Sunday, January 23, 2011

Portrait workshop in Grantchester

Yesterday, I ran my first Portrait workshop in Grantchester, near Cambridge. I am pleased to say it was both successful and enjoyable. Ten students attended from various art clubs and societies bringing a whole range of skills and techniques . Some worked in oils, others in acrylic, watercolour or pastel producing a huge variety of work.

I began by talking about the basics. How to draw a head and get a likeness. I explained about proportion and tone before moving on to do two 20 minute practical demonstrations. The idea was to show a couple of different approaches to painting a portrait in oils. The first was a fairly traditional method establishing the drawing first ( on this occasion in paint.) before moving on to add the colour.

Here the canvas has been pre-stained with raw umber. The drawing was done with diluted burnt sienna. As I do this, I am measuring proportions , angles and running verticals and horizontals to fix the features. Only when happy that everything is in the right place would I begin to add colour. It is a safe approach.

My second quick demonstration was the high risk method. No preliminary drawing . Straight in with the palette knife going for colour and large tonal masses. My audience was fairly stunned at the initial, apparently, child-like daubs. I then move on to applying thick paint with brushes. Rich, juicy impasto. Some wonderful accidental effects on which I try to capitalize. Now is the time I start to panic. Will anything emerge from this chaos? Will this be my Waterloo? Time to impose a certain control, to begin to position features and establish a likeness. To my relief, a human face gradually begins to emerge. I have now managed to capture my audience. I am encouraged by their responses and by the excitement that is being engendered by the process.

I should hastily add that neither of my 25 minute demos did justice to the model, poor girl!

At the beginning of this blog, I indicated the range of students attending. Below. I show a few samples of the work they produced.

As is clear from these few paintings, none of them were painting "in the style of" John Glover. Nothing is more depressing than to see a group of students slavishly copying /imitating the tutor and my aim is to encourage everyone to develop their own "vision."

I will be running the following workshops in Grantchester.

Saturday 12 February. Life Drawing/Painting

Saturday 12th March. Portrait

For full details e-mail or tel. 01284 810 460

Friday, January 21, 2011

Grantchester day workshops

I am delighted to say that there has been an excellent response to a series of new workshops I will be running in Grantchester Village hall, near Cambridge. Both the portrait days, on 22nd January and 12th March are fully booked. The life drawing and painting one on 12th February still has a couple of spaces left.

It is a fun day with the opportunity to meet and learn from other artists as well as the tutor.
Workshops run from 10 am - 4pm and the cost is £35 for the day. This includes model fee, tea, coffee etc. Bring your own packed lunch.

The artist as author

I have recently had an article published in Flack magazine. In this I explain my reasons for wanting to produce an exhibition of portraits of those who are either homeless or have experienced homelessness.

To read both my article and the whole of Flack magazine go to