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Graham Scandrett: Landscape in Mixed Media, 15 Oct 2010
( Click for November addition)

Graham had brought a selection of his mixed media work to show the effect of using different "mixes" of acrylic, watercolour, pencils, charcoal, crayons, pastels and indian ink . . .
. . . but it's worth looking too at the neat way he had put his materials out (the watercolour box was out of range). Note:
big wash brushes, very thin red-handled flat one and yellow-handled Daler Rowney and Isabey Petit Gris squirrels (lovely point for detail and lots of holding capacity for washes;
the only acrylics he had were inks
the many Neocolor II crayons
the two water containers (essential to have clean water)
the blue spray bottle to keep paint moist.
Graham started by stressing the importance of drawing - he feels he's been lazy if a sketchbook lasts him more than about ten days when he's on holiday. For example, ten-minute sketches can be done whilst you're held up in the car or coach, some in pencil or ink, some in colour - "a minimum of 3 a day".

He can't work from photos (too much detail, although he might use them as reference). For today's demo he had started with a small watercolour sketch. From this he had drawn a few lines defining the shapes that had made him want to do the painting in the first place. Last came a charcoal sketch placing the main features and indicating some tonal differences. This was his main reference.
Then he started on his blank sheet of 300gsm Saunders Waterford NOT paper (less absorbant than Bockingford but, strangely, also less easy to lift colour out from).

He doesn't stretch his paper, just attaches it to the board with clips. At home he would normally soak it in the bath for 20 minutes and then work flat for at least the next 10 or 15, but that's no good for a demo. So he just wet it with the big wash brush, squirted in yellow and orange acrylic inks and spread them with a smaller wash brush.

You're now already seeing the beginnings of a problem with landscape: it can easily divide into three horizontal strips that just guide the viewer's eyes straight over to rivals' pictures to right and left!
So the complementary (blue/purple) sky colour is taken round the sides, the sky is warmed, some of the orange brought down to the bottom and a mix of the orange and some burnt sienna used to darken the corners. To reduce the vividness of a blue glaze, indian red is about the only colour that mixes without going green or purple (used down both sides).

I find I forgot to notice when he was using acrylic ink and when watercolour. The ink doesn't "cauliflower" and is absolutely permanent once it has dried. Watercolour is better for thin glazes and a lovely misty look, but either can go on top of the other.

It is probably wise to use separate brushes for mixing and applying paint - unless you want "special effects". The paints in the brush will never be as well mixed as you thought they were.

The thin flat brush draws good initial marks for the trees and banks ("keep a little finger on the paper") but no sooner were these marks made than he decided he wanted to strengthen the main orange tree.
Then came the Neocolor II crayons, defining the trees and other edges. For branches there is a little knack to develop: working on a damp surface, "press, twist and turn" in the direction of growth.

You can use the crayons as a source of colour for an area, applying it to dry paper and spreading with a wet brush. But remember that if you need to blend two colours it's best to do one at a time, drying between them.

Graham was moving all over the picture so that he could always see how it was developing.
He kept quiet that he was becoming less and less satisfied with the central orange blob (above) and was probably tempted to change to the back-up picture that he had started at home in case a catastrophe had occured by the interval (right, not shown until after the end of the demo!).

"There are often failures- don't be discouraged".

Continuing from the above, Graham finished with a mass of tweaks and tips:
Shadows can be the same basic colour as the object, but softened
Where something like a tree crosses in front of light and dark, remember "dark against light and light against dark"
Let the painting, not the original scene, decide where new colours are needed
Soft pastels give sparkle - you can put them onto dry or wet paper
Bottom corners looked empty: darken them
White acrylic ink can cover, make highlights or soften bright colours
Darks can be put in under hedges etc with the thin flat brush
After another plea to keep sketching, Graham suggested that the left and right edges would be better trimmed a little, that the orange tree hadn't worked and that this one would go to the "gallery in the sky". Fresh paintings do not always finish as the masterpieces one hopes for, but that didn't make the evening any less entertaining and instructive. Well done, again, Graham.

Graham was not happy with the result of this demo so here's an extra bit of advice:
Get out your scissors and make separate pictures of the bits you're happier with.
(These photos were taken under different lighting conditions, so please excuse the colour variation)

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