A Beginners Guide to Light & Shadow : Part 1

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Cezanne, Oil on Canvas, still life with seven apples, 1878

Ever felt frustrated having worked so hard on a drawing – only to find it still looks ‘flat’?

Is it the proportions? The perspective? Perhaps the composition?

Whilst these all play an integral part, the most effective method of making your drawings appear three dimensional, is understanding how light logic works.

If line drawing creates the proportions, handling of tone creates the form.

The theory seems simple and the changes in technique small, but applying the principles of how tone, light and shade work, will improve the illusion of form in every drawing you do – regardless of the subject.

And the exciting part about it is, once you ‘get’ lighting, the principles never change.

In Part 1 of this 3 Part series (Part 2 – Drawing shading demonstration) we look at the theory, the drawing and then paint a simple form focusing on shadow, light and edges.

You might find it isn’t your drawing technique that’s wrong, but your lighting…

Continue Reading A Beginners Guide to Light & Shadow : Part 1

7 Questions every Artist needs to ask before Varnishing an Oil Painting

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An Introduction to Varnishing an Oil Painting

As we’ve discussed in 3 Reasons why artists varnish their work (and why some artists don’t) varnishing is primarily an aesthetic choice on the final finish of your painting.

Not only can it really bring up the vibrancy and richness in your realist paintings but it offers protection for the painted surface from atmospheric effects to make the surface easier to clean in the future.

No One technique for varnishing suits every situation — the texture of the paint surface, whether you want a matte or gloss finish, speed of completion etc.. all effect which varnish you choose.

There are different considerations to think about when you’re working with Oils in comparison to Acrylics, so here are some common questions to check before getting out the varnish brush…

Continue Reading 7 Questions every Artist needs to ask before Varnishing an Oil Painting

Small Glass Acrylic Study Course is Live!

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New Small Glass Study Acrylic Video Course

Merry Christmas class!

The new mini-course where I paint a coloured glass and festive oranges is now available! Whoo ho! ho! ho!

It’s the perfect addition to the Masterclass Acrylics Course or a great little introduction to the more complex subject of reflections and glass.

If you have ever tried to paint glass and it looked flat and unconvincing or ended up with super bright white highlights that look stuck on, then you may be interested in discovering how to achieve a lifelike glass effect with acrylics – yet still keeping a painterly feel.

3 Downloadable Video Lessons  –  1 Small Glass Study

Over 1 1/2 hours of video instruction, alongside a Quick Start PDF guide and Downloadable images of each stage of the process, which includes your materials lists and tools of the trade.

The lessons are available online to download so you have access to the course forever.

The course is now available, you can learn more and join the course by just clicking this link

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and a Creative Year

Cheers,

Will

Continue Reading Small Glass Acrylic Study Course is Live!

3 Reasons why artists varnish their work (and why some artists don’t)

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We’ve all done it.

Spent hours, days, even weeks slaving away on a painting but when we finally apply a varnish…it all goes horribly wrong.

The anxiousness builds.

You’re now sure there’s mismatched sheens on the surface and it was perfect before you started varnishing!

Or maybe you thought it was a good idea to wrap your newly varnished painting with bubble wrap just before the deadline of an exhibition, only to find out at the private view the bubble wrap had left hundreds of tiny circle imprints on the surface of the painting….mmm..surely no one would ever do that!

The anxiety and disappointment that comes with varnishing can sometimes seem too much.

With all the confusion, conflicting advice and frustration in creating the perfect varnish finish, you can’t help wondering, what’s the point of varnishing at all?…

Continue Reading 3 Reasons why artists varnish their work (and why some artists don’t)

A Thanksgiving Thanks!

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In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’d like to thank all the comments, questions, students and well wishers that have helped the blog to grow over the last year.

We now have over 100,000 visitors a month and we’ve gone from 500,000 views to just short of hitting nearly hit the 2,000,000 views on YouTube, Woohoo!

It’s so inspiring for me to hear stories of students that have found their way back to painting – after life got in the way of their creativity…

Continue Reading A Thanksgiving Thanks!

How to paint, sleep (and nearly die) like Cézanne

paul cezanne plaque

I knew we were in trouble when I opened the car door and brown water started flooded in.

‘Shut the door!’ shouted Vanessa.

Mon Dieu, Mon Dieu!” muttered our French driver, holding her head in her hands.

The car had stalled.

The small country road we had driven along in brilliant sunshine only a few short hours ago was now a raging torrent of water.

I tried the electric windows, no power.

We were trapped.

I saw the water was rising quickly, it was now half way up the car door.

I started to panic.

We were in Provence (just last month) on the trail of Cézanne’s studio, and our idyllic country retreat was rapidly turning into a disaster…

Continue Reading How to paint, sleep (and nearly die) like Cézanne

Still Life Acrylic Masterclass Course is Live!

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New Still Life Acrylic Masterclass Course

Morning class!  The Still Life Masterclass in Acrylics course is now available, whoo hoo!

Have you ever asked yourself :
How do I make my paintings look more professional?

At some point in every artist’s development you get to a stage where your paintings are looking pretty good, you can see your improvement from where you first began but some tricky subjects still elude you.

You’ve got a basic understanding of colour mixing, paint application and your drawing’s sound but you want to take your work to the next level.

I’ve created this Classical Still Life Masterclass with acrylics, to help aspiring artists to bring their paintings to a more professional finish.

We deal with the more complex subject of reflective surfaces such as Silver, Ceramic & Mahogany using an extended palette and multi-layered glazing techniques.
Here’s a brief video intro to the course:


My Still Life Masterclass Course and is now available and you can learn more and join the course by just clicking this link

Continue Reading Still Life Acrylic Masterclass Course is Live!

How to Paint Glass & Reflections with Acrylics – Part 3 of 3

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In Part 1 we looked at how to master the basic features of your digital camera, so you can emulate how your eyes see things in nature to give you fantastic reference photographs for your still life painting.

In Part 2 we saw how small incremental changes in your composition and lighting can instantly create a more dramatic and pleasing image for a painting.

So for Part 3, we’re on to the painting…

Continue Reading How to Paint Glass & Reflections with Acrylics – Part 3 of 3

Are you 1cm away from the perfect composition? Part 2 of 3

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Creating a great still life painting often occurs before you’ve even picked up the brush.

In this part of Setting up a Still Life series, we’re going to look at using natural light, whilst also considering the incremental changes in the actual composition of the piece.

In Part 1 we looked at how to master the basic features of your digital camera so you can emulate how your eyes see things in nature, to give you fantastic reference photographs for your still life painting.

Once you understand how to get the depth of field and exposure that you are after, the next thing to consider is the lighting.

I happened to be chatting with my sister about my new Still Life Painting Course on Reflections, when she asked: “Are you going to paint a really hard subject like a glass of water?”

Interestingly, I had overlooked how the ability to paint transparent liquid and glass can seem very impressive – when in fact, with the right image – it’s very simple.

And if you’ve got the right set up, it can be really easy to achieve.

So inspired by this, we’re going to arrange a simple glass of water and next week…paint it…

Continue Reading Are you 1cm away from the perfect composition? Part 2 of 3

How to shoot stunning still life set ups for your paintings – Part 1 of 3

photographing still life WillKemp

Will Kemp, Still Life with Figs, Photograph, 2012

Have you ever got out your digital camera to take a shot of your still life set up and been sorely disappointed with the results?

Your photo looks washed out, or too dark or the flash had popped up and flattened the whole scene.

You’re not alone in the quest for a simple formula to create great reference photographs for your paintings.

You might have tried turning the dial to the ‘manual’ mode, fired off a few shots, got disheartened, only to return to the safe haven of the ‘flower setting’ or ‘Auto’ on the dial.

Understanding the manual functions of your digital camera can be a liberating experience and can greatly improve the framing of your paintings.

Or maybe you’ve never used your camera to help with your paintings but you’d like to learn how…

Continue Reading How to shoot stunning still life set ups for your paintings – Part 1 of 3

What is the best background colour for your studio walls & why does it matter?

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One of the most common colour questions I get asked on the Art School is “How do I choose the right colour to paint my coloured ground?”

But before I tackle that subject in more detail, I wanted to look at an often overlooked subject, studio wall colour.

To answer the previous question completely, you should be thinking of your studio space as a whole.

The colours that surround you in your studio space influence the perceptions of the colour on your canvas and are often the secret source to effective classical painting.

It isn’t as glamorous as the actual painting, however, getting it wrong can throw your eye out without you even realizing it…

Continue Reading What is the best background colour for your studio walls & why does it matter?

French Café Scene with Acrylics Tutorial – Free video Course Part 5 of 5

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Essential acrylic painting starter set!

This is the final part of the painting and we can start to reap the rewards from our careful underpainting and patience.

If you’ve just stumbled on the tutorial you can catch up below:

This week we start to introduce a brighter red and a yellow…French Café Scene with Acrylics Tutorial – Free video Course Part 5 of 5

Continue Reading French Café Scene with Acrylics Tutorial – Free video Course Part 5 of 5

French Café Scene with Acrylics Tutorial – Free video Course Part 4 of 5

painting trees in acrylics

A step-by-step French Café Scene acrylic painting

In these tutorials I will be posting a series of videos on my YouTube channel that you can follow along at home. It’s free to subscribe to the website so you can keep updated with the painting progress.French Café Scene with Acrylics Tutorial – Free video Course Part 4 of 5..

You can watch Part 1 & 2 of the painting demonstration  and Part 3 French cafe

This week we start to introduce a red and a yellow…French Café Scene with Acrylics Tutorial – Free video Course Part 4 of 5

Continue Reading French Café Scene with Acrylics Tutorial – Free video Course Part 4 of 5

French Café Scene with Acrylics Tutorial – Free video Course Part 3 of 5

contrast in underpainting acrylics

A step-by-step French Café Scene acrylic painting

In this series I will be posting a weekly video on my YouTube channel that you can follow along at home. It’s free to subscribe to the website so you can keep updated with the painting progress.French Café Scene with Acrylics Tutorial – Free video Course Part 3 of 5..

You can watch Part 1 of the painting demonstration here.

This week we start to introduce the lightest lights and some blue…

Continue Reading French Café Scene with Acrylics Tutorial – Free video Course Part 3 of 5