Stephen Ashurst Demonstration

Stephen Ashurst – Oil portrait


It was a chilly night in February I know and it is a shame that some of you missed this superb demonstration. With Stephen’s quiet, relaxed and easy manner he explained how he developed his technique for oil portraits, likening it to watercolour in style without the precision.  When painting commissions he tends to use photographs and sittings, but he loves the buzz of working ‘live’ and to a time limit, it certainly gives an edge to his work.


David was picked from the audience, he was a little reluctant but succumbed to Stephen’s flattery saying he had such an amazing face!  Working on a canvas board that had been primed once to give a little absorption, a detailed pencil sketch was drawn, about twice the size of the head, filling the board.


Stephen’s palette is primary colours, 2 reds, 2 blues, 2 yellows and a violet, he didn’t specify which because he didn’t think it relevant.  His brushes he now buys cheap packs from the Works and throws them away, it saves washing them. Lots of Turps is used initially giving the effect of watering down the paint.


When the sketch was finished, the first coat of ‘watery’ paint was applied finding the mid-tones in the face.  Initially using a violet as this didn’t mix well later, then introducing reds and yellows, finding the darker and lighter tones, the paint running down the face and giving some interest to the painting.  Trying to pick out the areas like eyes, shadows, contrasts, more and more paint was applied, Stephen described it as having to lose control before you make sense of it.


After the break several whites were introduced to create lighter colours rather than used starkly and with the primary colours, and less turps, Stephen then placed the colours in blobs bringing out the contours and details of the face.


Stephen was really happy and relaxed obviously enjoying painting, you could have heard a pin drop in the room we didn’t realise that we had gone over time.  It was a great success and David was a great model.  Thank you Stephen cant wait to see you at work again.

Stephen Ashurst Portraiture

Andrew Geeson

Andrew Geeson         Watercolour  Wet in Wet                            26 January 2016


Our first demonstration in 2016 was a great success with local artist Andrew Geeson demonstrating his way of working wet in wet in watercolour, which gives an impressionistic finish to his work.  Andrew developed his technique following years as an illustrator working realistically he lost his love of painting and to regain this he developed a looser, more exciting style of working.

1401b Not paper is a medium weight paper, it gives Andrew a little movement when wet which suits his style or working. Windsor & Newton’s artist and student quality paints also give the best pigment solution, as the student quality paints have less pigment in and are more easily blended.  Only two brushes are used – a big one and a little one – the big one being a size 16 which holds plenty of water, and the little one a rigger for the finer details.  A flat palette and two pots of water in clear cups (to see how murky the water is) and kitchen roll to soak up excess are the only other things that Andrew needs to produce his paintings.


Using a mount and drawing around the inside gives a ‘frame’ to work within.  Andrew says there are three things to achieving a loose picture:


  • A loose drawing
  • Loose application of paint
  • Loose interpretation of the colour of the object – not too much detail and make the colours lighter or darker than the original which gives more freedom.


So first the loose drawing, lightly sketching using dots and broken lines to get the basic structure of the painting down outlining the areas for pigment to fall within, it was essential that the lines weren’t straight, and it provided a snapshot of information and not too much detail.


Using the big brush first and giving consideration as to where the light source was coming from, working in water only in a circular motion where points of colour would go on the painting and using broken lines (don’t cover the whole area leave some dry). Then working from dark to light Andrew first used Lemon Yellow to drop colour onto the lighter areas. He followed this with Golden Ochre then Cerulean Blue to drag across for the flower heads.  Limited control was used just place the brush down and let the water go – don’t paint!  For the greens, Sap Green and Perylene Green.


Using a rolled up tissue torn off at the end just dab to lift off excess water.  Then use the rigger brush to paint the negative shapes and bring out the flowers.  The vase was built up in the same way placing the water first and using Indian red, Cerulean Blue, Gold Ochre, Violet and Sap Green for the stems.  Finish with clear water under the vase to form a base.


Andrew completed two paintings a vase of flowers and a cityscape showing that his technique worked well in both paintings, it was a brilliant start to our year, many thanks to Andrew and his son for a great evening, and the donation of one of the paintings for us to raffle for Rainbows.

Sue Faulks

Sue Faulks – Acrylic  24 November 2015

Local artist and teacher Sue Faulk’s demonstration of acrylic painting using mixed media was an inspiration to us to try and ‘do something a bit different’.  The painting Sue produced initially had been sold at a recent exhibition and working on that success felt it was worth showing how she produced it.  Using a photograph of the original as a guide and ‘one she did earlier’, Sue gave a step by step guide on how to do it.


Working much larger than she does normally and using bigger brushes, Sue started with a rough outline of the picture depicting the sky and hills in the top section of the board.  Using glue she pasted the sky area and stuck crinkled tissue paper to it, pressing it down to give a wrinkly look, repeating the process with a second layer.  Then the hills had the same tissue pasted on 4 times, to add the look of a little relief.


Next came the same process but using foil crumpled up and placed in sections down the page.  When all this was dry it was painted over in watered down emulsion (left over from the kitchen walls!  Drying was the next step.


Now was the time to start painting, using a big brush and acrylic the sky was built up in layers, followed by the mountains in a deeper blue.  Now the fun came, using many different colours, blues, greens, white Sue again built up the layers of colour painting around the foil strips.


When the painting was dry again, taking a wet wipe Sue gently rubbed off the emulsion from the foil to reveal sparkly pools of water.  Following this Sue used a soft pastel to highlight the relief on the sky and hills.  Then additional highlighted colour or white into the water below.


It was a great success, Sue’s endearing style won us all over.  We can’t wait for next year, well done Sue.

Andrew Macara

Andrew Macara  – painting in oil

27 October 2015


Its great when an artist turns up with a big canvas, not only can we all see it but in Andrew’s case we can all admire the sentiment of using big brushes to go with it.  Andrew has been painting for 50 years, he always paints in oils, he has tried watercolour once and acrylics too, but didn’t get on with either.


So he travels around the world with his fold up easel, his oil paints and canvases and captures the vivid scenes of everyday life painting as he says ‘sunshine and shadows’.


Andrew had already done a sketch in charcoal of a delightful landscape near Youlgreave in the Derbyshire Peak District (the same size as the canvas) which he propped up for us all to see.  A couple of days previously he had gone over the white canvas with a little turps and French ultramarine to dull the white down.  It was now dry and ready to be worked on.

Andrew Macara Winter sketch

Mixing Burnt Sienna and French Ultramarine (Windsor and Newton’s) he began to loosely sketch in elements of the scene, indicating a path, fence posts, trees, and where fields would lie.  Then using the ultramarine again with titanium white creating a nice medium blue colour he coloured in all the shadow elements of the painting, which left only a few areas white.


He then began to work a bit more on the trees using burnt sienna, and dotting bits of it on walls.  The sky was painted in Phylo Blue, a gorgeous zingy colour which brought the picture to life.


Next he used a rag to lift out blue areas where the snow would lie on a wall or fence post or the side of a tree, he then applied quite thickly, in quick flicks,  the snow on the tops of the stone, the high contrast with the shadow made the painting jump out.

Andrew Macara Painting

Finally he placed in the shadows children playing snowballs.  The painting would be worked on for the next couple of weeks, and then left to dry for six months before varnishing and framing.

Andrew Macara Snow Scene

It was an inspiring evening full of colour which was enjoyed by all, thank you Andrew.

Dave Woolass – pastel portrait

Dave Woolass – pastel portrait

David Woolass Pastel portrait


We were delighted to welcome Dave back this time to show us how to create a portrait in pastels.  Brian volunteered to be the ‘model’ and we watched in awe as his picture emerged.  Dave uses a variety of pastel types including pencils for fine work.

He started by blocking in dark areas and the back of the head and shoulders using various blues and purples quite freely, the use of colour was striking and not necessarily ‘flesh’ in tone.  By blocking in the colours the picture began to emerge.  The mid tones were a range of reds and yellows, with a very pale blue in place of white.

Using his ‘Dave’s Rag’ to take off pastel, blend or clean his hands, and blending softly with his fingers whilst building up the layers of pastel, by the break time the portrait was looking very real, although when you looked up close there appeared to be little detail.

After the break Dave continued to build the layers and the final portrait of Brian looked great, he and we were very pleased with the result.

David Woolass male pastel portrait


Brain next to his pastel portrait

Dave is moving to new studios in the next couple of months where he will be doing demos and workshops in a delightful rural setting. So good luck Dave and thanks for a great evening.

Crit Night!

This year our critique club night at Woodbrook Vale was hosted by Peter, with his usual wit and banter, we talked our way through over 40 paintings.  The diversity of style and medium certainly made an interesting evening, with delightful seascapes, lush landscapes, cheeky children, hideaways, dancers, gardens, a caterpillar, even a budding abstract.

Each painting was mulled over, issues talked about, if the artist had a problem, how could it be resolved? Was the framing right? Was the sea too blue? All these questions and many more were asked and answered.

The Sit and Painters brought in many examples of work done over the summer, all the paintings were done in 2 hours, out and about around Charnwood.  Working outside is a great way to improve your skills so if you are able to come and join us on a Tuesday morning, you will really enjoy it.

And what a great surprise when Pauline Allett owned up to having won the Patching’s Award for her painting of ‘Acers in Pots’ which she brought in to show us, congratulations Pauline its a lovely painting.

Pauline Allett 'Acers in Pots'
Pauline Allet Patchings Winner ‘Acers In Pots’

The evening was a great success, ending with a lovely little abstract, which was done as an experiment, the artist was encouraged to keep going and do more.

So next year all those who didn’t manage to make it  and missed out so much, make a date for your diary next August, it will be well worth it.  In the meantime keep painting we have an exhibition coming up in October at Loughborough Art Café.

Tim Rose and Hero’s Day!

The Club had a great outing at Charnwood Community Hero’s day even though the music was deafening the weather was fine and we met quite a few interesting possible new members.

The best comment of the day was the organiser came up to us late in the day and said that there was a guy further down the market place who was sketching having seen us he started again after years of not doing anything.

That’s what the day is all about!

Our club demonstration evening was fronted by artist Tim Rose, his subject was Architecture in watercolour some of his work on show included highly detailed views from inside St Paul’s Cathedral.

We were all captivated by Tim’s paintings, here’s the finished results

Barrow on Soar Street Market

What a lovely day we had in Barrow on Soar last Sunday. 

The weather was kind  and we managed to get a space with lots of steps, so perfect for displaying a few paintings. Peter brought his dog, Scrap, to help by modelling at the top of the steps, so many people came to see him as well as the paintings.

The market was very busy most of the day, people wandering about and enjoying the stalls, buying plants and cake from the WI.  We had loads of interest in the Club, especially the Beverage Club painting session which is on alternate Mondays 12.30-2.30pm.  People are always concerned as to whether they would be ‘good enough’ to join, we don’t mind how good you are, its great fun, you will improve, it doesn’t cost much and you will meet some lovely people as well, so please come and join us.

Peter handed out loads of leaflets whilst wandering around looking very ‘French’ in his stripy shirt, beret and red bandana, he even managed to sell a painting which was a bonus too!

It was a great way to promote the club and I am sure we have made some new friends, the next one will be the Heroes Day in Loughborough on August 2nd, if anyone would like to help out we would love to see you there.


Paul Howard Art Demonstration

Paul Howard Demonstration of Watercolour Pencil Techniques

Watercolour pencils are a medium which I have never used before and talking to many members last night neither had they, yet they all had some and didn’t really know how to use them to good effect.

Paul talked us through and array of techniques that can be used to create pictures using Derwent water colour pencils. Firstly he explained that there are two types of pencils, inktense and ordinary, the inktense ones are permanent colours and when dry you cannot take the pigment off, so you had to be fairly sure that what was on the paper was what you wanted. By wetting the paper first, then taking some inktense pigment off the pencil with a wet brush you are able to create wet in wet. When dry this can be worked over with other pencils using a brush to take off the pigment and apply to the paper over the top of the already dried inktense work.

After wetting the pencil dry it by sharpening it, this preserves the colour from going into a soggy mess.

Paul developed his picture with a range of techniques, including using the pencil on its side and scumbling it over an area to form trees and then applying a little water to spread the paint or using the point to draw in area or give deeper pigment. Always considering the composition of the painting and how your eye would be drawn in and through the painting.

I think these pencils would benefit me when I go out sketching, this would give me quick references to the colours around, as they can be used as either a paint or a pencil or both.

Paul was a demonstrator for Derwent for many years, he was also on the original Watercolour Challenge, but unfortunately was forced to retire from demonstrating 18 months ago when he had an injury to his arm(he was doing 50-60 demonstrations a year). He still teaches art in Boston and has many exhibitions throughout the year.