Sonia Bacchus still life in the style of old masters

Sonia Bacchus – Still life in the style of old masters

It was great to welcome Sonia back to demonstrate her take on painting a still life, using acrylic and oils.

still life scene

Starting with placing four objects carefully, not too close together and giving a sense of space, then considering the lighting and placing her lamp to maximum shadow effect.

Sonia Baccus still life sketch

The room we were in was well lit and it was hard not to be deceived by the additional light, Sonia said that if she were with her students the lights would be off altogether and only the still life lit. We will have to remember that for next time she comes she is the first artist that doesn’t mind the lights being off!

Sonia starts with a sketch of her composition, ideally a colour sketch. She worked on cardboard as it is easy to cut to size, and her choice of backgrounds are green for portraits and terracotta for other paintings.

Beginning with acrylics painted thinly she sketched out the composition outlines then applied a wash of violet, green and brown mixed with yellow ocre with a 2.5” decorators brush for the background. Using varying brush strokes for impact and interest.

Then using thin layers of acrylic finding the lights, darks and mid-tone of the under painting getting the basic colours in place.

Sonia Baccus still life demonstration

The second half of the demonstration moved to oils, with her preference for Reeves, Windsor & Newton, Rowney oils. Using painting medium to thin the paint Sonia began building up the layers to create impact.

Sonia chatted her way through the demonstration giving lots of information about how the “Old Masters” were painted, and lots of tips on how we can have a go too. Then demonstrated how colours can react to each other when placed together, often giving a different hue than imagined. It was a great demonstration, appreciated by all thank you Sonia!

The following week we turned up at the new Nanpantan Art group session, set up a still life and Barry said he was going to have a go at painting the way Sonia demonstrated the week before, starting with Acrylics then moving on to oils, to make it more of a challenge he did a double act with Neil both working on the same picture.


A couple of us joined in, with the Acrylics, it was a very good exercise, we all enjoyed it, and of course Barry and Neil’s painting was awesome even though still a work in progress.


If you would like to come and join us at Nanpantan Art Group, whatever your standard we would love to meet you.

Nanpantan Painting Group

Here’s a couple of pictures from our Nanpantan Painting Group.

It’s an informal painting session where you can join in with the still life or you can bring along your own pieces to work on. Each week is different and it’s also a great social occasion and a chance to share tips and opinions on each others art work.

We are still looking for more people to come and join us, if you do want to come along here are the details, it will be great to see you!

Nanpantan Painting Group, Sports ground Bowls Club, Nanpantan, Loughborough 1st and 3rd Monday of every month 7pm-9pm. £3 for members.

Christine Adams Flowers in Watercolour

CHRISTINE ADAMS – flowers in watercolour

Our first professional demonstrator for 2017, Christine Adams set the calendar off with a delightful splash of colour giving the illusion of a still life pot with flowers. With her easy style and humorous anecdotes we were in for an entertaining evening.

Christine Adams watercolour demonstration


Christine uses Bockingford 140gm stretched in the bath, she likes painting large, the bigger the better. Her love of flowers came from feeling uncomfortable painting landscapes alone in the countryside, and by using real flowers the colour combinations could zing out with her impressionistic style. Using three reds, three yellows and three blues, she creates all the colours she needs and will only use Windsor & Newton because, she says, they are the best. Although she doesn’t like the new tubes because you can’t see what you have got – W&N take note!

A large blank canvas and a pot of flowers should be quite daunting when you don’t sketch out what you are painting, not so for Christine who likes to work flat at home in the studio, as she likes to see how the colours work with each other. For our benefit the work was upright and the composition progressed in sections, wetting the paper with a sponge as she worked and using a large part sable brush, paint was applied capturing the general feel of where flowers would be placed. The composition was as much about where the paint fell and how it looked and the still life merely used as a guide.

There were plenty of tips along the way, like when using blues in the painting they come forward and for foliage which was meant to be behind it didn’t look right, so tone them back. Also when painting the centre of a flower (say) in a bolder colour, don’t use the same colour as a shadow as it just looks like another flower centre.

Christine Adams watercolour

Christine painted a fabulously colourful still life, creating the illusion of flowers, giving us all the inspiration to have a go. Thank you Christine, what a great start to the year.

PS. If you feel uncomfortable about going out into the landscape to paint on your own, then join the Walk and Draw group on Tuesday mornings, get some fresh air and sketch along the way.