Friday, 19 April 2019

Paul Foxton's workshop in Belfast.

Sometimes in life we are lucky enough to meet people who share the same values and principles as ourselves, making the connection easy and comfortable. In my creative life I have met a few such kindred spirits. One of them is Paul Foxton, who I was delighted to welcome to Belfast Academy of Realist Art last week, where he delivered a colour mixing workshop to students from all over the world.

Paul introducing some of the group to the Munsell chips. 
His workshop ran for five days, and the first three days were mainly demonstrations, as well as mixing colour, learning how to assess value, hue and chroma, without actually painting anything at all. This mixing practice took place around the big table, so everyone could see everyone else's palettes and Paul had a great overview. Working together in this way de-personalised the struggle, and helps everyone understand what they're doing.

Once students showed a clear understanding of the process,  they began painting objects at the easel. 

Ciaran, working hard at the easel. 

Everyone worked very hard, and there were lightbulb moments all week! 

Some of Ciaran's colour studies.

The last night - only three students stayed over till the next day, so we celebrated with a meal out. L-R Girish, Alexei, Judy, Julie (me!) and Paul 
 I am thrilled to say that Paul is coming back again next year with a different workshop, and I will give you the dates as soon as we have confirmed them. 

For information on all workshops at Belfeast Academy of Realist Art please email

Up coming workshops include drawing and oils (22 - 27 April), portait drawing (25 & 36 April). 

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Practice Makes Permanent - oil portrait sketches (time lapse)

I've been doing a lot of portrait paintings recently, around 15 in quick succession. It was an interesting experience and I'm sure that it has changed my approach, for a little while at least! I wanted to work quickly, so set deadlines of four - six hours. I was lucky that I'd already planned a week away with an arty friend, so we were cocooned in a cottage for a week, with only paints, knitting wool and a 1000 piece jig saw (and some excellent Audibles). Blissssss!! Bliss, but very tiring. I managed to produce 7 paintings in 5 days. Would I do it again? You bet! (But next time I'll factor in a spa at the end to unknot my painter-shoulder..) 

The drawing, completed enough to transfer onto canvas.
For this portrait, I decided to take time lapse photos, and I've put the results below, both of the drawing stage and then the painting itself. I much prefer to work from life, but in this case it was not possible, so I worked from a phone - which is roughtly the same 'size' as a head would be if the sitter was right in front of me. I don't zoom in, except to check measurements. The drawing was done quickly and not brought to a high level of completion - just enough to know I had the likeness and correct proportions. 

Very basic set-up!! 
Click the movies below to watch the process (each film is around 17 seconds). 

The drawing took 45 minutes, the painting took just over three hours. 

For programme information about upcoming workshops in Belfast, please email
I have an oils workshop from 22 - 27th April, a Portrait workshop 25th & 26th April and Friday Night Life Drawing sessions every second Friday.