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.

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

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.

Ian Risley Demonstration

Ian Risley Pastel Artist

 Local artist Ian Risley demonstrated pastel techniques on April’s club night.  His relaxed style and humour engaged us whilst explaining the merits of different pastels and how to use them, and the paper he used spending time on deciding which colour paper to use that would enhance the picture.  He showed us the way he used blending techniques by placing a little pastel colour at the side of the paper and using a stump picked up a little colour to add into the painting.  Also how to sharpen pastel pencils taking the wood away with a blade and using sandpaper to develop the point.

Ian explained how over the years he had developed his style from blending the whole picture to now blending the under-painting and not doing so on the top layers.   The subject for the evening was a Barn Own, which Ian started off by drawing the outline with charcoal, then taking off some of the black to leave more of an imprint, as he didn’t want to spoil the white that would go on top.  Then working from dark to light, and spending some time on the eyes and the main structure of the bird, using different colours and building up the layers.  Finally he put on some white which completed the bird, then he finished off the perch.

Ian never fixes any pastel paintings as he says it dulls the colours, and if framed correctly they would be ok.  In the final few minutes he asked if there were any questions and an interesting discussion took place.

He produced a lovely little barn owl, which he says are very popular, people always buy them, and lucky us, he donated it to the club!  Thanks Ian.

Wildlife Painter Ian Risely
Wildlife Painter Ian Risely


Charles Evans demonstration

In March we had the pleasure of a visit from Charles Evans, a popular artist, demonstrator and TV personality.  He travels the country demonstrating and doing workshops using Windsor and Newton products, of which he says there are 150 colours in their range and he uses only 8!

Charles produced two watercolours, one before the break and one after, with a running commentary with many tips and wrinkles along the way.  The first scene could have been in the Northumbrian hills, taking a pencil he drew a simple scene with hills and valleys.  Then with a big brush and loads of water he wet the sky area, again with his large brush swept colours into it, he then squeezed out the brush and began to take out colour to form the clouds, moving it from one place to another, it was very effective.  Sky done.

Now on to the hills, building colours, mixing on the palette and dropping them into the picture and leaving a blank line right across the middle.  Filling in the foreground with the lighter colours, building them up as well – they all dry 50% lighter..  Finally the blank line in the middle, lots of different darker shades were sploshed into it, and then whilst still wet, Charles produced a piece of plastic, not unlike a credit card and began scraping across the tops of the dry stone wall and forming the bricks within it – amazing effect!

He then started darkening the foreground under the wall and to the front of the picture, telling us to mix a black never use a premixed one as it makes the picture flat, the final touch was scraping upwards with his finger nails to create grasses within the wall which was also an interesting and effective technique.

Charles second painting was at the seaside, again building the sky first, then the coastal hills and sea areas, again using his credit card to scrape out the rocks on the beach and the headland, a few darker spots to emphasise the grasses coming over the headland and the picture was almost done.  He then showed us how to place people in the picture, he said we must remember a letter ‘P’ and ‘Y’,  ‘P’ forming the body with a head on top, and ‘Y’ forming the legs.

It was a very entertaining evening, much banter and a lot of hints and tips along the way, most people seemed to enjoy it.  Charles donated the paintings to the club, thank you Charles looking forward to seeing you again.