Previous Demonstrations

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A Workshop with Dave White

Members and guests of the Society enjoyed a special day with Dave White leading the workshop "Creating a Seascape" in acrylics. We met in St Andrew’s Church Centre, comfortably shielded from the snowy scene unfolding outside!

Dave set the scene, explaining the use of support & canvas versus paper, types of brushes, and a chosen selection of artists acrylic paints - including Hookers Green, Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna, Titanium White, Cadmium Yellow and Red. We also covered the use of the colour chart and identifying complementary colours which make for an interesting composition.

Dave explained the importance of establishing a vanishing point and sectioning canvas in thirds using chalk. Various techniques were explained such as painting realistic clouds, and identifying where movement and light influenced the composition. We learnt to portray foam by splattering white paint.

By the end of the day everyone felt more confident with the techniques, and Dave offered advice to those who had sketches/ideas so that they could progress further at home.

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Barnstorming Joe Dowden

Local artist - and window-cleaner! - Joe Dowden provided a quip-filled afternoon for our large audience. Working on a large scale for watercolour he started by showing how he marked out his drawing on an overlay paper... which he attached to the actual drawing so he could "refind" marks as the painting progressed.

Soon Joe was down to work... literally as much of the time had to be spent with the paper "on the flat".

When we could not see what was being done, Joe ensured we knew his colour and brush choices. If Joe has one mantra, it is that watercolourists should not be so constrained by tradition. "Break the rules" was a repetitive suggestion. Joe uses - and recommends - a camera tripod to hold his work rather than an easel. This allowed him to unclip the painting quickly and show progress to us.

Throughout the demo, Joe entertained us with stories ... some of them even related to art! Importantly, he encouraged us to seek out the work of relatively unknown artists in Britain from the old USSR, China, Japan and USA. These people did not feel the need to adopt those traditions previously mentioned and could show how modern watercolour could be used.

Taking time to answer questions from the floor, Joe came to the point of unveiling what he had managed in something less than two hours - much to the appreciation of all those in the audience.

Our thanks to Joe, not just for a fine painting but such an entertaining afternoon.

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Rick Holmes kicks off our new year

We were pleased to welcome pastel artist, Rick Holmes, on what was his first ever visit to Ferring. As a member of the Wapping Group, it was no surprise that he chose as his subject a Thames bridge ... how he went about it was more surprising. Working on pre-primed mountboard, he proceeded to apply dark acrylic inks with a roller! Next he used a credit-sized card to apply small marks of Chinese black ink to plot the key elements of his subject. Those watching were relieved when he said "Believe me, pastel will come"!

Rick prefers Unison soft pastels supported by Conte (square edge) and pastel pencils where more detail is required. He tends to blend only the sky areas and applies individual pastel marks across the rest of the painting. One reason for the ink/acrylic background is that this creates the "darks" against which the pastel tones can be best judged. Like so many pastel users, he had a bag load of broken pieces. However, as he chooses colours for the individual painting he keeps them on a separate tray. This helps to keep to a relatively limited palette and create a more harmonious design. Soon the image began to emerge...

Rick had no magical formula for painting ... neither light to dark nor vica versa. Rather, it was whatever seemed most appropriate. His aim was to create a "loose realistic" style, already evident in the emerging painting. When working from a photograph, Rick suggested the use of black and white images to help with tonal values while allowing the artist to be selective over colour choices. However, Rick is a regular outdoor painter and waxed lyrically on the benefits to be gained from regular "plein air" painting. His one caveat was to restrict time to about 2 hours as the sun's movement over a longer period could lead to problems.

With over 30 people attending, there were many questions throughout the demo all answered clearly by Rick aided by his gentle humorous style. To supplement today's painting, he had brought a wealth of previous work for all to enjoy and had time to share several fully-framed works ... wryly remarking that these were the onesnot selected for the latest Pastel Society Mall exhibition - though he does have one in there!

Our thanks to Rick for a super start to our 2018 demos. Don't forget you can see Rick in action again on Monday evening, 26th February at the Mall (painting alongside Roger Dellar and Geoff Hunt) as part of the Wapping Group exhibition at the Mall Gallery.

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2017 archive