pencils, and oh joy of joys!!

Caran d'Ache, my brand of choice
Ailbhe's lovely study
Everyone worked on tinted card - 'white' is not a supportive surface to draw on. It is harsh on the eyes and offers a too-stong contrast, in many instances. The darker tone of the grey card gives a different, warmer effect and while it means that colours don't behave the way they would on white paper, we can quickly work out the differences and enjoy the experience.

Clive's work, next to the toadstools. 

We began by drawing in pen - again, this is not as scary as it sounds ('what, no rubber???)! The pen doesn't feel too dark going onto the tinted tone, and once a line is there, it simply....stays there! 
It's actually liberating, not restricting. 

A closer look at Clive's drawings

Alison's drawing showing lovely colour blending.
As the week went on, the toadstools began to wilt, so I introduced some large field mushrooms, which offer a different range of colours. We might, at first glance, assume that there is no colour in a mushroom... (tsk!!), but a closer look reveals soft yellows, pinks and even blues.  And, as Paul noted, there's a lot of mushroom-colour as well!! 
The Thursday morning class! Yummy!
You can see from the photos how effective the pen is, in conjunction with the coloured pencil. The pen gives a strength of dark and helps the drawing to look confident.

Bernadette's lovely artwork - first time using coloured pencil!

Suzanne's lovely drawing
Adding a bit of soft white to the background area can help add drama to the finish.

Glynis's triumph!

David's artwork is a joy of compositional delight, making full use of the paper colour

Ken's lovely artwork - first time using coloured pencil and a great start.
There were even more lovely drawings, but not all my photos come out so well, so I have selected only a few. A great subject, an interesting way of using the mediums, and lovely results. 

Ewa's stunning drawing. 

Next up: Children's class, portrait workshop and oils weekend. For info email

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Monday, 23 October 2017

Autumn term delights

I try to put off collecting leaves for my students to paint because the season lasts quite a few weeks, and there could always be someting more... However, the wonderful Rheus tree outside my window was so magnificent with yellows, greens and oranges  early in Autumn, that I couldn't resist.

Dramatic colour on the front... 
Delicious even on the back! 

The simplicity of the shapes also made it a great subject as we wouldn't have to spend a great deal of time on the drawing aspect, allowing plenty of time to 'draw with our brushes' instead.

Roisin at work
 With water colour, it is important to identify the palest colour first, and lay a wash down as a good base for all other colours to rest on. Effectively, we are painting with stained water, and the darker colours go on last. With these leaves, we used Lemon Yellow as the base colour. you can see this in Roisin's painting (above) and Tony's painting (below).

Tony's lovely study - this was his first ever water colour painting!

Once the initial 'wash' is down, the job of choosing additional layers begins. I restricted the palette to just Lemon Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Yellow, Permanent Sap green and, for much further down the line, Permanent Rose.
Carolyn's study
 Restricting the palette is a wonderful way of beginning to understand the colours you are using, and help you realise that mixing a small number of different colours in a variety of quantities, gives you enormous scope and a wide range of options.
Jim's painting

Ben, who used water soluble coloured pencil, on a branch of Virginia Creeper
 I introduce 'red' late in the process because the red pigments not olny stain the water we paint wih, but they also quickly stain the paper too. This means that it is often impossible to change your mind and remove it. (One of the myths about water colour is that it is 'fixed'. This isn't true - adding more water to your paper and hitting it with kitchen paper will remove any colour if you have changed your mind - apart from the reds. Undertnading this simply means that we use reds with more caution, and always have the kitchen paper handy!)

Liz, a wonderful first painting

Upcoming workshops: Portrait drawing, Oils weekend, Children's half term workshop. For info please email

Notes from the Atelier - Julie's drawing and painting manual is available in local book shops and on her website

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