Monday, 12 March 2018

Golden Theme Winner

This is Jill Lloyd's painting which was voted the best on a golden theme at the AGM. Judy Giles came second. It was great to have so many paintings entered as we celebrated Ledbury Art Society's golden anniversary.

Prizes for the competition were generously provided by the SAA (Society of All Artists). These included a specially produced mug for the winner.

To find out more about the SAA visit their website

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Eric Watson - animals in pastel

Members were invited to try some of the demonstrated
techniques on this picture
Eric is a self-taught artist from Bromsgrove and a full member of the International Wildlife Artists as a professional Artist. In his demonstration he show us how he uses light and shadow using a combination of pastel, pencil watercolour pencil and acrylic to build up from a base drawing to a finished creation of stunning detail.

Eric had brought along samples of his work and you can see more on his website  Some will remember Eric came to us in September 2013 and you can see images from that demonstration on this blog here

The demonstration picture this time was of a dog standing in water. He had tackled this subject before so he was able to show us a completed painting before taking us through the stages of development needed to achieve a similar result. He had brought along several pictures at various stages of completion so that he could show how each could be developed toward the next stage.

He first showed us how to transfer an image to paper using a grid and datum lines before moving on to a second stage picture which had some black pastel had already been applied. The paper is a heavy smooth general purpose paper with enough tooth to take pastel that he works well into the paper with a finger.

He usually waits until the animal image is about 85% complete before working on the background which he likes to keep fairly simple. If the main subject is dark the background is better kept light for contrast. A background applied first would pick up lots of dark pastel dust from the subject.

The edges of the dog image are drawn with pencil and not pastel. That means he can bring the background right up to the edge, even over the protruding fur, so there is no 'halo effect' around the subject.

Scrap paper is used to avoid smudging and should be discarded occasionally as it will pick up pastel on the back.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Stephen Hand - From sketch to studio painting

A group of cheetahs in Namibia
Stephen showed us some sketches of cheetahs he had encountered in Namibia. To those of us with no experience of cheetahs, some of these encounters sounded a little too close for comfort!

The sketch above is too elongated to fit to most canvases so they need to be rearranged to suit a painting. While he was sketching the central cheetah sat up which made for a better arrangement so that was captured in a quick thumbnail sketch.

Back in the studio, Stephen would usually do another thumbnail to plan the layout of the painting. For our benefit he made a larger sketch on A3 paper on which he first made pencil marks to divide the sheet into thirds both horizontally and vertically.

The shapes and positions of the animals only needed to be roughly indicated. Notice how they are positioned in relation to the lower and left third marker line.

As they all appear on the horizontal line, he decided that when it came to transferring the image to canvas, the one to the right needed to come forward and the leftmost go back and closer to the middle cheetah. Various adjustments were also made during painting - easy enough with acrylics.

Stephen also had a number of photographs of cheetahs which were used as reference sources for colour and detail.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Notan Workshop

Notan by Richard

What a stimulating day we had with Vicki Norman. You can find out more about Vicki's art and the workshops and holidays she offers by visiting her website

Vicki had us rapidly produce lots of thumbnail sketches in only two or three tones. Notan is Japanese in origin and aims at harmonic relationships between dark and light. Light and dark give structure to an image and notan is an aid to getting simple clean design.

Most of the participants followed Vicki's recommendation of using Tombow ABT Dual Brush Pens in black and one in Cool grey 6 (N60). My attempts used graphite sticks which were quite hard work and, as you can see from the image on the left, did not give the even black coverage that's really needed.

Vicki gave each of us a viewfinder in neutral grey. That served two purposes: (1) we could draw a line around the inside to define edges for our thumbnails; (2) we could use it to crop what we saw whether that was an image projected onto the screen or a scene in the real world.

You can read more about Notan in Arthur Wesley Dow's classic book on composition. This is available as a free download in several formats from Project Gutenberg. The link is

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Christmas Exhibition 20 to 25 November

We have a good show in the Weavers Gallery with more than 70 paintings displayed and more in browsers and there's a good range of cards for sale.

As so often happens, the photographic images shown in this post fail to do justice to the paintings.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Marion Yeo - Acrylic Landscape

Marion Yeo is a Worcester based artist who uses nature as her inspiration. Her reference photo for the demonstration was of a forest in Cornwall.

She usually lays down some colour on her canvas before beginning a painting. In this instance she has used a two-tone background.

The next step is to indicate some of the main features - in this case the edges of the river and the tree trunks and larger branches. This was done using Payne's Grey.

She kept us well entertained with a series of quotations and stories as well as describing her working methods.

She continued to add darker values and then added some white for parts of the river and as an under-painting for brighter leaves.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Joe Francis Dowden - Amazing Watercolour

We were faced with an array of Joe’s brilliant images even before he started his demonstration. This was certainly something many of us had been looking forward to and we were not disappointed.

A good source of information about Joe Dowden’s work is his website where you’ll also find details of his books and DVDs.

Joe certainly doesn’t believe in limiting the range of pigments available to him and he was quite enthusiastic about some of the pigments that have become available in recent times, mainly thanks to the motor industry. Despite the big range of tubes he had brought he did limit the number he used in his demonstration painting.

His brushes were mainly sable but definitely not when applying masking fluid. That’s the time for the very cheap brushes. He does use a lot of masking fluid to save whites, some is painted on, some spattered. The contrast between the white of the paper and the darks created by painting create the illusion of light.

His support was 300gsm Arches rough watercolour paper which had been stretched by soaking it thoroughly, laying it on a board for a few minutes to expand and then stapled along the edges. You can see from the accompanying photo how close together the staples are. When a painting is finished he cuts it off the board. It must take a while to remove all the staples even using a tack-lifter and pliers.

Drawing was fairly minimal. He simply established the horizon and mapped in a few of the main features. Only when the drawing was done did he add masking tape to establish the limits of his painting. Then the fun began with masking fluid painted and spattered on where he wanted to save the whites.