New Year, New View? How a Few Small Changes Influenced my Portrait Painting Style

portrait-painting-oil-glazing-techniques

There was a small sign that hung below an empty black space, it read ‘In Prestito‘.

On loan.

Last Summer I was back in Florence, Italy, to visit one of my favourite paintings that had enticed me to the city over 10 years ago.

The only problem was, when I got to the gallery, the painting wasn’t there.

It was at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna and I had missed it.

The painting?

Caravaggio’s sleeping Cupid.

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Urban Sketching For Beginners Drawing Course – New Course!

Urban Sketching For Beginners Drawing Course - New Course!Morning Class!

This new Urban Sketching for Beginners Course, reveals how observing everyday life can give an eye-opening appreciation for the towns and cities that we live in.

You don’t need to drive out to the country to draw from life, from an artistic point of view, urban settings have just as much appeal!

The lessons follow a logical progression, from sketching static buildings and monuments to capturing the movement of individual figures and bustling crowds, enabling you to practice your drawing skills and create fast, bold urban sketches with pencils, pens, or watercolors—whatever tools you have on hand.

Topics include:

  • Choosing your materials
  • Building structure into your drawing
  • Sketching architecture
  • Capturing panoramic views of a city
  • Drawing people in cafes
  • Sketching movement
  • Bringing it all together in a start-to-finish drawing

This online drawing course shows you how to draw from life, learn how to draw buildings, street scenes, cafés, and people and you can read more here.

 

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An Art Material Addicts Guide to becoming a Minimalist Sketcher

urban sketching in Florence

Hi, my name is Will and I am an art material addict.

When the new season art catalogue arrives, I prepare a large cafetiere of coffee, find a comfy chair and indulge in a little bit of window shopping.

If I spot a new ‘innovative ink system’, it’s hard to imagine how my drawings can exist without it.

And if a magazine states ‘Free Pen (RRP £30) when you spend £50 or more on drawing products’ I’d be a fool to miss out!

But the reality is, when I take my sketches out of the studio into the city or countryside, there is a recurring theme.

Most of the new materials I buy are left behind in my growing number of art supply boxes and I find myself grabbing the same few trusted pens that work well together – again and again.

In fact, to create a huge variety of styles, it’s probably less than 10 materials and that includes different ink colours.

So this week I want to introduce you to my Top #4 Minimalist City Slicker combination sets that I actually use when I’m out sketching on location…

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Urban Sketching Tutorial for Beginners (Free 10 minute Video Lesson)

pen-bike-sketch-detail small

This week we’re going to bring our pen sketching skills into the urban environment.

Sketching your surroundings can be such a fantastic way to create a visual diary of your daily experiences and I’m always a sucker for a sketch of a bike.

This video tutorial looks at how you can use different thicknesses of pens to create variety in your sketches, and how thinking about the surrounding shapes outside your main subject can add context to your drawings.

A Step-by-Step Urban Sketching Lesson

How do you start a sketch?…

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Inside Rembrandt’s Studio

outsideannefrankamsterdam

Earlier in the Summer, I took an impromptu trip to see ‘Late Rembrandt‘.

It was the first time that an exhibition had been solely dedicated to Rembrandt’s late works. Many of the most famous paintings that he produced in the last 15 years of his life had been brought together from museums and private collections across the globe.

This period is often the most celebrated due to Rembrandt’s development of a more gestural, impressionistic style and this was some 200 years before the popularity of the Impressionists.

He was out there!

I’d missed the exhibition when it was on show in London at the National Gallery but for the final leg of the tour it was going home to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Heavy dark shadows, hidden brooding eyes, thick scratchy textured marks, lots of Brown umbers and a dirty yellow varnish glow are all the things that excite me about Rembrandt’s self-portrait style.

With the allure of Nutella Waffles, the opportunity to visit Rembrandt’s Studio and the once in a lifetime chance of seeing so many Rembrandt’s up close together, how could I resist…

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New Landscape Sketching Course is Live

how to sketch outside
I’ve just finished creating a new sketching course taking some of my drawing techniques out of the studio into the countryside.

In ‘The Essential Guide to Sketching the Landscape’ we look at new materials, techniques but most importantly what ‘works’ in a landscape sketch, from composition and simple perspective to changing your viewpoint to achieve maximum results.

Developing the habit of thumbnail sketches can build your confidence when gathering reference information out on location and you’ll become used to using your sketchbook to its full advantage, without feeling pressured to make every piece a finished work of art.

If you want to learn more about discovering the simple pleasure of sketching outdoors, soaking up the sounds and atmosphere click here to watch an intro video to the course

Cheers,

Will

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Painting, Pasties & Padstow – A Cornish Painting Trip

Rames Head

Considering it was mid-April in England, we were treated to some truly amazing weather.

We’d travelled down the coast to an area of South East Cornwall called ‘The Forgotten Corner’. Often overlooked due to its remote location but we found some cracking little-secluded coves and practically empty sandy beaches.

Artist’s have always been drawn to Cornwall due to the quality of light and mild climate, but the trip for me was all about getting to the sea.

The ever changing tide, the allure of cliff edges, the great expanse of sky and the unpredictable power of the waves.

We wanted to get to the edge, be battered by the elements and this was the closest we could find.

view from our window

 View from our cottage window – Rame Peninsula, Cornwall

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Singer Sargent & Friends

An Artist in His Studio,1904

An Artist in His Studio, John Singer Sargent, 1904

Last month saw the opening of a new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

The show highlights the work of one of my favourite portrait painters, John Singer Sargent (1856 – 1925)

I’ve been a fan of Singer Sargent’s paintings ever since visiting the Tate in London as 15 year old student, blown away by Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose, the most compelling scene with its magical sense of glowing light.

Carnation lily lily rose

Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose, John Singer Sargent, Oil on canvas, 1885

I’d always thought it was quite a small painting having only seen it in books, but in reality it’s nearly 2 meters tall by 1.5 meters wide, the sheer scale of it being life-size really draws you into the piece. The golden hour light is fading and the glow from the lanterns illuminates the girls faces so beautifully.

And that’s often the most fantastic thing about visiting an exhibition, the experience of sitting in front of the painting and seeing it through the artist’s eyes…

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On Painting, Procrastination and What Might Have Been

acrylic abstract painting

 “For of all sad word of tongue or pen, the saddest are these. “It might have been.”
John Greenleaf Whittier

I always feel so sad when I read this quote, “It might have been…”

What a waste.

So many aspiring artists come to me with a real passion for learning how to paint and ask me where they should start?

Not knowing where to begin or muddling along on your own can be really slow progress and eventually the paints can spend more time in your box than on your canvas.

Your dreams of becoming a painter get lost.

But you were so close!

If you came to my studio with the question ‘I have a week to learn how to paint, what do I need to know?

I’d strip the learning process down to basics, the fewest brushes, a few key colours and an essential introduction to the wide properties of acrylics.

Materials and set up, colour mixing and pigment choice, brush handling and palette knife techniques and gels and mediums.

Then we’d get painting using methods that achieve great results even if you’ve got no artistic training.

Why Acrylics?

Acrylics can be used in thin transparent washes like water colours or in a thicker more opaque form like oil paint.

They dry quickly and can be diluted and cleaned with water making them simple to use, odourless and accessible for the beginner.

So when are you coming round, right?

If you’ve never even picked up a pencil I’d always usually recommend learning how to draw. Which I know sounds a little deflating … you want to learn how to paint!

However, learning to draw sets you so far ahead, so quickly, it really is the most ‘bang for your buck’ for a set of principles that don’t change.

But what if the allure of colour is too much to resist and you want to get straight into painting?

Well, I’ve been working on a new course just for you…

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On Tate, Turner & Unlikely Partnerships

turner margate

J.M.W Turner, Margate (?) from the sea, about 1835-40

11 years ago on a very cold winters morning I was poised with a dripping wet floor mop, recreating a painting by J.M.W Turner.

My audience were a group of five cleaners from the Museum I worked at.

The workshop wasn’t really going to plan.

I was trying to teach this group of absolute beginners how to paint like Turner in a morning.

At the end of the morning workshop their finished paintings would be displayed in an exhibition, open to the public.

Oh, the other artist who was exhibiting in the exhibition?

The main man himself, a collection of original Turner watercolours.

Now where did I put that mop?…

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How to Paint Acrylic Portraits

acrylic portrait painting tutorialPainting portraits with acrylics can be frustrating.

It can seem that you’re facing an uphill struggle.

After the pleasure of not getting headaches from toxic turpentine and being able to paint with thick impasto marks there seems to be double payback for daring to tackle a portrait with acrylics.

Not only do the colours appear unsophisticated and garish but the paint dries too quickly to blend together successfully, especially when you’re trying to mix subtle skin tones.

You can be left feeling disappointed with your results, admit defeat and crack out the thinners for another go with the Oils.

I’ve been working on a new portrait course, that can help develop your portrait skills and dramatically shorten your learning curve to achieving classical looking portraits with acrylics…

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Landscape Sketching in the Highlands

dunvegan sketchpad

After a long drive we arrived at Laundry cottage in the pitch black, the only sound was running water from the nearby waterfall.

There had been a few minor worries en-route, slight overheating, suspicious drips from under the car and the Sat-Nav had given up the ghost but we were here…and the pack of shortbread left as a welcome gift was quickly consumed!

It was only the next morning we truly appreciated the setting we were in.

Surrounded by lochs, mountains in the distance and a spectacular view of Dunvegan Castle out of the cottage window…

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How to Draw Light & Shadow Course is Live!

light and shade banner

I’ve just finished creating a new drawing course that follows on from the Absolute Beginners Drawing Course.

In ‘How to Draw Light & Shadow for Beginners’ we look at new materials, techniques and work on some figurative drawings. A lot of students come to me who already have basic understanding of drawing and confidence with pencils but feel there is a gap in their knowledge when using different drawing mediums.

This course has been designed to help bridge the gap between graphite pencil drawings to charcoal, chalk and pens and subtlety introduce colour.

Are you stuck in a ‘pencil loop’ ?

Wanting to experiment with new mediums such as charcoal & chalk but unsure of where to start?

Moving onto a new medium with drawing can be a challenge, especially if you’re using the wrong materials.

I was trying to draw with charcoal for years and kept on ‘missing’ the vital ingredient. I thought it was my technique, my paper choice.

My problem?

I was using the wrong charcoal…

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How to choose the Perfect White for your Acrylic Painting

whiteacrylicpaint

Seems a little far-fetched doesn’t it?

That your white paint could be ruining your paintings.

It’s often the first tube of paint you buy and definitely the most used on your palette … yet can be the most overlooked paint in your collection.

You can become transfixed by the Quinacridones, save up for the expensive Cadmium but little old Titanium white stays the same.

Choosing the ‘right’ white for the type of painting you’re creating is a critical step in mastering painting with acrylics.

So what is the right white to use?

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