Peonies in Water-Mixable Oils (How do they compare to Acrylics?)

Peonies in Water-Mixable Oils (How do they compare to Acrylics?)

Will Kemp, Peonies (Detail) Acrylic & Water-mixable Oils on Canvas, 60.96 cm x 60.96 cm (24 inch x 24 inch)

Over the New Year, I’ve been in the studio working up a large scale floral still life painting, from a series of sketches I did over the summer. The original composition had been inspired by the dramatic oil paintings of the Dutch Golden Age (you can see the progress of my painting further down the article).

To achieve the soft blends between the petals, delicate smoked edges and the ability to work across subtle shifts in hues, oils would allow me a longer working time. Then I could build up the painting as a whole piece, adjusting tones, working wet-into-wet.

But being in the middle of a British winter and the studio doors firmly shut with little ventilation, the thought of having a pot of thinners or strong solvents in an enclosed space was discouraging me from getting started.

After a prolonged period of procrastination, it occurred to me, maybe it was time to break out the water-mixable oils.

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How to Choose a Colour for a Tonal Ground (My Top 5 Pigment Choices)

How to Choose a Colour for a Tonal Ground (My Top 5 Pigment Choices)

Inspired by the dramatic, dark Flemish oil paintings I saw in Antwerp; I’ve just started working on a still life set up of some fab oversized pink peonies. I’m going to begin simply with acrylics then build up the piece using water-mixable oils.

Yesterday, I talked about the importance of a coloured ground and how this very simple step of preparing your canvas, can transform your working method. And I received lots of emails asking
‘How do you go about choosing a colour for your tonal ground?’

Well, the first thing I do is make a decision.

What is the most important thing or the most important problems that I can foresee within the painting I’m going to be working on?

For this still life, judging the values of the flowers and getting the drawing right are going to be the two trickiest areas –  but get them right….and they can pull the whole painting together. Choosing a sympathetic tone for the coloured ground will help me achieve this.

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Inside the Artist’s Studio, Ruben’s House & the Art of Antwerp

Inside the Artist's Studio, Ruben's House & the Art of Antwerp

Peter Paul Rubens, Detail from The Assumption of the Virgin, Oil on Panel, 1626

The rhythmic sound of African drums echoed through the vast interior of the Cathedral.

It was an unexpected acoustic experience, and the historical tour we’d seen advertised was looking increasingly unlikely.

There was just Vanessa and me waiting patiently at the back of the Cathedral when the tour guide arrived; she was getting extremely agitated. She hadn’t known the performance was on, the volume was too loud, a new musical set had just started, and her tension was building.

She was miffed.

But then our saviour came, a gentleman from Romania. Our tour of two had become three. We were off to the races.

I was in Antwerp (just last month) exploring Ruben’s home and studio, but nothing had prepared me for the pure brilliance of his works that lay only a few steps from our hotel lobby, hidden behind the doors of the Cathedral of Our Lady. 

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Urban Sketch for Beginners – Ink & Watercolour Garden Sketch

Morning class, this week I’ve been in Corsica exploring the North Coast of the Island.

Sketching your surroundings can be such a fantastic way to create a visual diary of your travel experiences, so when I’m walking around the streets of any new town or city, I always carry a small sketchbook in my backpack.

A couple of tonal sketching pens and a brush pen is usually all I need, always trying to keep my kit as simple and minimal as possible.

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NEW Beginners Acrylic Colour Mixing Course is Live!


 

Learn more about the course here: New Simple Colour Mixing Course

I’ve designed this brand new, downloadable video course to help you understand the theory behind colour mixing, discover how to mix and match colours accurately and then put theory into practice, creating a series of 4 still life paintings.

You might have been struggling to understand colour mixing for years, sometimes getting it spot on but other times when it goes wrong, have no idea why or how to fix it?

Or maybe you’ve read articles on colour theory but not had the confidence to put that new knowledge into an actual painting practice?

On this colour mixing video course, we take a really simple practical approach, over 5 hours + of tuition, you’ll gain an understanding of the properties of paint, learn the foundations of colour theory and put brush to canvas.

And we’re just going to take it one step at a time, starting with learning the language of colour, everything broken down simply so that the painting exercises and studies give you the confidence you need to develop your colour mixing skills.

I demonstrate using a traditional, 3 primary & 3 secondary colour wheel to teach you a step-by-step approach and working through these progressive tutorials; you’ll be guided by your new colour mixing intuitions, opening up the fantastic world of colour.

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