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Graham Scandrett DEMO/WORKSHOPS, 2009

February - October

Friday 16, 23 and 30 October 2009
"Three pictures from one starting point"

Week 1, Week 2, Week 3

Each participant is to provide their own starting point (sketch or photo) of landscape, seascape, architecture, plant etc
Week 1 (Oct 16th) Analyse composition of chosen starting point. Produce a pencil drawing with tonal and textural representation. Add colour with watercolours, coloured pencils etc.

The emphasis was on the idea of “series”, because each painting is to be based on the preceding one, only the first making direct reference to the photographic source material we had been asked to bring.
As we have learned to expect from Graham, he is insistent that the starting point for any painting, particularly, but not exclusively, of landscape, is the decision about what aspect of the subject is of prime attraction and to concentrate on that.

The other elements of the subject should then be manipulated and placed within the frame to highlight the focal point. In this first week we prepared a drawing bringing out the tonal and textural properties of our chosen subjects. Look at Brian Richardson's source and texural drawing, here.
Week 2 (Oct 23rd) From last week's result develop a painting based on a selected colour scheme, analagous, complementary, limited palette in any media.

Graham reminded us of today's aim. We were to decide what sort of scheme we felt would best suit the picture:
analagous (using paints from only about one-third segment of the colour circle);
complementary (using colours from a narrow range of the colour circle and the corresponding ones from the other side)
limited palette (using not more than about 2 or 3 reds, blues and yellows)
monochrome (using only one colour or two colours mixed in different proportions).

There were as many different approaches as students. These should be self explanatory.
Week 3 (Oct 30th) From the original photo and the two previous weeks' work, develop ideas towards design by abstracting shapes and forms using any media including collage

This third week gave our creative energies free rein to tackle our subjects in any way our imaginations led. Graham stressed that he wanted us to avoid a conventional representation of the scene, instead concentrating on what were its striking features. Some of us made patterns based on repetition and rotation of the principal element of the original photo, others made collages and yet others used exaggerated colour to bring out the point of interest. "Try anything and see what happens". "Play intelligently with what you have".

The end result of the course was to make us think more freely about our approach to painting and to be less inhibited with our technique. We all had a lot of fun and learned a lot. Thank you Graham.

I've tried in these photo's to show several intermediate stages of people's work.

Friday 13, 20 and 27 February 2009
"Composing Your Pictures"

Week 1, Week 2, Week 3
Week 1 (13 February 2009) - Landscapes/Seascapes
Subject matter
Division of space
Centre of interest
Tonal development to enhance composition,
Spatial and atmospheric perspective.

Workshop objective: from an individual chosen starting point, either photo or sketch, to develop a picture using pen and wash
Students to bring:
Photo or sketch of landscape or seascape,
Cartridge paper or hot pressed watercolour paper,
Waterproof pen
Watercolour for wash
Webmaster's notes: Many of tonight's comments on landscape composition also apply to the later weeks' still-life and portrait painting.

One thing that Graham kept repeating was that all the decisions about composition are yours: nothing is necessarily "wrong". Think about it and make conscious decisions: for example, would a narrower portrait shape be a better than wider landscape? Might features be moved closer or further apart, slopes emphasised, textures or colours emphasised?

The centre of interest is what made you choose to paint the scene in the first place . It will probably be where you put the most detail.

Do not be too slavish about putting the centre of interest on the golden section or 1/3 division when you divide the space.

If foreground is a problem, make it very simple, adding features only to balance the overall picture. For seascapes beware of "bookends".

There can be both spatial and atmospheric perspective. The pen can give a wide textural and tonal range, not just by cross-hatching but also, for paler shades, by watering the ink down to give paler shades.

NOTE: I didn't manage to get any decent photographs of people's work on the night, so you'll have to excuse me for showing later photo's of my sources and what I did.
This one is black ink and a green wash on cartridge paper.

(Webmaster's perk)
WEEK 2 (20 February 2009) - Still Life
Subject matter
Setting up and lighting
Scale and viewpoint
Rythms and echo
Colour analysis

Workshop objective: From group still lifes to produce a full colour painting
Students to bring:
Rough sketching paper
Painting equipment of your own choice
Paper or board
Webmaster's notes: This week gave us an extra freedom. We could arrange our objects to give the best composition from the viewpoint of the artist (don't stand to arrange the objects and then sit to paint them).

Once you start painting, decisions are needed about "background". Some excellent artists make it completely featureless, others have it extend and include lines and curves to guide the movement of the eye. These may be drawn simply or they may be created by filling the background with masses of detail. Above all, it must complement the arrangement.

If you are working on canvas or with particular size requirements, decisions about cropping are needed before the painting is started. Otherwise you can experiment with L-shaped half mounts, not just to see the effect of cropping the sides but also of rotating the arrangement within the frame.

Pastel pencils on white cartridge paper

For his short pastel demonstration Graham emphasised the importance of composition by starting with big strokes and loose swathes of colour, getting these right before going into detail with darker negative shapes. This way he minimised the need to move things later if the curves of the objects were found not to work together.
WEEK 3 (27 February 2009) - Portrait from a photo with good lighting
Subject matter
Scale in relation to format
Relationship between figure and background
Tonal relationship between features and background
What is background?

Workshop objective: From chosen photo to produce a picture on mid-toned paper using dark and light media (e.g. charcoal and white chalk, Conté, pastel etc.
Students to bring:
Good tonal photographs of person, NOT TOO SMALL (good examples can often be found in magazines)
mid-toned pastel paper
light and dark drawing materials (see left)
Webmaster's notes: For portraits, although there is little opportunity for deliberate distortion, the artist can still affect the composure of the subject and he/she has as much control over background as has the still-life painter. Background can help to create the mood that the artist wants and can add important information about the sitter.

There are conflicting rules of thumb about the tonal detail of the background. One school of thought is that you should maximise the contrast between the face and the background (i.e. dark background behind the well-lit side of the face and vice versa). Others, however, like to lose the edges of the face by doing exactly the opposite, so that attention is concentrated on the central features. As Graham kept saying: "The choice is yours"

The comments above on cropping still life paintings are perhaps even more important for portraits, especially the possibility of rotating the arrangement within the frame.

Charcoal and white Conté on brown pastel paper

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or Graham's other years:1999 - 2001 - 2003 - 2004 - 2007 - 2008 - 2009 - 2010 - 2011 - 2012 - 2013 - 2014 - 2015 - 2016

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