A formal write-up will appear in the newsletter, but here are a few comments from your Webmaster to be going on with.
| David works (mostly with Liquitex Acrylic) on MDF, using a
watercolour style, but making great use of the fact that acrylic dries hard. He
likes to mount his pictures like watercolours, and so he cuts board to fit his
frame. He primes it with two or three coats of slightly-thinned white acrylic
gesso, sandpapered smooth between coats, before masking down to the size of the
It was hard work scumbling the background in with a fat brush (Liquitex only slightly thinned - he used it "neat" with a damp brush). Normally he would spend days doing a detailed background of leaves, berries, twigs etc.
| David always works out his pictures on tracing paper, possibly on
several sheets, so that he can move them around to finalise the composition
within his pre-masked frame.
He sanded his background smooth before tracing the outline of the bird onto it. David used white oil-free "tracedown" (carbon) paper but you can make your own with chalk (white) or a 9B pencil (black).
|With white gesso (he uses it as his universal mixing white) he
carefully painted all over within the traced outline. However, if you noticed,
the brush-stokes were already beginning to follow the direction of the
Another sanding and then the outlines of the internal details (eye, beak division, feather groups etc.) were traced onto the white with black "tracedown".
|He uses a china plate (not a stay-wet palette) to get the right
colour and texture (never wet enough to run down a vertical plate). If painting
wet in wet the later application must be drier than the one already down.
Crude colours followed. The white seen here was then painted over with a purple-ish blue, brush-strokes following the directions within each feather group.
Several layers of white feather were applied, always brushing in the feather directions and leaving plenty of the earlier layers showing. There was only time for about four layers in the demo, although he would normally use 6 or 8.
|By working on different parts of the picture there was usually time
enough for find dry paint waiting for its next glaze - only occasionally did he
use the hair-dryer.
Shadows (purples and browns) and highlights (white) were applied to the beak and around the eye. They were blended over the crude colour with a rinsed and well-squeezed brush.
The reflections and shadows in the eye received a lot of attention. Black was used as an underpainting for the top of the head (black is too harsh for underpainting landscapes but is fine for close-up smaller subjects).
|Blues and whites were brushed in the feather direction over the
black head and a very thin ultra-marine glaze got rid of the slightly
too-purple tinge still visible in the white feathers.
An impression of sunlight on feather was finally introduced with touches of lemon yellow.
David stressed that he would normally take considerably longer, apply more glazes and remember such things as nostrils. The finished demo, below, fooled most of us - I hadn't missed the nostrils!
Back to History Page
Top of Page - Home - Programme of Events - Gallery - Contacts - FCSA Site Map