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Derek Oliver demonstration
Acrylic & Watercolour (Flowers) 8 April 2011

Visit Derek at www.derek-oliver.com, email oliver.paintedhand@googlemail.com or call 01442 248955

I've never come across a demonstrator with exactly Derek's approach: he knew how much time he had for the demo and had already done just enough of the work to make sure that he ended with a finished painting to leave with us as a raffle prize.

This meant that he had done the pencil drawing and painted most of the background, one of the dog-roses and a couple of the leaves. But he had left enough painting undone to show us how he approached each phase.

The pencil drawing is essential to Derek's "colouring-up-to-the-lines" method of working.
"The paper is 140 lb unstretched Bockingford but almost any paper will do".

"I'm using Galleria but almost any acrylic will do".

"My real favourite is ShinHan, the Korean watercolours: lovely strong colours and very much cheaper than the ones most people buy in England but I've got some Cotman's watercolour here, too".

His palettes are white plastic dinner plates: with a layer of damp blotting paper covered with a bit of tracing paper to keep the acrylics workable.
Brushes? Hog bristle; Nylon acrylic; rigger and small sable, the smallest being a No.5. Soft ones are needed for fine work but you must make sure acrylic doesn't get a chance to set near the ferrule. "Squeeze them out, wash them well and lay them down flat".

There was sucking of the audience's teeth when he admitted to using black acrylic. "Never by itself", he said, "but mixed with a blue, for example, it becomes quite vibrant". He mixed some to complete the part-painted "black" (blue-black) background: partly with a 20mm flat nylon brush but but also with a soft watercolour one for some of the smaller areas. You can't see it in these smaller photos but both these brushes were able to outline the jagged edges of the leaves.
That was the end of acrylic. From now on it was watercolour. After getting some clean water, Derek started painting the leaves. He did this with the No.5 brush, sometimes on dry paper to get a dry-brush effect but mostly he'd wet the leaf first with a No.12 brush. He had talked of French Ultra or Sepia with Cadmium yellow ("liquid sunshine") for greens (or raw sienna for olive greens) but in the event he seemed to use only sap green.

The small brush let him leave touches of white paper on the tips of the jagged leaf-edges and also to strengthen darker areas (mopping out with kitchen paper if he'd gone a bit over the top - or over the line!). He'd co-opted Maureen Hayward to paint a couple of the leaves, and an excellent job she made of it, too - he seemed surprised!
Next came the remaining flowers, again done one petal at a time into individually wetted petals.

The petals needed three reds: Permanent Red and Permanent Violet were well known but I don't think many of us had ever heard of Opéra (or Opera Rose): what Derek referred to as "Saturday night red", the one he used most.

After getting clean water again, he squeezed out a small blob of each and drew from whichever one he needed, starting with the brightest. Normally he mixed the shade he wanted on the palette, but since he was painting into wet paper there was significant mixing there, too.
For the flower centres he got out a new set of colours: lemon yellow, permanent yellow and an orange, plus some black to darken them a little (using a bit of left-over acrylic).

These were touched gently in with the point of the small brush, drawing varying amounts of each colour into the central mixing area of the palette.
He did the stems in two steps. First he'd carefully painted them in red or green and left them to dry as he finished the centres of the flowers. Then he came back into them with burnt umber and burnt sienna for the shadows

The final touch was some water droplets: little circles of thin Chinese white and curved specks of a dark colour and some thicker white for reflections.
Thus ended a most interesting and often amusing evening.
Did you notice the subtle leaf shapes previously painted into the background?

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