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Robin Mackervoy oils landscape demonstration, 8/10/04

The official write-up will be in the newsletter. The following are your webmaster's notes.

Robin likes to have something in front of him: real life or a sketch (in another medium - important), mounted just above or to the side. He has over 100 sketchbooks of various sizes. They become more and more useful as references as the numbers build. He keeps one in this pocket, a couple in the car and others dotteed around here and there. He only paints sitting down if he has to.

This time he worked from a watercolour sketch, done outdoors at a regatta.
He used MDF, well primed with textured acrylic and a couple of coats of warm-coloured acrylic Gesso. He reiterated the dark-to-light, cool-to-hot, low-key-to-high, thin-to-thick (fat-over-lean) oil-painters' mantra.

It's pointless to do a detailed drawing on the "canvas" - it is immediately painted over. Using a hog filbert and one of what proved to be many different well-diluted greys, he slashed a rough 1/3" wide horizon line and then similar verticals to locate the important masts and reflections. No more positional errors now because there is a grid (of sorts) to work in.
Now the scumbling starts (and lasts for an hour). Real work it seems, terribly hard on the points of the brushes - "I always buy long-haired brushes - they are essential for long lines and they become short after some use!". He apparently uses about 14 or 15 in a 2-hour session (filberts, flats and some rounds for detail), not least because they can become sodden with turps and so won't hold the paint.

Having prepared a fairly basic 6-colour-plus-black-and-white palette, Robin repeatedly mixed and used small quantities of the very low-key greys, browns and blues he wanted. The beauty of this is that it introduces the most subtle (and interesting) variations across the picture. The sea, for example, imperceptably gets "warmer" in the foreground.
Robin Mackervoy with part-finished regatta
The dark areas were roughed in (with an apparent total lack of precision), the hulls and buildings and then the darker parts of the sky and its reflections - "I like to paint in the bits I can't see first and then the bits I can see!". To a rationalist that should mean to paint the dull background before adding the vibrant detail and colour.

Definition appeared gradually, as much by being the result of adding background colour to cut out the feature in question. Only in the last 20 minutes or so were vivid colours, highlights and sharp edges introduced.

The "final" picture was, to our eyes, perfectly saleable, but Robin said that he would need more time (another hour or so?) to get it to what he considered a "finished "state. But what he had achieved he put a frame over (below)

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