Wokingham Art Society
Sharon Hurst Demonstrations
Visit her at www.sharonhurst.co.uk or email her
Back to Archive December 2007 September 2011 December 2016
Fantasy Landscapes in Watercolour, 20 December 2016
Sharon brought some samples of her other work: "real" as opposed to "demo" paintings, including one done with the same techniques as she planned to use for the first part of tonight's demo. She also had greetings cards and painting materials for sale.

Her normal watercolour painting technique is a four-stage process. After soaking the paper she attaches it to her sloping board. The paper is then in stage 1 -with water running down, so colours also run down. In stage 2 the surface is still shiny, so colours blend but no longer run. In stage 3 the paper is damp but no longer shiny - some detail is possible. Finally, stage 4, real detail can be added to the completely dry paper.
Sharon uses Shin Han watercolours (see her website, above, to get it at discounted prices) and Windsor & Newton's but the same techniques can be uses with acrylics. Tonight she started with a sheet of 140lb Bockingford. What she likes about Bockingford is that it is sized all the way through so you don't risk washing it all off. She applied two liberal coats of water. You should look sideways to make sure there are no dry patches. Let the first coat soak in and then add the second coat.
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With a 1.5 inch flat brush she liberally put quinacridone gold into the centre of the paper (very wet, stage 1). Then cerulean blue around the edges. Alisaryn crimson was added to darken the sides (although she said that Rose Madder may have been even better). The same colour created distant trees, arching inwards, thick near the base and thinner twigs. A touch of burnt umber made some of the side features darker and a bit muddier.

As the paper dried towards stage2 the distant trees faded but darker colour could now be relied on to stay more nearly in place for mid-distance trees and bushes. At this stage a "thirsty" dryish brush will lift colour out. Beware that the paper will be wetter towards the bottom. Once the shine had gone off the paper (starting stage 3) Sharon decided to add some sparkle by sprinkling salt onto the wet paint. She used kitchen salt here but different granule sizes (eg table salt or sea salt) give subtly different effects.

Detail showing effects of colours and salt
The process is continuous - Sharon was repeatedly adding more and more colour. As the paper neared stage 4, she started going over existing twigs with a rigger and changed to Payne's grey for the really close branches. The rigger also strengthened some of the edges.

Being Sharon, she couldn't resist including a fairy in the centre of the pool of yellow light.

The foreground included grasses, with seedheads to add interest and take the eye off a blade that happened to have gone under the fairy's skirt! These were mostly done with the rigger but a really stiff flat brush was used for the nearest grasses.
So ended the first part of the demo - mince pies and non-alcoholic punch prepared us for two more landscapes!

With half an hour to go, the idea in the second half was to show us how to produce simple landscapes so quickly that you could send original artwork as Christmas cards.

Bear in mind that watercolour dries a third lighter, so don't stint on paint.
For the first example she drew an interesting horizon and wetted the sky and the bottom corners. Prussian blue makes a good winter sky. Use a hake and carry the same colour into the bottom corners.

Add some quinacridone gold to make green for the distant trees. Let it dry a bit. Change to a smaller flat brush for mid-distant trees. Then dry it thoroughly.

Mix a lot of blue and yellow for the nearest tree. Load a small brush and roll it side-to-side over the paper to create horizontal conifer branches. A bit of lighter shadow on the ground and your card is done.
For the second example, Sharon wanted something a bit more exciting. She took Glastonbury Tor as her inspiration, drew a suitable hill as an horizon and marked in what would become lines of mid-distant trees.

She wet the sky and with a big brush spread Raw Sienna from the horizon up into the sky. She then changed to Burnt Umber and a smaller (No 8 round) brush for the top corners and some other cloud features. A touch of blue came from somewhere!

She put in a line of tiny masking-fluid fencing across the bottom of the left-hand stand of trees. As this dried she picked up raw sienna, burnt umber and a mucky green, unmixed on the brush, and rolled it across the trees.
While the trees were still wet she lifted colour out towards their lower parts but leaving paint where the masking fluid was. She let it dry a little before touching tree-trunks into the light areas and painting dark fencing into the pale bottom of the right-hand line of trees.

When the paint was completely dry she rubbed the masking fluid off, with the interesting result that the fencing on one side was light-on-dark and on the other dark-on-light. She very lightly softened the edge beneath the fencing, added some nominal marks for hedges and footprints and finished it all by touching in the Tor itself and a representation of the legendary tree, the Holy Thorn, said to have grown from the staff of St Peter (or was it Joseph of Arimathea?).

Three demo's as well as mince-pies etc! What an evening! Thanks very much, Sharon.

Back to Archive December 2007 September 2011 December 2016
Fantasy Painting in Watercolour, 20 September 2011
Before the demo, I'd expected to be able to say "Here are some pictures of the way the demo progressed, but for details just look at the write-up from 2007." There are similarities but I still landed up with quite a few notes.

This is destined to become Sharon's 2011 Christmas card: a starry sky; Christmas lights and a Christmas angel, slightly one-over-the-eight, loosely holding a nearly-empty champagne bottle and a sprig of mistletoe.

Sharon gets her models from fashion and lingerie magazines and she Googles to pick up details like the lights and the mistletoe.
She uses 140lb unstretched Bockingford paper because it is sized all the way through, doesn't absorb colour enough to stop you lifting it out (with sponge, brush or salt), is very tolerant of bad treatment and its wrinkles vanish as it dries.

Sharon had already spent a long time composing the picture, lightly drawing all the significant lines and then liberally applying her own, blue, easy-to-see Sharon Hurst masking fluid. "Forward planning is essential".

A 1.5" hake wet the areas around the lights before she dropped pure colours in. These spread out to form diffuse patches which were then well dried. She speaks highly of Shin Han watercolours: organic, transparent, permanent and inexpensive. Transparency is essential for multiple glazes.
Next the sky above the lights was wetted and a staining mixture of Indigo and Prussian Blue liberally brushed into it.

No great care was needed, except to catch the occasional runs, because the masking fluid protected the lines.

For skin she uses multiple glazes of a very well diluted mix of burnt sienna, burnt umber (20%) and alizarin (10%). This is applied as a flat wash (keeping a line of wet paint as you work down the paper) and then thoroughly dried. For darker edges, the subsequent glazes are less diluted and blended in (repeatedly apply, rinse brush, remove excess water from brush, lift off). For the darkest skin shadows French Ultramarine are added .
The demo's time constraints had made her depart slightly from her 'order of creation' rule of thumb (sky, background, skin and finally clothes) but she was greeted with gasps of horror, just before the coffee break when she took the dark sky down over the lower half of the picture. This completely obliterated the coloured light patches until she re-exposed them by lifting the wet paint out with a cloth.

In the interval, while the dark paint was still damp, she put the board flat and sprinkled table salt onto the lights to give a granulated effect. This effect depends on the size of the salt grains (the background of the small picture below was done with dishwasher granules).
The detail on the right shows how
the salt takes the dark paint off the lights
dark paint puddles on the masking fluid (you should remove excess wet paint from masked areas)
fine white lines were made with masking fluid and a size zero rigger (well soaped to preserve it).
Other things we had been told in 2007 (many of which I had forgotten) were repeated.

Don't paint finger nails until the very end
Wings were started with Quinacridone Magenta, Windsor Violet being added later
The edges of the feathers are little triangles of Payne's Grey
All overlapping areas cast a dark shadow
Shadow edges curve to follow the contours
Apply masking fluid with a single stroke and don't leave it on for more than about 24 hours. It can be removed and re-painted several times in a single painting
Stars and other texture can be added onto the dark sky with white gouache. Cover any areas that don't need the spray, be careful not to have the paint too wet and avoid oblique spray (which gives teardrops instead of little circles).


So ended another fascinating evening. Sharon is an artist with her own intriguing style. I nearly said "inimitable" but no-one, even with no wish to paint fairies and angels, can fail to want to try out some of her techniques. Thank you, Sharon.

The painting was far from finished but Sharon has been as good as her word and sent this photo of the finished version of her inebriated fairy, "The Christmas Spirit!".

"The Christmas Spirit"

Back to Archive December 2007 September 2011 December 2016
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