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Ben Manchipp: Marine demonstration in oils, 14/5/10

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Visit him at www.manchipp.com,
email ben@manchipp.com or phone 01737 246061

Ben brought examples of his work (sorry about the reflections). There are plenty more on his website.

Ben prefers an oil primer if he is going to use oils for the underpainting but tonight's canvas had been double primed with white acrylic primer. You can put oils on top of acrylic but not vice versa.

Waiting on the easel was an hour's worth of acrylic under-painting, near enough to an earlier study (below) for me to have to look quite closely to satisfy myself that it was not a printed reproduction.

Ben repeatedly stressed the importance of careful and accurate drawing, especially if you are going to use thin glazes. "The drawings and sketchbooks are almost more important than the paintings themeselves."

He uses a white palette, so he can see how his glazes will look on the white canvas. His colours were limited: burnt sienna, yellow ochre, french ultramarine, cadmium scarlet, sap green, cadmium yellow, a tiny bit of white and, later, a touch of turquoise.
To thin the paint and speed drying, Ben prefers Liquin to white spirit or turps (which are poisonous).

It soon became clear that he loves watercolour, which, historically, came first. Relevant watercolour techniques include, in particular, glazing and letting the white of the primer (or paper) show through, instead of mixing in or painting white. "White mixed with colour makes it look chalky".

For this demo he was going to use watercolour-like glazes of oils rather than "old-fashioned" impasto:

He started by pulling some blue down on the palette with a big filbert, lightening it slightly with a tiny touch of white (and Liquin?) and then scumbling it thinly for the sky and the standing water. A rag produced the soft-edged patch of light around the sun.

The earlier study

Colours blocked in.
A little burnt sienna converted the blue to a warm grey which, again, was glazed into parts of the sky and into the wet mud. For Ben, part of the magic of this view into the sun was the silvery colour of the light coming off this mud.

Transparent greens were made by mixing sap green with Liquin, a little yellow and some blue to tone it down. I was surprised that he seemed to get away with using the same green mixtures for both distance and foreground but the dry brush technique used in the distance gave it a lighter tone.

This "blocking in" of colour establishes the feel of the painting and "gives hope to the artist". Here however, not having his preliminary sketches, Ben referred quite frequently to the earlier study before committing himself. He reiterated that it was important to be thinking through what he was doing.
After the interval he started putting in a little more detail, including the turquoise for the boat covers.

As these details were added Ben became more philosophical:

Paint for yourself, not for sale.
To keep your work interesting (to you as well as others) try new methods, get out of your comfort zone.
Correct errors - this teaches you where you went wrong.
Paint less; think more; practice more.
Work on more than one painting at a time.

Time ran out before all the details were complete but the result, below, was very satisfying and the audience was very well pleased with the evening Ben had given us.



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