Friday, 25 May 2018

Appraisal evening with Scott Bridgwood

Clarifying your thinking

If you ever get chance to be tutored by Scott Bridgwood, take the opportunity. This guy really knows his stuff and is very generous with his knowledge.

This year I have been disappointed with the artwork I have produced. Some people would say I have had ‘artist block,’ but I am not short of ideas, it is the development of them.  During the appraisal evening Scott helped me clarify my thinking so I can now progress and move my work up to the next level.

Thank you Scott.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Rip Up Your Artwork!

A Ripping Good Day! MHAC members Ken Lilley (left, back row), Frank Bingley (back, centre) and Jane Palmer (front, centre) at the end of the session. Picture by Sue Bee.
Source Photo
Three members of our club (including myself) attended a workshop at Wistow Gallery recently, under the tuition of Danielle Vaughn of Sky Portrait Artist of the Year fame. Our medium was to be old magazines ripped to shreds and our brief was to compose a large 45x45cm painting on corrugated cardboard using the paper shreds. The idea intrigued me and I wasn't quite sure how we were going to go about this, especially as Danielle stated that we wouldn't be doing any drawing first.

After choosing our subject matter, we were instructed to cover the board with a suitable background first. Mine was to be a common gull, which in the photo, had nothing but sea behind it - no sky. I chose to add a sky, with a bay and land in the mid ground.

It soon became apparent that there is a knack to tearing the paper. When tearing magazines across the page, it was impossible to ear in a straight line, let alone a thin strip. However, tearing a piece down the length of the page gave a reasonably straight line every time. Tearing thin strips got harder though as the hands started to get a bit slippy from the PVA glue we were using to stick them on with. I also realised that one side of the tear left a thin, white jagged edge, which worked perfectly as froth on the waves.

Background in place
Eventually, my board was completely covered with a background and looked splendid! Looking around at other's work at this stage was fascinating to see their ideas and methods of approach.

Adding the gull was going to be the part that needed a bit more artistic flair. As we weren't to draw, placing a few pieces of paper at strategic places helped with getting the scale correct. It got really exciting to see the gull slowly appear and how different shapes, colours, text and patterns could be used in composing the work.

The finished work: Common Gull.
Overall, I was surprised at how easy and quick creating artworks like this is, as well as being absolutely fascinating! Most of the works turned out to be really colourful too, and although there wasn't the problem of mixing paint, searching through the magazines for just the right colour did get a bit time consuming.

Jane didn't quite get her artwork finished, but is shown here as an unfinished work and gives some insight to how the subject matter is built up. No doubt it won't be long before she gets the urge to finish the work done so far.

Ken's Robin shows how colourful some of our artworks turned out to be. He has retained some of the text from the magazines for additional interest.

For anyone looking for something that little bit different to do, I can highly recommend booking a place at one of Danielle's workshops, which are held periodically at Wistow Gallery's Art Shed.

Ken Lilley Robin

Jane Palmer: Hare

Sunday, 25 March 2018


After our AGM a mini competition was held. The subject was Architecture. Sally Struszkowski and Lynda Talbot both had the same number of votes and shared first place. Sally's is top centre and Lynda's is bottom centre.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Michael Warr - Caran D' Ache Demonstration

Professional Artist Michael Warr’s jovial manner not only entertained the art club but he shared some useful tips and techniques.

Caran D’Ache (Russian for pencil) was established in 1915, so they have had a 100 years of perfecting quality artist materials. Their pencils are made from cedar wood they are easy to sharpen.

Prismalo Aquarelle the worlds first water-soluble pencils were launched in 1931. They are harder than the Supracolor soft Aquarelle. Always use a watercolour paper for these pencils. Michael demonstrated the use of both types of pencil. The line in the drawing cannot be washed out if you use the ‘point’ of the pencil. Angle the pencil at about 10 degrees and use the side of the lead;  then a wash with a brush will produce soft edges.

Museum Aquarelle are water-soluble pencils of extra-fine quality suitable for watercolour painting and drawing. Blue wool scale measures the resistance to light when the colours are exposed to light. Light fastness range from ** to *****. Certain colours will remain unaltered for 100 years.


  • Overlay dry colours to dry paper to mix the colours before adding water (taking care NOT to flood the paper).
  • Draw on damp paper.
  • Mix the pigment with water and apply with a brush.
  • Make a palette on paper and use like paint.
  • Mist with fine water (useful for Neocolor II) to get a soft edge.
  • Use an on old stiff oil painting brush to lift out colour (good indicating sun rays).
  • Bright greens can be knocked back by toning them down  with touch of burnt sienna.
  • Once dry, you can work over the drawing again.
  • Sgraffito work can be done using both Neocolor I (water-resistant) and Neocolour II (water-soluble).
  • Gouache can be used to work light over dark.

Compatible with other watercolours the pencils are easy to transport and take on holiday.

Neocolor II

These are water-soluble wax pastel crayons. More suitable to expressive drawing rather than fine detailed work. A poppy was drawn using Neocolor II, and outlined in waterproof Indian ink with a stick before applying water. The residue crayon doesn’t disperse but leaves a nice texture.


Gouache is made in pans as well as tubes. It is an opaque medium made of finely ground chalk (better quality than poster paints). It dilutes like watercolour but you can paint light over dark. This is useful when drawing on tinted paper or card.

Fibralo brush and Fancolor

Water-soluble brush pens, water-soluble fibre tipped pens, all water-based ink available in a range of colours.  Useful for doing quick studies.

Two hours passed very quickly and it was good to see the real work. Michaels’s graphite work is fabulous, and no further time for photography, but you can find examples of his work in his books. 

A special thank you to Michael and Caran D’ Ache for an inspiring evening. At our next painting together session our ‘freebie’ products will be available for all of us to try.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

A lesson with Maxine Dodd

Maxine Dodd did a workshop showing how to put figures into a painting. You could use any medium and I chose, as she did, watercolour. She wanted to create believable people in a crowd with the minimum of detail. She was basing her tuition on a book called "Learn to paint people quickly". A small very encouraging tome by Hazel Soan, which I have bought. I have added here the results of my first efforts but need to continue practicing and as I gain in skill and confidence will try to incorporate figures in other paintings in oils, perhaps. Ken Lilley

Monday, 27 November 2017

Xmas card painting

Yes it has soon come round to that time of year! I like to do winter landscapes, but they can be very sombre. Taking on board criticism, I hope this picture is bright enough for Xmas!

Experiment, experiment, experiment!

‘Don’t stick to the same painting techniques — the time comes to take risks’

Shirley Trevena

Well, Michael has certainly taken this advice seriously. Members were amazed and enthralled with the techniques he demonstrated.

Dendritic technique

He used plexi glass rather than traditional glass for this technique. He recommended Soden Plastics in Leicester; 477 Welford Road, Knighton, Leicester LE2 6BL.

  1. A paper template was placed under the plexi glass, this acted as a painting guide. 
  2. Acrylic paint (buttery consistency) was painted over the plexi glass.
  3. A second piece of plexi glass was gently placed over the paint (avoid sliding about).
  4. Slide a knife between the two sheets and carefully lift it off.
  5. Lay paper over the paint (little heavier than writing paper) with your fingers gently smooth the paper down. Do not slide or smudge the paint.

One off prints

  1. Create a see through door by sticking cellophane to mount board with a larger aperture than you want for your finished print.
  2. Place your paper template underneath the cellophane, this is your paint guide.
  3. Use masking tape on one side of the paper you wish to print on, stick it on your board so that it can form a hinge.
  4. Apply acrylic paint to the cellophane keeping within the template guidelines.
  5. Tear random shapes of paper and lay over the acrylic paint.
  6. Put the print paper over the paint and paper shapes, and draw onto it with the pointed end of the paint brush.
  7. Lift the paper up and look at your image, you can add more to it by rearranging the paper or tearing different shapes, place the paper back and redraw.

Prints using oil blocks

  1. Put the template under the plexi glass as this is a guide to where you put the oil.
  2. Put masking tape on the plexi glass around the guide area, so you get a clean edge
  3. Use a knife to remove the skin off the oil bar, and rub over the plexi glass within the masking tape (NB you can use many different colours).
  4. Tape down on one side of the print paper, so you can form a hinge and check your work.
  5. Once you have laid your paper down, you can use many different mark makers to create your image (String block, wheels on children's toys,fork).
  6. Keep the print in line by opening the paper like a door, check the work and make your improvements.

Wire wool

  1. Use coarse wire wool and dap it into acrylic paint (don’t pick up too much paint).
  2. Dab the wire wool on the mount board.
  3. Pick up another colour and repeat number 2 to build up your picture.
  4. You can draw and or paint into the textures you have created.

Acrylic ink
  1. Drip, drop and or draw acrylic ink onto white or black mount board.
  2. Spray water around the borders of the mount board.
  3. Angle spray the water across the acrylic ink, and allow the paint to flow.
  4. Gum arabic can be added to the ink to make it granulate.
  5. Iridescent and or crackle fluid can also be added to create different effects.
  6. It works best if you let the ink settle naturally rather than moving it.
  7. Allow a couple of days for the ink to dry out.

Michael makes up words to give his work titles as he doesn’t want to influence the viewer thoughts. Ambiguity is where art begins. Art relies upon a form of elusiveness, the title could leave no room for a viewers own interpretation.

Shirley Trevena’s also strongly believes in experimentation. She says anything  can be used to put paint onto paper for example, bamboo, rollers, twigs. She believes you have to take risks to almost destroy a painting to make it exciting and vibrant (the alternative is painting by numbers).

So there you have it, be like Picasso.

‘I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else’.