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Wendy Jelbert Demonstrations
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"Landscape Mixed Media" August 2008 Back to Archive "Venice Mixed Media" August 2012 "Venice Acrylic Textures" March 2016

Using Textures with Acrylic (Venice), 15/3/2016
Wendy started with a general introduction to the benefits of acrylic paint:

It can be used like watercolour or oil paint (tonight will be very much in watercolour style)
It is reputable (5% of Royal Watercolour Society paintings are in acrylic)
It is good for techniques like dry-brush, scumbling, spongeing and salting
Many media are available to mix with it (pearlised, textured, retarders etc.)
It can be washed off and repainted even when partially dry
It is a good adhesive for collage (cut-up magazines, doillies, flattened eggshell, rush etc); as good as PVA glue
It can be put onto almost any material
Look for tubes with big caps, or buy it in big pots
There is a new Sennelier acrylic on the market: "Abstract", sold in convenient economical pouches
She is not keen on acrylic paper. Canvas board is probably best but she was using watercolour paper for this demo, glued to board.
Her normal sequence is (1) a colour sketch, (2) a photo, (3) a pencil drawing (for composition), (4) an ink drawing, (5) the addition of masking fluid, texture paste and/or collage materials, (6) the acrylic painting itself and finally (7) varnishing.

Wendy had taken a colour photo of a Venetian scene and made a larger black and white copy (for tone) and an ink drawing.

She had stuck some cut-up pieces of a map of the Grand Canal into what would become the water (to give a feeling of movement). She had then added blue masking fluid along interesting edges (colour it with watercolour if you have only white masking fluid). She was now ready to start stage (6) for the demo.
Wendy uses a stay-wet palette, renewing it after a week or so with kitchen roll and greaseproof paper (before stuff starts growing in it!). I was surprised at how sloshy she kept it - often seeming not to dry the brush after rinsing it. She doesn't recommend a standard palette of colours. "You should experiment to find which colours are best for you for each type of painting".

She went straight in with very thin yellow ochre and then red (wet-into-wet) all over the buildings and their reflections in the water. Then some cerulean blue went over the sky, its reflection and the distant buildings (blue for distance and also, because it is complementary to the yellow, to grey the colour down).

She got the windows in early: dark violet dirtied a bit with olive green. Don't put them all in. Quick marks. No precision - your shaky hand is an advantage! Pat out with kitchen paper if too strong.

An orange wash added interest to some of the yellow ochre. She used a red glaze, too, I think. And then a green (burnt sienna and cerulean), glazed over the shaded side of the canal.
Long before the interval Wendy had reached the stage of making small marks everywhere: shadow edges; wiping out runs; interesting chimney shape; strips of sky colour into boats (in fact, lots of dabs of different colours give a good impression of a typical dirty Venetian boat job).

During the coffee break Wendy rubbed off the masking fluid and immediately started to soften the resulting dead white with blue. She put yellow and white reflections into the water. Previously unpainted small details appeared. Thin verticals and horizontals were strengthened. Shadows, too. I almost got the impression that she loaded her brush with paint and then looked to see in how many places she could use it. . . and of course there were little asides:
Don't show too much detail - always leave something for the viewer to imagine.
It's fun painting cafés - sell your work for coffees.
You can use masking fluid with acrylic if, like Wendy today, you've been painting like watercolour.
Acrylic dries matt, so varnish it to enrich the finish.
Texture paste is good for seaside spray. Broken eggshell gives a great texture for rocks

At the end of the demo, she claimed she had little idea how much more work the picture would need. She was kind enough to send us a photo of the finished version (below).

Thanks Wendy, for an enthralling evening.
Wendy's photo of the finished painting
"Landscape Mixed Media" August 2008 Back to Archive "Venice Mixed Media" August 2012 "Venice Acrylic Textures" March 2016

Mixed Media (Venice), 21/8/2012
It was good to see Wendy again after so long. Reassuring, too, to find that her advice still agreed with what she had told us back in 2008. I'd forgotten much of what she'd said then but I'll not repeat it all - you can read it below.

For some reason we've no photos of Wendy's 2008 demo. I was going to remind you with some examples of her earlier work here but they are much better on her website.

Her references tonight were colour and b/w photos - "Each shows things that you can't see in the other". She had, as always, previously done some preliminary sketches. The demo started with a pre-prepared drawing of a Venetian scene on 140lb Langton paper, using:
a double-ended brush pen charged with dark brown water-soluble ink
blue masking fluid -"Use a drafting pen"
texture paste - "Use a palette knife".
For anyone who has trouble with the strong perspective of scenes like this narrow canal, one of Wendy's first tips is to start with the negative shapes of the sky and water. "It's much easier to fit everything in if you've got them right"

Also, "Don't draw things that are not there - if lines are bent, draw them bent".
She started with pale washes of Naples Yellow watercolour in the sky and water, and let them dry. She was, of course, using her own special sword brushes - "The only brush you need. It replaces everything from a wash brush to a rigger." After wetting the buildings she introduced Neutral Grey, a colour that mixes interestingly with other shades: here an orange red. The wetness of the paint resulted in runs but these were easily mopped off.

Wendy then started to add a progression of details and strengthening glazes.
It's advisable to start with subdued colours and to liven them up towards the end. Her palette was quite limited: basically orange, Burnt Sienna, grey and blue. A Cerulean Blue and Burnt Sienna mix is good for distant buildings.

Experience tells you that a detail should be made more or less prominent. It is very difficult to explain, let alone justify each stroke of the brush.

Burnt Sienna went into the nearer buildings, followed by Yellow Ochre, but the Neutral Grey was never far away.
The darker shadowed surfaces were applied along one edge and then dragged upwards over the relevant area (Wendy's magic brush really comes into its own here). Shadows under roofs and windows were put over dry background with grey. Violet and Burnt Sienna modified the colours of the reflections

Hint: Run your little finger down the side of the board to make sure the verticals really are.

Wendy checked that the Naples Yellow was absolutely dry before she put the blue into the sky and water (otherwise you get green).
Vertical strokes put the colours into the water - water surface ripples were lifted out with horizontal strokes.

The photo above left was taken just before the coffee break.

When we came back we found that Wendy had rubbed off the masking fluid and was about to soften the resulting stark white with a little yellow (above right - see the effect on the windows, the boats and the bridge in particular).
More blue went into the shadows. She re-painted the red reflections with a little red and orange mixed with white gouache.

To add texture and interest Wendy went over some areas with oil pastel. This acts as a resist as well as giving colour. It was only when she washed over it with the background colour that the texture paste was seen to have any effect - particularly in the stonework near the water.

Finally she got out her Faber Castell watercolour pencils to reinforce some edges and emphasize the "light-against-dark" contrasts.
So ended another entertaining and instructive evening. Thank you, Wendy.

 
"Landscape Mixed Media" August 2008 Back to Archive "Venice Mixed Media" August 2012 "Venice Acrylic Textures" March 2016

Mixed Media (Landscape), 19/8/2008
Surrounded by samples of her work, cards, brushes, videos, DVDs, gadgets and books (all for sale) Wendy started straight into a description of how she got inspiration by travelling, stressing the importance of sketch-books (with maps and descriptions) and photos (including close-ups for interesting detail). Even if the foreign weather is too hot or too wet you can still fill your sketchbook with still-life. She had prepared her un-stretched 140lb Langton NOT paper by trowelling in some texture paste for foreground rocks, drawing in pencil (for guidance, specially necessary for people), applying masking fluid (with a draughtsman's pen and splattering) and adding some detail in both permanent ink and water-soluble sepia inks. For the inks she had used a Pentel Brush Pen and a Rötring Art Pen. Masking fluid must have a colour that is visible against the paper - she likes the blue - and can be kept thin enough by adding clean water if it has started to dry up - a pen is better than a brush. The preparation had taken her about an hour.

Then the painting. She had pre-filled the pans in the paint-box with tube watercolour. She used her own design of sword-liner brush for everything from fine detail to broad washes. We saw a fairly conventional wet-into-wet start: cobalt into the top of a wetted sky; violet for distant hills; cerulean for closer hills; yellow and olive greens getting stronger as you come forward, violet shadows (and to darken the greens), yellow ochre and burnt sienna for the foreground bare earth and dead grasses.

Wendy spent quite a time adding more and more colour, before and after removing the masking fluid. The brush pen and water-soluble pencils darkened in negative shapes. The water-soluble ink ran with a similar soft effect.

Bits of advice kept coming. The texture paste, although sold for acrylic, still lets some watercolour stick to it. Oil pastel (wax) provides an interesting coloured resist, to which the watercolour won't stick, and it can be added even over wet paint. Fight the temptation to go back into half-dry washes - make sure everything is totally dry first - of course this is absolutely vital before you take off the masking fluid. Remember to identify your focal point and make sure that it contains the brightest and darkest areas. Use lots of different photos of people to populate, for example, your café or market scenes (and remember that backs, thighs and lower legs are normally all about the same length).

One could go on. All in all it was a most interesting and satisfying evening.

Sam Dauncey
"Landscape Mixed Media" August 2008 Back to Archive "Venice Mixed Media" August 2012 "Venice Acrylic Textures" March 2016

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