Wokingham Art Society
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Mark Warner demonstration, 16 April 2019
"Seascape in acrylics"

Visit him at www.brushmark.co.uk to see details of courses, holidays
and more examples of his work
Mark had driven all the way down from Shropshire with all his kit,
including several framed and unframed examples of his work.

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Framed paintings, advertised as 84 x 64 cm. The second is based on the same scene as tonight's demo.


Unframed examples of how he uses black Conté hard pastel with watercolour or acrylic.
Mark works in several media: mostly pencil, black Conté hard pastel, watercolour, acrylic and oils.

Sketching is important so he showed us a couple of his big sketchbooks (A4?) with sketches often covering two pages (A3?). Sometimes these were just pencil, but very often they had coloured washes on top.

The first surprise was that his easel carried a piece of saxe blue pastel paper, about 33" x 25". Alongside was a strip of the same paper. As he mixed colour he was going to dab a little onto this strip to see how it looked against the strongly coloured paper (remembering that acrylic dries very slightly darker).
He often begins by drawing with the black Conté but today he said he would go straight in with paint.

He started with Cerulean blue and a household decorator's (1"?) brush. His technique, whatever the brush, is almost always to hold it nearly parallel to the paper. The cerulean , with no added water, defined the sky down to the horizon. He probably darkened the top of the sky a bit with cobalt blue.

Then Prussian blue and white cloud was put in with a big, No.24, nylon brush, almost a mop. Mike rolls it between his fingers and pushes it away along the line of cloud.
The direction of the brush strokes is vital, although I was never quite sure which way the clouds were meant to be moving.

Adding a touch of burnt umber and/or burgundy to the mix darkened some bits of cloud. Still no water. More white, put on with a smaller brush, subtly picked out the tops.

Then the green sea - a flat brush with cobalt turquoise and a touch of yellow ochre. The colour got lighter nearer. Mark didn't seem able to leave the sea alone - even one of his beloved riggers was called into service to add texture.
Finally the foreground land surface, where he added Naples Yellow and burnt umber to the existing colours. Although it wasn't so apparent in the photo, Mark wanted a sweep of pattern to help the eye move around the picture.

To emphasize this he introduced a little black Conté and some Terracotta pale for contrast. Taking advantage of the quick-drying character of acrylic the Conté soon got painted over, only to be re-introduced a little later to define edges.

Only now did he start using a little water with the acrylic. Some of the nearer land was darkened with Prussian blue. Orange was introduced.
The palette carried all the colours he had been using and so he could always pick up the one he wanted to make touches (or sometimes quite long slashes) in any part of the picture. Almost the whole of the second part of the demo was devoted to such touching up. The original Cerulean was always prominent on the palette.

His favourite brush is the rigger - he had quite a selection of these, in different sizes. He used them not just to draw in fine lines but also quite brutally, wriggling the side of the brush, for wispy clouds, breaking waves and land.

So ended an entertaining and most instructive demo. The painting was far from finished and Mark said he may finish it at home. If so, I hope he sends me a photo of it to be added below. Than you, Mark.
I noted quite a few of Mark's general observations:
No priming is needed for acrylic on pastel paper but for board or oils he primes with clear gesso
It's worth getting good paint. He gets on well with Reeves colours and System 3 Titanium white
To lighten paint it is better to use a lighter colour rather than white (too opaque?)
Keep going. Don't give up!
When mixing paint on the palette with a brush, work it well, so you don't get nasty surprises from an unmixed bit
If you look you can find shapes in "plain" areas. Use them
Mark may have two or three paintings on the go at the same time, sometimes finding that a colour he is using in one painting can be used in another
One disciplne he adopted was to do one drawing a day for a year.
End of demo - unfinished

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