Wokingham Art Society
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Chris Jones demonstration
"Painting a bird in acrylic ", 21 March 2017

Visit him at www.chrisjonesart.com/
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Chris-Jones-Artist-206801309358296/
Write-up by Fred Bennett ______________Photos by Rod Jones
Chris has exhibited widely, both in the UK and US, including at the Royal West Academy, Royal Institute of Oil Painters and the Society of Wildlife Artists, and has featured in a variety of general and specialist publications. He paints in acrylic or oils and tonight used acrylic because of its rapid drying properties.

Chris's subject was a Barn Owl in a straw-lined alcove. He made an initial pencil drawing after which there were three phases (or occasionally more) for the actual painting.
Phase One: Applying the black. Using black paint the dark areas of the picture were established. This provides the framework for all the subsequent painting and begins the process of calming down the whiteness of the original drawing. Some dilution of the black allows for varying tones to be defined. Large areas with few tone changes (e.g. the sky) will be left untouched at this stage. To paint the straw diluted black was used with the brush strokes setting the direction of the straws. The straw highlights were left unpainted. A start on the bird's feathers was also made,again with the brush strokes indicating the direction of the feathers. An indication of the direction of the light was made by showing the light and the cast shadows on the straw. At this stage the painting looked like an elegant lino-cut.  
Phase Two: Adding colour, working dark to light Now thin colours were used. The very dark area around the subject was made warmer using a wash of Burnt Sienna. Then the straw was tinted using mid-tones of Raw-Sienna and hints of Cadmium Yellow and Cadmium Orange. Some preliminary detailing of the straw was begun using a little Naples-Yellow,while the darker areas in the straw were completed using grey made mixing white and Mars-Black. Varying strengths of the grey were used to complete the removal of any remaining white from the gesso. Some work was now begun on the Owl showing the shadows of the main feather groupings
Phase Three Consolidating the colour and refining the details This stage is where thicker paint is used and the final colour values are set.Chris concentrated on the Owl starting with the eye which was the darkest motif in the painting and then built up the other colours. Since the Owl had small value changes across its body the paint was made thicker but not necessarily darker. Because of the rapid drying times Chris was able to overpaint and correct any colour values he did not like. Finally the bright moments in the painting could be added using heavier white paint. Now that the lights and darks were set it was possible to adjust any variations in intensity in the straw,and to do this it was alright to paint light to dark as well as dark to light. Further painting would be possible -phase four,five etc. but Chris felt this would depend on the finish that was wanted.The final painting showed a very real owl in a convincing setting.
Materials. Watercolour paper was prestretched on a board,coated with two layers of acrylic gesso and lightly sanded. The paint used was Liquitex Heavy Body acrylic which is suitable for impasto but can be easily thinned. The brushes were by Rosemary & Co series 301 Nos 6 and 8 rounds. These brushes have synthetic fibres and are suitable for watercolour or acrylic. Finally Chris uses a disposable palette.

He does not use a wet palette since he finds this can lead to the paints being too thin. For his professional work Chris uses MDF gessoed on both sides to prevent warping. Again the gesso is sanded.
End of demo

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