River Reflections in three stages

I have been a bit remiss in updating the blog with new pictures over the summer. I could say it’s because I have been too busy painting, but that’s not quite true, work has also intruded. However my art class has started up again so to kick off here is an interesting project that our tutor led us through.

Firstly he gave us a black and white copy of a photograph and asked us to spend 45 minutes doing a quick reductive charcoal picture of it. This involves covering the whole paper with charcoal then carving in the lighter areas and shapes using an eraser, before moving to charcoal and chalk. Here is the result..

photo 2


Using the same monochrome photo, we then did a larger outline using a yellow ochre acrylic wash and just a blend of ultramarine and burnt umber oil paint,  again to show the areas of light and dark, but this time using oils – very lightly – on oil paper. It looks like a watercolour but really is very thin oil paint.

photo 1

I took a photo as I knew we would be painting over the top the following week once this layer had dried. The ‘twist’ the following week was that we actually got given the colour photo to use this time, which was certainly a lot brighter and more ‘summery’ than the more moody feel of the black and white images. We only had 75 minutes to complete the picture, but this time with a full range of oils. The instruction was not to focus on detail – tricky in an hour and a quarter anyway – but on general textures and in particular the reflections in the water. This was the result, about 1 meter square oil on oil paper:

River three


Overall it was a really useful exercise. Each picture only had around an hour allocated to it which stopped me getting bogged down in detail as I am often prone to do. Meanwhile doing the first two without knowing the colours involved does, I feel, bring something to the final picture, which is freer just to focus on colours and reflections.

If anyone recognises the scene let me know, as I don’t know the origin of the photo…


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