Wokingham Art Society
Demos by Ben Manchipp
Visit his page at www.manchipp.com
or contact him at ben@manchipp.com
Landscape 2013 Back to Archive Boats 2016

Paintings of boats in watercolour: 19 January 2016
Boats may not be his favourite subject but Ben Manchipp has exhibited at the Royal Society of Marine Artists and has won its "Classic Boat Award". He has also had his work shown at the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours and exhibits at the Mall Galleries. Several very impressive examples of his work showed why he was so successful. Tonight's demo is in watercolour although Ben paints in all media. He admitted to having given this talk several times: this was "Mark 4".

The shapes of boats can be tricky - it may help to draw a proper perspective box and put the boat inside it (we'll come back to this). Alternatively, put the boats in a landscape so they can be more distant and out of focus! We rather missed out on the important drawing phase because he had already done his outline drawings.

Ben talking with Sue Smith
The demo-proper started with mid-tone darks, using a grey granulating mix of ultramarine and burnt sienna. He prefers this to Paynes Grey because it doesn't stain and can be lifted out more easily. Subsequent glazes give darker darks. Texture (or correction) can be achieved by dabbing the wet paint out with cloth or tissue.

Colour can be added over the grey underpainting, again by multiple glazes

Sometimes he wants a fully-detailed under-painting that won't be affected by later washes.
According to my notes Ben suggested sepia acrylic (or, cheaper, sepia watercolour with PVA glue) for such an underpainting but I must have misheard: I would not have expected to be able to paint watercolour successfully over acrylic.

Having the shadows in first makes it much easer to place the detail : a good underpainting takes a lot of the stress away.

Ben's paintings are built up from many small "once-only" strokes. He draws a lot of detail, relying heavily on riggers, especially for straight lines (no ruler). Colour is put in both wet into wet and wet on dry, but if you want to glaze the undercoat must be bone-dry.
After the coffee break Ben was asked to say more about drawing boats by using a perspective box.

He illustrated this with some pre-drawn examples, stressing that if you are faced with a complex shape it helps no end to relate it to a simple one. The box does not need to be precisely drawn, nor is it necessary that the boat fits exactly into the box.

As Ben continued his continuous stream of interesting repartee he reminded us that the top of a boat is not flat: it is lower amid-ships than at the bow and stern
It was clear that the box was valuable in showing how thwarts and other linear features should be drawn and that it helps with the placing of the planks in clinker-built hulls.. It also makes sure that features like masts; booms and cabins are lined up right.

As usual, I've only managed to record a few of the many comments and suggestions Ben made during his talk.
He likes to draw on site and use a camera to have a record of the lighting
"A bad drawing results in a bad painting". You can trace a good drawing onto the support/base so that if the painting fails you still have the original drawing and don't have to re-create it
Don't try to use colour to hide a poor drawing or underpainting. "Thick paint is popular with people who can't draw"
Watercolour or thin oils each allows lovely dramatic work.

Thanks, Ben, for another interesting evening. As you were told by an onlooker "If I could draw like that I would draw £5 notes!"
Landscape 2013 Back to Archive Boats 2016

Landscape in Oils: 17 Sept 2013

Ben Manchipp began his demonstration with a couple of amusing anecdotes, which got things off to a flying start!

Then he told us how he starts with a pencil sketch of his subject, at full size. His reference this evening was a photograph of a South Downs landscape. The sketch is then traced onto a canvas board, using a red biro over the keyline trace, with a grey carbon sheet underneath, so he can see where he has been.

Using masking tape the area of the picture is marked out on the board. Then an underpainting is made, with .acrylic ink. As all this takes Ben about two and a half hours, he came with his grisaille picture all ready.


Red biro on tracing
The painting then proceeded using thin glazes of oil paint so that the underpainting could still be seen. Ben uses a limited palette of lemon yellow, yellow ochre, sap green, burnt sienna, ultramarine and white. He gave us a few tips; use a white mixing palette if you are using a white painting board; use Liquin to thin the paint as it speeds up drying.

Ben blocked in the nearest fields in his picture explaining that the white of the canvas shines through, and also placed some dark shadows to contrast with the bright areas. He blocked in the sky with a thin blue glaze, and then used a slightly darker blue for the distant trees.

He kept adjusting the tones using a cloth to wipe off paint and adding more paint where needed.

Later a fine synthetic rigger was used to suggest grass in the foreground, and the hedgerow and nearer trees were put in with a darker green.

The masking tape was peeled off to leave a crisp clean edge to the painting.

We were given some useful advice about framing. Ben said we should be very careful about buying frames in charity shops; they are rarely in good enough condition. Mounts should almost always be in a neutral off white colour. And why not paint a frame that is the wrong colour in a safe neutral tone?

Thank you Ben for a most interesting and entertaining evening!

Pat Johnson

End of demo. See finished result below.
A few days later Ben sent his photo of the finished painting, with this covering note;

"Following the demo to the group I waited untill the oils were dry and then put in the middle and far distance as glazes over the underpainting.

"The middle distance was next with the bright lemon yellow fields added where appropriate. Next the foreground, with the fine detail on the gate and the fence posts that emphasise the distance between this area and the far distance.

"The crispness of the foreground compared to the softer middle and far distance also helps with the perspective and the scale".
Landscape 2013 Back to Archive Boats 2016

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This document is maintained by Sam Dauncey