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William Davies Oils demonstrations
(Fridays: 28 March 2003 & 10 March 2006)
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10 March 2006
Bill outlined his background (See Biographical Notes) and brought several examples of his work.
Here are a few of them.
He makes up all his own canvases, to one of about three standard sizes. He primes them with several coats, enough to leave some texture, and then finishes the preparation with a standard pale yellow ochre final coat to kill the white.

This time he had chosen to paint a river scene at Maldon, on the Essex River Blackwater - a place "where there are so many painting opportunities that the pictures almost paint themselves". He worked from a small photo of a painting he had done in the open air, looking at barges on a curve of the river.
He does not like to start drawing with pencil or charcoal because it makes it difficult if you find you have misplaced something - with paint you can move it or remove it much more easily.

His initial drawing, roughly setting up the horizon, the foreground shore and some marks on the Golden Mean (more or less), was done with a smallish brush using something like burnt umber thinned a little with odour-free white spirit.

Once these initial marks were in place he used the white spirit only to clean his brush - something he did, roughly drying it on a cloth, almost every time he went to the palette. Thereafter any thinning was done with Liquin, a medium that accelerates the drying.

Stressing that the first hour is primarily composition, he extrended the horizon colours, including what were to become middle-distant trees (a lovely grey-ish green). He likes to pull sky down into existing background, working it in with a variety of paints and a big brush. The sky colours, slightly modified, were also reflected into the water.
Features, still with no detail, gradually appeared: the big steam barge on the left; masts (applied with the palette knife), furled sails; the locations of the people and the foreground clutter.

Odd pearls of wisdom appeared along with the details of the picture:
- if you learn by copying, copy many different artists;
- resist the temptation to tidy up until you have looked at it for several days;
- don't let such things as masts lean if this would take the eye out of a corner;
- don't have eye-stoppers near the edge of the picture.

Finally come the "killer little bits", always left to the end (e.g. the yellow funnel, the flags, the dinghy sail, the distant highlights).

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28 March 2003
Davies demo #1 Davies Demo #2
Davies Demo #3 Davies Demo (final painting)

The Webmaster's informal notes follow:

Simplify (half-close eyes to avoid time-wasting detail)
Use few colours (remember water reflects sky colour, unless you want your picture cut into two)
Kill the white before starting and use a quick-drying colour for rough indication of what goes where
Make whites look bright by darkening the surrounding area
Big brushes save time (smooth edges with finger)
A knife is best for lines (like rigging or highlight edges)
Once it's down, don't fiddle
Don't be afraid to work outside early in the day. If it rains use the covered market
Stand, don't sit unless you have to
The light changes as you paint - put shadows in early; paint the people etc.casting them later
Use photos for details only, not for composition

Biographical notes

William Davies was born in 1928 and started painting in 1962 after leaving the Royal Navy.

Following the Impressionist school Bill paints mostly in the open, with very little work being done in his studio - a converted 19th Century chapel.

For many years Bill has made an annual pilgrimage to Venice where he has produced some of his most admired work, the attraction being the renowned light and colour. He also goes every year to paint in Provence and Brittany and speaks warmly of the atmosphere he finds there and the friendliness of the French people.

He has also painted extensively in Singapore, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand and speaks enthusiastically of the time he was permitted to paint in The Royal Academy of Music where he found the challenge of the intense atmosphere of musicians in rehearsal a truly unforgettable experience.

He has been a member of the famous Wapping Group of Artists since 1974 and is now President. His work has been shown in many important galleries in London and the South East and in private collections worldwide

For purchases or demonstrations, 'phone William Davies (01444 831944)
or write to him at
Old Cudwells Barn, Lewes Road, Haywards Heath, West Sussex, RH17 7NA

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