Monday 26 December 2011


As readers might have noted I have suffered something of a relapse in my landscape paintings, not helped by a very limited number of plein air outings this year. This has resulted in a reliance on photographs. Concentration on portraiture and still lifes has brought about improvement in those areas but one step (or more) backwards with landscapes. What actually defines a definitive landscape? Is it just a rural scene depicting trees and fields, perhaps dotted with animals like sheep, cows or horses? How do you define a scene with buildings the main shapes? Does it all depend on the variety  or which are the major players?

A few weeks ago I showed the painting below of a scene in Keynsham park, somewhere I know well and have painted several times in the past. I've lost count of the number of times I've walked around this relatively small area bisected by the River Chew.

Keynsham Park looking along the River Chew.

Painting No.1 Gerstaeker Acquarell 16" x 12" Not

This is the original painting which failed to get  single vote at Bathampton and generally went down like a lead baloon with most others. I rather liked it (!)

When at first..... I then thought hard about this subject and consulted both Gerda Mertens (`A way with Trees' )  and John Palmer to see if their approach might help.

Keynsham Park Version No.2 Waterford (?) Not 16" x 12"

I rather liked this initially but the more I study it the more I can see it is overworked,and much too busy with too many trees crowded in, and a more simplified approach would have been better. Still progress of a sort or not? I frequently do more than one version until I arrive at a better result.

 Keynsham Park Version Number 3. 16" x 12" Centenaire Not

This is my `definitive' version and I am quietly pleased with it. This has been simplified and the large tree stump at the front eliminated. Although essentially a `cool' painting I have added some warm colours. Brushes for all three paintings  Isabey 6228 No.8, Da Vinci Artissimo 44 No.2 mop, Da Vinci Maestro Size 6 and Isabey 6201 retractable Size 6, together with a Pro-Arte Series 103 Size 4 rigger. The rigger is a synthetic, all the rest Kolinsky sable.

My usual palette featured with much reliance on  the earth colours, Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber, Raw Sienna, Burnt Umber and Gold Ochre (W & N). I mixed the greens mainly with various blues and yellows, the yellow the Daniel Smith Hansa Yellow Medium (PY97). The blues primarily Cerulean (W & N) and Ultramarine with some Cobalt Bue (+ Phalo Blue?). I do like Grahams Prussian Blue and it is in there somewhere. I also incorporated some Graham Hookers Green, a colour I like a lot as it is, in my opinion, more natural looking than other Hooker Greens. For darks I seem to frequently use Ultramarine with Burnt Sienna, or less often Burnt Umber, not overmixed but the Charles Reid way in which you can still see the original colours and let them intermix on the paper. There are many other combinations that make good darks and I will probably do a post on this in the future. Not an expert view just mine as a hobby painter.

I'm not absolutely certain what the paper is on number two (or is it three?), as it was painted on the back of a failure. I've gone off the Gerstaeker Acquarelle paper completely. I don't know if this latest block is somehow different but it doesn't take the paint terribly well. In future I'll just use it for  drawings with perhaps a small amount of paint.  I like Centenaire and both Yvonne and Jan from my AVA group have given it  qualified approval, especially at the current price. This is exclusive to Great Art

What do you think? Comments welcome.

Sunday 18 December 2011

John Palmer

In my highlighting of  artists I now want to introduce a local one, whom I've met several times and seen demonstrate. I first heard of John Palmer via Judi Whitton who was using Papermate disposable pencils.  She explained that she'd originally seen John using them. John has this amazing and unique drawing tecnique. He doesn't have a website nor has he made a video. He did tutor courses at one time for EPC in Catalonia but doesn't feature in their current schedule. John is a member of the prestigious Bristol Savages and a full biography is  on the website.   Some of his paintings are also shown. Essentially his paintings are primarily drawings with a wash or two added, usually fairly nondescript. The drawing is the thing. His paintings have appeared in several books by other artists including  Judi's `Loosen up your Watercolours' (Collins 2005).

 A friend of mine knows him well and suggested John should really be better known. He usually exhibits at the RWA (Royal West of England Academy) at their annual exhibition at Clifton, Bristol and also features in at least one gallery in Bath.

Fortunately there are two books, in the `Ron Ranson Painting School series' (Anaya Press 1993/4), that showcase John's talent. In my view by far the better book is `Drawing and Sketching' which is attributed only to John, whereas the `Watercolour Landscape' book is shown as joint authorship with Ron Ranson. The drawing book showcases his skills in amazing detail and I haven't come across another comparable artist. John is different! The Watercolour book, while interesting, isn't in the same class. When I originally tried to obtain these books, several years ago, they were hard to find but I eventually managed to buy the drawing book. Recently I felt I needed to revitalise my landscape painting and also look at other artists, even if very different to my `guru' Charles Reid. This is something he recommends. No tunnel vision here! I wouldn't try to emulate his style even if I could but there are things to be learned, as from many other artists, and who knows maybe a slight touch of the magic will rub off!

Both the copies I have of the above books are in excellent condition. I obtained the Watercolour book only recently with a slight hiccup, as the first bookseller could not find it, despite advertising on the Abebooks website. Fortunately a second did have a copy although at a slightly higher price. Prices vary enormously between booksellers and I've just checked Abebooks , a brilliant website, and the Drawing book is available at 0.64p plus carriage from one or two UK booksellers rising to over £20 from American sources, while the inferior ( in my opinion) Watercolour book starts at £24 - £25 from the UK to over £65 including carriage from Canada. Note added 19/12: I've had another close look at the watercolour book and perhaps I should have been more positive about it. I stand by my view that his drawing book is superior but the second book has much to commend it. 

To sum up I can understand some will look at John Palmer and think him quite tight and realistic - verging on super realistic at times. Actually this is a simplistic view as he is very versatile with often a loose impressionistic approach. 

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Cadmium Orange - Pigment Orange 20 (PO20)

Cadmium Orange (Cadmium Sulfoselenide) is an interesting pigment, although not a staple of many artists palettes, especially those restricted to 12 colours or less. Nevertheless Handprint rate it a `Top Forty' pigment.

 A few years ago I was on one of Judi Whittons courses in Cornwall and Judi was demonstrating. In the demo one of the colours she used was Cadmium Orange and she made the comment her preference was Maimeri because  the Winsor & Newton version behaved differently in mixtures.   As it happened I was able to explain that the Maimeri version was `true' Cadmium Orange Pigment PO20 which leans towards red, whereas the W & N Cadmium Orange was actually a `hue' comprising a mixture of Cadmium Red and Cadmium Yellow, consequently with a yellow bias. Winsor &  Newton also have Winsor Orange (PO62). Since then I have explored what is on offer from other makers.

 Here we have four oranges,. Maimeri is the only true PO20 version and notice how it is quite dark, very opaque and shows a red tinge.  The Daler Rowney Cadmium Orange  is strongly influenced by the addition of PY35 and shows a strong yellow bias. Use these for mixing and you get a totally different result. There are several other mostly newer oranges, two of which are shown. Apart from being transparent they are a different shade. The main drawback of Cadmium Orange as offered by Maimeri is that, being a Cadmium, it is toxic and quite opaque. I rather like it but some think it dull.  The main alternatives seem to be Perinone Orange (PO43) and Pyrrole orange (PO73). We also have PO36, PO71, and PO62. None are identical in hue or colour to PO20 but are transparent or semi-transparent.

What is the situation with leading makes?  Daniel Smith do not offer a `true' Cadmium Orange at all having discontinued this one in 2006. Why I wonder? Not having received replies to two previous e-mails to DS I doubt I'll bother to ask them. Smith list a Cadmium Orange Hue, a mixture of three pigments comprising two yellows and an orange, Permanent Orange (PO62), Pyrrole Orange (PO73), Transparent Pyrrole Orange (PO71), Perinone Orange (PO43) and finally Mayan Orange (PR N/A), mostly transparent or semi-transparent. Spoiled for choice! Which to choose is the dilemma? 

Looking at other leading makers Rembrandt follow Rowneys path with an identical PO20/PY35 mixture as do Sennelier (Cadmium Yellow Orange). Graham have Cadmium Orange PO20 as have Da Vinci who also list `Orange' and `Orange Deep', PO73 and PO36 respectively and finally Benzimida Orange (PO62).

This gets heavier when we look at Scminke the leading German firm. Scminke have  four paints listed as PO20, Cadmium Orange Light, Cadmium Orange Deep, Cadmium Red Orange and , would you believe Cadmium Red Light! Their Cadmium Yellow Deep is the same pigment mix as the Rowney and Rembrandt Cadmium Oranges! They also offer Translucent Orange (PO71) and Chrome Orange (PO62). The PO20 mixtures range from a light orange to a deeper reddish version.

I'll confine the rest of my summary to those companies that offer true PO20 - Cadmium Orange paints. Art Spectrum have one but they call it Cadmium Yellow Deep. Lukas and Old Holland Cadmium Orange while Bloxx list Cadmium Yellow Orange and Cadmium Red Orange.

 Finally Holbein. They miss out completely except for including PO20 in several mixtures notably the two Jaune Brilliant paints. Charles Reid likes the Holbein Cadmium Yellow Orange but this is PR108 - Cadmium Red.

What to make of all this? Despite Orange being a secondary colour, easily mixed from red and yellow (which red and yellow?), as you can see paint manufacturers list a whole range of alternatives with the newer pigments appearing in an increasing number of paints. 

The mixing compliments of Cadmium Orange (PO20) as listed by Bruce McEvoy of Handprint are Phalo Blue (PB15), Prussian (PB27) and Cerulean (PB35/36). I have mixed very good neutral greys using Phalo Blue (PB15-3) Green Shade but with some trial and error first.

Friday 11 November 2011

Fugitive Paints?

A few months ago I published  a swatch of various red/magenta colours. Bruce McEvoy of Handprint remains sceptical of the  lightfastness claims for  a number of reds and always suggest you do your own tests. Following his advice this is the result. 

The swatches as originally painted

The same swatches after four months exposure in a south facing window. I put masking tape over the bottom half of the swatches so any deterioration should be in the top half. Personally I can detect either very little or no difference. You have to allow for the fact that reproduction may not be of the very best, but I have the original and looking at it reached a similar conclusion. I don't know what the optimum time scale is for doing such tests and I suppose they might well fade over a much longer period, but then again watercolours are not normally hung in south facing windows so make of it what you will.

Wednesday 9 November 2011

Latest Paintings

Since returning from the Charles Reid workshop I've been pouring on the gas! I'm not suggesting what follows is good  - just my modest efforts. I've been trying to put into practice certain things I picked up in Cornwall. None of it is really new as I've been on three previous workshops with him. My feeling this time is that I was better equipped to benefit from the lessons learned and - maybe, just maybe - I can move my painting up a notch or two over the next six months. We'll see.

Chief Joseph - Nez Perce 15" x 11" Fabriano Artistico Not 90lb (200gsm).

I'm none too happy with the resemblance to the real Joseph as it isn't quite right, so will be doing this one again and will post a fuller biography if I manage to achieve success.

 Autmn fruits 16" x 12" Centenaire 140lb (300gsm) Not.

This was the subject at a recent AVA Thursday morning workshop. I took along the apples with leaves and added the gourds that another member of the group had brought. As you can see I've gone for a colourful representation and used some of the Daniel Smith and Graham colours. 

Quinacridone Gold (PO49) from DS and Hookers Green (PG7/PY110) from Graham feature but there are others. I like these colours very much although how much longer Daniel Smith will be able to offer Quinacridone Gold remains to be seen with no manufacture of the pigment since 2001 ( according to Handprint). The Graham Hookers is the most natural version I have come across, very dark at full strength.  Many Hookers tend to look artificial. Daniel Smith watercolours, if somewhat expensive, are available from Jacksons and  Ken Bromley  One or two other retailers like Pegasus Art are also stocking at least part of this huge range.

 In their last but one catalogue Bromley made a big thing introducing both Daniel Smith and Schminke watercolours but the latest catalogue has no mention of either! Previously Bromley majored on Winsor & Newton with Rowney as a second string. Do I sense industry politics here or is there another explanation? I think I'll e-mail Bromley and ask them what is happening. Graham are only available in the UK from Lawrence of Hove

Harvey 15" x 11" Fabriano Artistico 90lb (200gsm) Not.

Harvey is my eldest grandson aged 7. This is quite a good resemblance but I've overworked , especially around the eyes. I will  have another shot at him soon.

Mackenzie aged 5 - 11.75" x 15.75" Vivace Not. 140lb (300gsm)

Mac, Harveys brother, is my youngest grandchild and this has caught his likeness quite well. I'm not 100% satisfied ( I never am with good cause!) and will be doing further studies. The third grandchild Evie will be attempted very soon. About two weeks ago I took a series of photographs of all three with the object of turning them into portraits.  After Cornwall I feel more confident about attempting such studies. A friend who has painted many portraits tells me children are particularly difficult.

One departure with the latter paintings is the use of  an Isabey Kolinsky sable Size 8 series 6228, the one with the black handle with green tip. I've had it a while and in size by size  comparisons with Raphael and Da Vinci it was seen to be smaller - less hair in other words. Jacksons  offer this brush at £25.90 while the comparable Raphael and Da Vinci are £31.90p and £28.15p respectively. I have quoted the Series 35 Da Vinci but the excellent Series 10 is only £24.15p. I was already a big fan of the Isabey retractable Series 6201 Size 6, very slim but quite small compared to others in this size, and this 6228 is superb. It is long and slim, holds a good charge of paint and releases beautifully, very controlled. It is early days yet but my first impressions are very positive.

Monday 24 October 2011

A Conversation with Charles Reid

During the workshop I spoke to Charles several times and on the afternoon of the final day had a rather longer conversation. I was going to call this `an interview with' but that would have been an exaggeration so here we are.
Charles Reid

One of the first questions I asked was what were his favourite books among those he had written. I was surprised by the answer which was `Painting What You Want to See', `Painting By Design' and `Watercolour Secrets'.  I said my own favourites were `The Natural Way to Paint', `Flower Painting in Watercolour' (2001) and his most recent 'Watercolour Solutions'. He seemed surprised at my choices. I have since  had another look at `Watercolour Secrets' and possibly underrated it.

When asked what he enjoyed most about painting courses or workshops, whatever you choose to call them, his reply was that Judy and he spent a lot of time alone and  people invigorated him and kept him active.   I'm sure he enjoys them, especially with the number of people who are regulars and have become friends. He said they, meaning Judy who is always with him, had made a lot of friends worldwide. He also said on the last evening that England was his favourite painting country.

What did he see as the biggest problems amongst his students? Rendering objects and seeing things not shapes. He said you should not identify objects. These are things he always stresses on his workshops and in books and videos. Another was that many don't paint often enough and he advocates something daily, either drawing or painting, even if only for 30 minutes or so.  Naturally he realises many are unable to do this but you must paint regularly if you want to improve.

Asked about trends in watercolour the reply was he pays little attention to such things and has no views or objections. He thinks painting should be viewed on its own merits. Charles feels Andrew Wyeth is the outstanding American watercolour painter followed by Homer who was influenced by him. He is also a big fan of John Singer-Sargent and from the past eras the French artists Bonnard and Vuillard. Surprisingly he isn't that fond of Turner. I asked what he thought of Hercules Brabazon, one of my favourites, and to my great surprise said he hadn't heard of him! When I asked who his favourite present day watercolour artists were the reply was again unexpected. He named Andrew Parker, one of whose paintings is shown at the end of `Watercolour Solutions', and some one I'd never heard of  Fred Yates. I'll have to look him up! Charles also mentioned he does quite a lot of judging in America and sees a strong trend towards super realism, possibly because people are increasingly painting from photographs. Added 25/11. Fred Yates was a British artist born in Manchester. He was influenced by Lowry. I believe Charles saw a painting by him in the Bowgli Inn next to the Crantock Bay Hotel. Charles was much impressed and one of the new students was able to tell him about this artist, who lived during his later period in Cornwall and was buried there. He died in 2008.

Two views of the palette used at Crantock, a Craig Young paintbox. He did use the small Sketchers Box at Trelice. Prior to painting, about 30 minutes earlier, he sprays his paints with a small spray bottle. Paint must be moist so you can dig the tip of the brush into it!  I attempted to determine exactly what and how many different paints were in the box because Charles is slightly vague on the subject. I thought there were 22 and interestingly this is the number listed by colour in his most recent book. There are a mixture of tube and half pan colours, the latter Winsor & Newton, the tube paint Holbein. He much prefers tube paints but the problems associated with tube colours, some of which don't solidify when travelling, has brought about this pragmatic solution. Charles is not dogmatic about colours and will try fresh ones regularly. At Urchfont it was New Gamboge, not mentioned this time, Viridian and Prussian Blue. Here I noticed Cobalt Violet, never mentioned previously. I asked if he had tried Daniel Smith and Graham paints, both causing a stir in recent years. He has tried Graham and said they were good but also mentioned Sennelier and Old Holland, but he was used to Holbein and would be sticking with them. The Daniel Smith band waggon seems to have passed him by.

With paper we know he favours Fabriano Artistico Traditional watercolour paper but also likes Schut Noblesse. This is difficult to obtain and Judi Whitton, who was at Crantock  the week prior to our day of arrival, had brought him a block(s) of the 50 x 40cm size. He particularly likes this format. He compared the Noblesse to the Fabriano, softer papers that suit his style of painting but don't take corrections well. He also likes the Czech Moldau hand made paper and had brought a supply to use for his portrait DVD with APV films. There are no distributors of this paper in the UK but in America can be obtained from Italian Art.

Kolinsky sable  round brushes are his favourites and he especially likes the Da Vinci Maestro. The preferred series is No 35 which are slightly longer and slimmer than the series 10 Maestro. In the USA I believe they use a different numbering system. I noticed he also used some Escoda Kolinsky travel brushes this week series 1214. The normal equivalent is series 1212. In the last two years he'd tried them and thought them very good.

At Urchfont and again this week I tried to persuade Charles (and Judy) to do a final book on portraits as the original one is very dated. There are sections on portraits in many of his later books but the information is fragmented. He agreed he'd moved on considerably since then but it has been said `Watercolour Solutions' will be his last book. A shame but at least we can look forward to another DVD. Immediately after Burford Charles is to film a new Portrait DVD at  Windrush, close to Burford and the home and gallery of the late James Fletcher-Watson. It is still run by Fletcher-Watsons daughter. APV films of Chipping Norton, a highly acclaimed producer of painting videos, are the company involved. After flying back to America it is off to Atlanta, Georgia for a workshop followed by Scotsdale, Arizona.  Judy mentioned Joseph Wolfskill who has modelled for Charles at Scotsdale - there are two of the paintings in `Watercolour Solutions' - and said he usually brings wonderful hats.

 According to Mick on his blog - I assume from speaking to either Charles or Judy - Charles is to reduce the number of  workshops in future.  Next year he is committed to Spain and Paris but after that....? Judy was non-committal when asked  if they would be coming to England in 2013 when he will be 76.  I suspect that Crantock followed by Burford may be his swansong and if so a very fine goodbye. No one can predict the future with certainty so who knows?

This is it folks. My Crantock Odessey is over. I'm exhausted!

Sunday 23 October 2011

My Paintings at Crantock

At this stage I'll bite the bullet and show you my paintings at Crantock. Actually I'm quite pleased overall and they are better as a group than those I did on previous CR courses, much better in some instances. I don't think anyone - well some may but not the majority of us - does their best painting on courses like this. The circumstances and pressures are against it and the true success or otherwise of the course will be evident over the next few months providing you work hard at the lessons learned.

Unknown Lifeboatman -Courtesy Crantock hotel

This is the photograph I chose to paint on the first day. There were no details of who he was or where but we can date it to around 1900. The only clue is the word `Whitby'. I assume this to be the well-known fishing village on the East Coast of North Yorkshire.

Lifeboatman Whitby. A3 Moldau 130gsm not.

I was pleased at the time and remain so after reflection. I learned a lot from the way Charles painted his figure, with the use of colour and the way the same colours were repeated in the rest of the painting. I just hope I can consolidate the lesson. At the critique Charles called the design excellent and commented on the placement of the darks. He made no critical comments or suggestions for change.

Simon. Fabriano Artistico Extra White 20" x 14" Not

 You can see a slightly different angle of Simon on my Day Two post. Although I'm pleased with it I realised the face was possibly slightly too full compared to the length of the head. In other words I should have made the head longer and the face narrower. At least I think so. Nevertheless I rarely get a chance to do a portrait from life, mainly photographs where I can use aids to get the dimensions right. On this occasion I used a pencil to measure proportions so it was a different experience. The left side of the face was in shadow but quite subtle and not pronounced so I didn't overemphasize. It isn't fully realistic but then this isn't the intention.  At the critique Charles was quite complimentary and even though I mentioned the proportion question he didn't think that significant. I should explain at critiques one is first asked how they feel about the painting. Simons wife, a fellow student, quite liked it. 

 Trelice - Fabriano Artistico Extra White 20" x 14" Not.

As I explained earlier on Day Three this was the least satisfactory day of the workshop as the weather conditions were very marginal. I did not paint at all in the morning just watched Charles, who was safely tucked under a large umbrella. I, like most others, didn't bring one to Cornwall. A mistake! After a break  at lunchtime conditions improved so I thought I must attempt something. It isn't overly serious and I only did a portion of the building. Although the light drizzle had more or less stopped the atmosphere was so damp that the watercolour paper seemed to absorb moisture leading to this soft effect.

Still Life - Fabriano Artistico Extra White 20' x 14' Not

Day Four was the eagerly awaited `Still Life' session. After Charles painted his demo several other still lifes were spread over the two rooms. During the week students each get a turn on the front  row and this day was my turn, and we were also given first choice to choose the still life to paint. I should add I took my binoculars and really found no problem in following what Charles did even when  further back. This shocks some when told about it but it works quite well. I chose to paint the same one as Charles. Overall I am pleased although I felt - and still do - that the flowers are better than the objects. In particular the duck is poor. The red pepper and green avocado could be better.. I intend to do some work on painting fruit and peppers. At the critique Charles was complimentary. He probably remembered some of my stuff from previous years!

Still Life (2) Fabriano Artistico Extra White 20' x 14' Not

This, excluding Trelice, was my least satisfactory painting, done on the last day. The flowers could be better and the objects are poor, particularly the red teapot and the yellow mug. As there was no critique the final evening I avoided what I am sure would have been some less complimentary remarks.

As far as critiques go Charles does not shirk from pointing out what he thinks is wrong or could be better but, like most other workshop teachers, goes easy on his students. If there are major problems I think he'll say so and did on one or two occasions but not in a manner that upsets or depresses those on the receiving end. Possibly he's more frank when speaking to individuals rather than in a full classroom scenario. I'm not averse to being criticized and always hope for a frank opinion. I think he gets the balance about right.

Saturday 22 October 2011

Charles Reid at Crantock - Overview

It is now just over a week since we returned from Crantock and having completed the posts for each day I now turn to an overview. Without doubt is was excellent. This was my fourth with Charles and I felt more comfortable on it than any of the others. Since Urchfont two years ago I have put in a lot of effort and feel I have made progress so there is a faint light at the end of the tunnel - very faint! I intend to work hard over the next few months and try to consolidate the lessons learned. If you want to benefit from such experiences you do need to work at it. It is all too easy to regress.

The people on the course comprised 17 students, who in a few cases had brought non-painting partners with them. This included my wife who had  been with me on our three previous Crantock visits with the artist Judi Whitton.

 The group eagerly await Charles return from a break.

Charles back at work!

 All attention!

Doug Cushman standing with Gilles . 

Gilles took notes and also painted along with Charles, something he encourages. Difficult to do but Gilles managed it 

As well as the pleasure of meeting Charles and Judy Reid once more it was great to see those artists I had met on previous courses. There were several on their first course, which is fairly unusual given the great demand for places with many coming year after year. I must not forget Jane Duke who is the organizer and a professional artist in her own right, holding workshops and also painting courses/holidays herself  On this occasion her husband Perry was with her and was one of the models for the portrait sessions.

Jane Duke

What of the artists on the course? As usual there was a mix of amateur and professional - and even semi-professional artists possibly slightly fewer than previously. I don't know the exact status of everyone so apologies if I miss something out, or if you read this e-mail me and I will correct the information. It was nice to meet artists like Emily Stedman from New York once more, who was on both my previous UK courses.

Emily Stedman

Another distant visitor was Gilles Durand from France, an excellent professional  who has received many awards in his own country. Gilles told me he had demonstrated at an exhibition in France where he was followed by Viktoria and Slawa Prischedko. Gilles was also at Burford and Urchfont and it was a pleasure to meet such a fine artist and nice man again.

   Gilles Durand

Another course member who I had met at Burford was Doug Cushman, an American who has lived in Paris for the last ten years. Doug is an illustrator by profession  and can trace his ancestors back to the Mayflower.  Doug and Mick Carney got on famously!

Doug - one last sketching opportunity- final evening!

Both Ian and Jane Wright are regulars on Charles courses although I don't know exactly how many they have attended, certainly many more than me. Both are good painters with Ian exceptional. I class him as a semi-professional see his website

Ian and Jane Wright

This wouldn't be complete without mentioning the Sunderland Express Mick Carney, literally the life of the party and a larger than life figure. Mick continues to astound me with the depths of his knowledge on a range of subjects including art and music.  At the time of writing he is in Maine, USA connecting with the art world over there. He is shown here with Judy wife of Charles, who is the guiding light behind the scenes and front of house as well. Charles paints Judy does the rest.

 Mick Carney and Judy Reid

There are many more to be mentioned like Margaret Chapman, who I first met on the Spanish course, Latifa Kostas the life and soul of the group (as well as Mick),  another Charles Reid regular, met on my previous UK courses,  Doreen Young from Burford and Urchfont, who originally persuaded Charles to come to England and arranged his courses for some years. There was also Lynn and Nigel Jenner from Jersey. Lynn was at Urchfont, and several first timers. To those whom I've not mentioned by name apologies as my main intention in writing the report was for those who, for different reasons, did not make it. Pauline from my local AVA group applied but it was already fully booked, only days after booking opened. I understand there is always a list of those hoping that a cancellation will enable them to attend.

I've mentioned Mick Carney previously. Mick has his own blog and is the reason I started mine, after I met him at Urchfont two years ago. I knew little about blogs until then. We have kept in touch ever since, and he stayed with us the night prior to travelling together to Cornwall, to break his 500 mile journey from the North-East. I am orginally from the North East and have family there. 

What of the course itself? I have already said it was brilliant and I don't think anyone would disagree. There was plenty of hard work but also merriment so the atmosphere remained lighthearted, although always serious when it came to painting. I felt I benefited more this time because my painting has improved over the last two years and I was more able to absorb the lessons. Charles told my wife that I'd improved and Gilles Durand said something similar to me. Thank you both for being so encouraging. Will Charles return to England? See my next and final piece. 

If you would like to see Mick's report, which is different to mine in that much of it is about the people, although the painting is well covered, go to his blog
There are also many more photos of the participants and is written with his usual verve. He is also a much better photographer. Indeed a man of many talents.

I haven't yet posted photographs of my paintings on the course. I was quite pleased with some of them and will do so in the next few days.

Friday 21 October 2011

Charles Reid at Crantock - Day Five

During the afternoon of Day 4 we were asked what we would prefer to do on the final day. The choice was between another painting from a photograph or a still life. The vast majority opted for a still life.

On this occasion a white background was chosen rather than the seascape of the previous one. Charles began with a contour drawing, very light and accurate but not precise, virtually only a light outline. The bottom area was drawn first and he occasionally erased a line. After finishing this area he moved to the vase drawing upwards. On this particular day Charles was quite reticent saying comparatively little, while drawing or painting. Possibly, for what was a more complicated subject, he needed to conentrate fully or  was tired on the last day of a quite demanding workshop. Perhaps a combination of both.

The painting began with the upper flower. At one point he was asked which blue he was using. His reply was `I don't know'! This emphasizes another point about the Charles Reid approach. Every painting is a new adventure and they are not planned to the smallest degree. Things happen as he goes along, and is a riposte to the school of thought that say everything should be decided in advance. The greens were mainly Cadmium Yellow and various blues and he stresses variation is important. He took his usual short breaks.

 Still Life - Schut Noblesse 50 x 40cm not.

In the afternoon we painted a variety of still lifes that had been setup from the previous days session. Doug Cushman elected to paint from a photograph, actually two I think, but I believe he was the only one. During this afternoon session Charles would pop in from time to time and look at the paintings in progress, commenting on every one and helping those who asked for assistance. He did this all week.

With comparatively little text with this demonstration I have posted many more photographs of the painting as it proceeded. Many considered this  his best work of the course. It resulted in a beautiful painting. The painting of the flowers, fruit and croissants were a masterclass in the use of imaginative colour. The way in which he proceeded mirrored that of other demonstrations as he uses the same tecniques whatever the subject.

Basically this is the end of the demonstration section. There are two more items to follow. One is an overview of the course and something about fellow students. I may do something about the courses I have been on later, when I've had more time to consider and reflect about them .The last part is something I was going to call `An Interview with Charles Reid' but on reflection I think it will be a conversation  because this describes it better. Actually it will be the result of several short conversations and a slightly longer one on the final day. 

I should have mentioned that an exhibition was held at 6pm on the evening of the final day. Each student was asked to pick two paintings and exhibit them in the same room where we painted. Anyone staying at the hotel were welcome to view them.

Gilles Durand

Ian Wright
Doug Cushman
 I've had a comment from a painting friend (criticism!) that more student paintings should have been shown so I've added all those I photographed. Apologies to those I wasn't able to identify.