Wokingham Art Society
Jonathan Newey demonstrations


Visit him at www.jonathannewey.com

Pen & Wash Landscape
2008
Acrylic Landscape
2011
Return to Archive Buildings in Acrylic
2013
Winter Landscape
2014

"Winter Landsape in Acrylic , 16 Dec 2014
Always good for an interesting demo, Jonathan was back - this time with an almost Christmas-card photo of a snowy field with trees, houses and hedges in the background.

He had over-painted an old canvas board with thick white acrylic as a primer. But white is the last thing you want under an acrylic snow scene. Almost any mid-tone background will do but he'd chosen a cold (blue-grey) one - Ultramarine, Payne's Grey and white. He scrubbed a thin (quicker drying) coat of this all over the canvas - it seemed random until you looked back at the photo and saw the directions of the brush-strokes and the variations in thickness.

Photo
He chatted for a few minutes as it dried. You'll find a few of his pearls of wisdom at the end.
Then, with more Payne's Grey, Jonathan started drawing with a No 8 (3/16"?) round brush. Horizon, tree and house outlines (houses slightly over-sized - a good move) and the line of some footprints. The drawing would nearly all get painted over, but it fixed the overall composition.

Then he switched to his preferred brush - a filbert.

First, the sky. The original ultra and grey underpainting isn't itself a good colour for clear blue winter sky. You need cobalt blue and perhaps a hint of raw sienna for warmth. A lot of this would be needed so he mixed it first, with a knife. Cryla is nice and thick - interesting brush marks.
He covered much of the sky with the pre-mixed blue before going over the clouds with white, and more raw sienna for warmer patches. Jonathan uses a rag, hung on his easel, to remove excess water from the brush each time he rinses it, but he was working fast enough for some of the still-wet blue to be picked up by the white. Almost dry brush.

The same slightly softened white next went into the distant fields (no hedges yet), carefully defining the shapes of the houses.

Some of the original background grey darkened the undersides of some of the clouds. It also softened the white for the foreground field, defining the bottoms of the houses.
Greens can easily be made too bright in a scene like this - they need toning right down with a little red. If the colour is too warm, add some of the sky blue. Darker, warmer tones look nearer, so use more blue, burnt umber and raw umber to get this.

For distant hedges and trees Jonathan drew a light broken line along their base and then dodged along their upper edges. You make them look darker by whitening their backgrounds - but the ones behind the buildings are painted darker to make the buildings stand out.

The brush often jumps around the picture. It gives a certain homogeneity.
Then, the buildings themselves. Raw sienna walls with different amounts of grey and white for direct sunlight and shadow. Bright white roofs with a touch of the sky blue. Rounded edges to give a better snow effect.

Then the big tree, which had by then been completely overpained with sky. Even more grey went into the green for this. Trunk first, then major branches, then with a much smaller brush, an even shakier hand and dry-brush action, the smaller branches. Finally a bit of smudging for the twigs, some warm light up one side of the tunk and snow on the horizontal branches. Take your time over trees.

Detail
Then detail, mostly with a small brush: tiny chimneys (two strokes); grey windows (one stroke); shadows under eaves and on chimneys; extra white below houses; grey shadows from bushes and trees; grey and white splodges for the footprints (remembering that sunlit footprints aren't the same as ones in the shade); snow on chimney-tops and window-sills; white smoke (but darker than the snow) etc.

More sky blue was put between branches and then four final touches: a red phone box (with snow on top, of course), some grasses to break up the otherwise blank bottom-left corner, some almost subliminal birds high over the houses and a gilt frame to show it all off.

Jonathan was making comments all the time. Here are a few.
Pick an interesting scene and try doing it on several different colour priming/backgrounds. Even if you think you've painted over everywhere it's interesting to learn what effect the different backgrounds have
He recommended the SAA stay-wet palette. But you can use anything to hold the water (kitchen paper or even newspaper) and greaseproof instead of the "real" thing, although greaseproof is not as strong and may break up
He uses all sorts of acrylic: System 3, Cryla, Galleria etc. If you want to paint in a thin watercolour style, avoid acrylics with too much body - they don't take kindly to being thinned too much
Beware! Different brush manufacturers have quite different size-numbering systems. There's no such thing as a "standard No.8"!
A brush gets clogged if you use it for mixing - use a knife. Palette knives are flat but painting knives are cranked, to keep your fingers clean (so why spend money on palette knives?)
Acrylic is translucent but adding white makes colours more opaque. You can't get whiter than white, so always soften it with some other colour until you know exactly what extereme highlights you want.
Don't be afraid to paint over previous work

It's amazing that such a convincing painting can be produced in so short a time (we had a long "nibbles and mulled drink" break instead of coffee, tea and biscuits).

Thank you Jonathan for another great evening.

Pen & Wash Landscape
2008
Acrylic Landscape
2011
Return to Archive Buildings in Acrylic
2013
Winter Landscape
2014

Buildings in Acrylic , 19 March 2013
It was good to see Jonathan again. He came with a load of his books, cards and other interesting things for sale.

For work in acrylic he normally uses Daler Rowney System 3 or Cryla and an SAA stay-wet palette. He started this evening with a prepared canvas board (16" x 20" ?) and a photo on the easel.

He would normally take as much as a week over an acrylic painting, sometimes working much larger: maybe as big as 150cm. For demos he works smaller and has to limit the detail he can achieve.

The blue cast is because I'm no photographer. Sorry.
The photo was one he'd taken of part of a run-down building in Limassol, Cyprus. He wanted to feature the cracked plaster and peeling paintwork. So, after drawing basic outlines (door, window, roof line and pavement), he had plastered most of the wall area with a palette knife and textured white ceiling paint.

He could have used artists' texture medium or even very thick white acrylic paint but the acrylic ceiling paint is just as flexible and long-lasting and much cheaper.

His first coat of paint was white, yellow ochre and raw umber mixed only tentatively, with a knife, so the colour was far from uniform. Being fairly careful to follow the drawn lines he scrubbed paint onto the textured surface with a quite small flat brush (3/8" ?). No added water, apart from the small amount that is held by a damp acrylic brush.
Jonathan dried everything thoroughly and then started to build the "cracked plaster effect".

He mixed some raw umber (almost black) with water and painted this onto the wall, bit by bit, with an old round brush. He went back in almost immediately with damp tissue which removed most of it, except where it was trapped by the texture of the surface.

He used the same colours, but with much more white, for the area below the windows and for the door and window surrounds (never pure white).

There was a thin strip of sky visible and Jonathan had time to put on one coat of cobalt, with a touch of cerulean.
Then appeared some "Golden" liquid acrylic Paynes Grey (FW ink would have been as good but not heavily-watered thick acrylic). With a very small round brush Jonathan carefully painted many of the cracks, exploiting the existing texture, to establish that the sun was coming from the top right. He also mixed a little yellow ochre with white to paint the sunlit sides of the cracks.

Then the door. For this he used the same blue as the sky but with a little sap green. Again, this was not well mixed and was applied quite thickly. Neat cobalt was put on with a worn-out stiff brush and also dry-brushed for a "distressed paint" effect.
Raw umber, dragged up from the bottom of the door, showed where the paint had peeled down to the bare wood. Something very like the yellow wall colour created a knob and a handle but these were far from convincing until they were transformed when the small brush and Paynes Grey returned to add shadows - there, around the door woodwork and also on the wall again.

The Paynes Grey also went in solidly above the door, where there was a transom window. After thorough drying this provided the background for very effective broken glass - done with well-watered "Golden" liquid white.

The last few minutes were given over to examples of finishing detail: more subtle shadows; dry brush on the door and window surrounds; stone blocks around the door; water stains at the top of the wall etc.

It often happens that a demonstrator comes out with little pearls of advice. Jonathan was no exception:
Mix acrylics with a knife, not your brush, otherwise your brushes will get clogged
Baking parchment is more durable than greaseproof paper in your StayWet palette
One of the best ways to show strong sunlight is to have really dark shadows
Acrylic sticks to itself: even when totally dry - never stack or roll acrylics face to face
If you want to rub paint off, use tissue for acrylic, rag for oils
Remember: contrary to conventional watercolour, acrylic dries darker.
The painting was unfinished (neither the window nor the pavement had been addressed). Jonathan though that as well as finishing the window and pavement he might do more real work on it, perhaps adding a roof overhang, putting weeds into some pavement cracks etc.

He said he would try to remember to send me a photo of the finished version - although this might not be for several weeks. We look forward to it.

So ended another interesting evening with several brand new painting ideas. Thank you, Jonathan.
Unframed
Framed

Pen & Wash Landscape
2008
Acrylic Landscape
2011
Return to Archive Buildings in Acrylic
2013
Winter Landscape
2014

Acrylic Landscape, 15 November 2011
For acrylic painting, Jonathan often chooses Daler Rowney System 3 (student quality) and/or Cryla (artist quality, richer colour, better texture). He likes a stay-wet palette but uses capilliary matting instead of blotting paper because it can be washed (mould can be a problem if blotting paper is more than a few weeks old).

For this photo of a French farmhouse, he had decided to paint on a white canvas board, about 10" x 14".

He rarely adds water to acrylic but of course the brush should be damp. Throughout the demo he wiped the brush on a rag each time he washed it, to remove excess water before picking up more paint.
First you need to get rid of the white of the canvas. Here, where the scene is mainly blue and green, Jonathan covered the entire board with slightly diluted raw sienna (nice and warm). He scrubbed it over, using a fairly small brush with very little attempt to make it uniform (the photo may over-emphasise the unevenness).

Then started the drawing. This will all be covered over eventually, so its colour is not important (here, I think, he was using Paynes Grey, again with a litttle water). It is a rapid process, giving you the opportunity to re-compose the picture. In this case the buildings were made a little more prominent and the sky smaller than they were in the photo.
The easel cast a shadow here.
Although he mixes his colours on the palette, using a knife, he says it's important not to mix too thoroughly - subtle differences are interesting.

The sky was Cobalt and titanium white, put on with a smallish filbert, 3/8" or 1/2". He likes filberts because they are good for detail, for lines and for covering larger areas.

Above the tree tops, raw sienna, softened with a little Paynes grey warmed the sky. "Not too much grey, or you will get green". He put this along the tree line and drew it up into the blue, to stop them mixing too much (again to avoid green)
For the trees themselves he dabbed in only roughly-mixed cadmium yellow and cobalt blue with the side of the brush (filberts are good for this). A touch of Paynes grey darkens greens very nicely.

For the grassy areas Jonathan used the same greens, lightened with white. A touch of burnt sienna and white warmed some patches, with more of the sienna where signs of soil were to show. Where he wanted small highlights in the vegetation he still mixed a little burnt sienna with the white to stop it from looking too cold.

More yellow is needed in the foreground but darker areas on either side give balance. Extra dark goes behind the pale buildings, too, for light-against-dark contrast.
The buildings needed a smaller brush and, to get sharp edges, a little more water in the brush. The colours are the same, but changing the proportions of grey, white and sienna gives good roof colours and clear distinction between the buildings' sunlit and shadowy sides. Although you can barely see it from a distance, the brush strokes clarify the slope of the roofs.

Demonstrators often remind us that it helps in holding a picture together if you have the same colours in different places. Jonathan certainly drove this idea home by putting hints of grass green and earth into both sky and trees, as well as touching sky blue into the grass and bushes.
In fact, during the final 20 minutes he kept on revisiting nearly everywhere in the picture:
adding white and blue (or yellow) into the sky;
darkening some of the shadows;
lightening the distant trees with a mix of glazing medium, white and cobalt ("don't make glazes with water");
adding more light-green touches to the foliage;
drawing in one foreground tree with the side of the brush (and converting a second foreground tree into plants, for compositional reasons and foreground colour);
growing greenery along the front of the building;
repainting the small grassy fields above the nearest roof (not just adjusting their colour but darkening the bases of the trees behind them - "shadows create light")
and with a small brush adding windows and creating a door (but leaving out the cattle, for some reason).
As usual, I remember several of his more general bits of advice, too:
Mix your own Paynes Grey: ultramarine blue and burnt sienna.
For acrylic paint use acrylic (nylon-bristle) brushes - wash and dry them very thoroughly.
Acrylic paint can easily ruin brushes, even if you do put the ones you are not using in water, so don't use expensive watercolour ones for acrylic.
Don't store finished acrylics face to face - they stick together, even if thoroughly dry.
Since oils give even richer colours (?) you might use them for final detail on top of acrylic.
Thanks, Jonathan, for another interesting and useful evening.

Pen & Wash Landscape
2008
Acrylic Landscape
2011
Return to Archive Buildings in Acrylic
2013
Winter Landscape
2014

Pen and Wash landscape, 18 March 2008
Jonathan started by telling us something about his background. He is a 4th generation artist based in Reading, who has been teaching art for 16 years and has been a professional artist for the last four years. At home he often paints in acrylics, but today he demonstrated a pen and wash painting of a scene from the French Alps.

He tends to use Pilot DR pens to draw directly onto the watercolour paper, as he feels using a pen helps improve drawing due to the inability to erase mistakes.

Starting the drawing he concentrated on the houses, trees and lakeside in the centre of the painting. He didn’t do much drawing away from the centre, but used the pen to hold the painting together. Drawing a tree to hide a small mistake, he said that he likes to go over the same line several times to get a sketchy effect.

Distance was created by using less drawing and fading the lines, and the water of the lake itself wasn’t drawn as Jonathan likes to create reflections in pure watercolour.

On location Jonathan uses Winsor & Newton watercolours in pans, and tube colours are used in the studio. John mixed most of his colours in advance, which allowed him to paint vigorously once started. He used quinacridone gold, ultramarine and burnt sienna for most of the painting, adding a small amount of transparent yellow for some sunlit grass in the middle ground.

Painting the first wash Jonathan concerned himself with outlining areas, shapes and blocks without trying to delineate individual trees. He didn’t worry about back runs as the pen work tends to attract attention, but did try to leave out white shapes for white tree trunks in the picture.

He advised to vary colours in larger areas to break them. He then painted the buildings, and went back over trees that needed to be darker. He used negative shapes to bring light coloured trees forward and added shadows around the light buildings to make them stand out more. He then worked on the water reflections, wetting the areas first and keeping the shapes simplified. He dropped in dark colours which diffused on the wet paper, and later lifted out the reflections of the lighter buildings.

Finally, whilst warning himself not to ‘fiddle’, Jonathan went back over some areas with his pen to re-establish areas that were lost by the painting but without creating a ‘cartoon’ effect. The end result was a lovely atmospheric painting and a lot of learning about working in pen and watercolour.

Annette Debruijn.

Pen & Wash Landscape
2008
Acrylic Landscape
2011
Return to Archive Buildings in Acrylic
2013
Winter Landscape
2014
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