Wokingham Art Society
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Oils, marine, demo by Tony Parsons, 20 March 2018
Visit him at www.artistonthehill.co.uk or, for his caricaturist alter ego,www.twistedportrait.co.uk
Other examples of Tony's work.
Tony had brought a photo he had taken of the river at Lewes, and a canvas-covered board prepared with acrylic gesso and a layer of Paynes Grey. Gessoed canvas is a nice texture for oil painting. Mixed with Polyfiller it can give more texture but if you use a lot it becomes too absorbent.

Zest-It is better than turps if you are worried about the smell. Daler-Rowney Georgian Studio paint is generally good vakue for money although if you want genuine pthalo colours or turquoise you have to pay more for them. Tonight he would be using primarily titanium white, cobalt blue, cadmium red and yellow. If you use too many different colours they will clash.

Tony started with a fairly big hog/bristle brush and well-diluted paint, planning to move to an acrylic brush only when he wanted more precision (with creamier paint). He reminded us that in oils you work from dark to light, that you will be working on wet paint all the time and that you should remember the "fat" (more oil, creamier) over "lean" (more turps, watery) rule - for cleaner colour and to minimise cracking.
He mixed a dark brown, slashing in rough marks, almost dry brush, to get the composition right. He changed colour when he realised he needed to move features like the boat and the waterline of the river.

Long before I would have expected him to be thinking of such things he commented that since boats have no right angles you need a good understanding of perspective if you are to get them right.

Remembering that paler, more neutral colours imply distance, he painted over the sky with a pale blue (cobalt and white). There was a touch of darker ultramarine higher up and some ochre for interest. The lower part of the sky became almost white.

He wanted the painting to look more misty than the photo and so he "paled" the distant buildings with glazes of white. Beware of using cadmium yellow in the sky - you are much too likely to end up with green.

When Tony started into more detail he used a 3/8 flat Pro Arte white nylon brush. This holds more paint than the hog brushes he had been using but a lot of the marks he made were still almost dry-brush.

Shadowed areas are, of course lit by the sky or by reflections, so a duck-egg blue is pretty safe for white areas that are in shadow. Reflections in the water are done by dragging the colours down before hinting at ripples with horizontal marks.

For the right hand side he created entirely imaginary buildings to replace the rather unattractive white block that was actually there.
As the work progressed Tony was making more and more small, meticulous although often unexplained marks. A little purple warmed up the whitest part of the sky. He cut around the bridge and some of the rooftops with highlight colour (slightly warmed-up white) but repeatedly went back in to reinforce the darks.

Masts and rigging (useful to tell the viewer that the marks below them represent a boat!), were done freehand. Lines are best if they are broken, so people are left to do some interpretation.

For the foreground rocks and river he did want greens (made of blue mixed with cadmium yellow and/or burnt sienna).

Little touches of paint became chimneys along the otherwise rather plain rooftops. Some such touches introduced small areas of colour. Very many tiny adjustments (often to the background - negative painting) further defined the shape of the boat and other features.
As is almost always the case, the final half hour is a magic time. The countless small marks, often not explicitly explained nor representing any obvious feature of the subject, bring everything to life.

And, by the way, I noted several other interesting comments:

He uses a pseudonym when he paints cheesy robins and the like for the American market (including Hallmark cards)
"Value" (or tone) is probably more important than colour (hue).
Don't drink and drive - I mean "Don't drink and paint" - that, too, can lead to bad results
He buys most of his supplies from the Seawhite of Brighton factory shop. He recommends Daler-Rowney and Farrow and Ball's colours, too.

Thanks Tony, for a most informative evening.
End of demonstration

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