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Joel Wareing demonstration

Visit him at www.joelwareing.co.uk


Acrylic: "Figures in an urban scene", 21 April 2017
Although his website doesn't mention it, for his tertiary education Joel came to England, from South Africa. The bright sunlight and warm colours there strongly affect his paintings of English subjects.

His scenes are in direct sunlight and he always uses a palette of warm colours - a unique style.

People and their body language are his main interest. You could see this at once from the samples he brought of his earlier work.

Tonight Joel had a rather dark photo of people crossing Westminster bridge after work.


He had painted from it before and brought a pastel version for comparison.

He started by very lightly roughing in the important shapes with a charcoal pencil. This let him see the effect on the composition of moving or adding things.

His canvas was quite textured. He recommends proper acrylic gesso but for tonight there was even more texture than usual because he had painted over an earlier work.

Then he picked up a big brush and started putting in the dark cooler areas, using french ultramarine and alizarin crimson mixes - very runny.
Joel always works upright. It lets you stand back to see how things are going and the runs don't matter.

For the really dark areas he mixed a "black" using burnt sienna and ultramarine.

When he felt that had gone far enough he switched to the warm colours: cadmium red, cadmium yellow and raw sienna.

To keep them fresh he used fresh water and a clean brush. Also he made them stronger than they would finally end up: it's easier to reduce the brightness later than to increase it.
Only when much of the original white had been covered did Joel move to smaller brushes, for spaces and corners. For cohesion's sake, you should not cover quite all of the background wash.

The charcoal pencil appeared again now: short angular strokes, more scrubbed than drawn, marking edges and making more structure.

At this comparatively early stage he began mixing a gloss glaze with the darker colours. Acrylics dry slightly duller than they are when you first put them on, and the glaze makes them look richer.
Some of the colours were still not quite as rich as he wanted, so he got the big brush out again to strengthen them up.

Only now did Joel start using white on the palette. He killed the extreme white with touches of raw sienna, ultramarine and crimson to make an opaque greyish mid-tone - and mixed whitened versions of the original colours, too.

With these lighter paints he went over parts of the original bright areas, creating more three-dimensional effects.
Joel was gradually making lines more apparent, drawing negative shapes, revisiting the dark areas and going over parts of existing areas with lighter or darker shades.

In the half-hour after the interval he started to use thicker paint. Patches of the warmer colours jumped out and more highlights were put in. He even added some body paste to give physical texture.

A mix of blue, burnt sienna, crimson and white was used to lighten the skin tones in shadow.
In spite of his dire warnings about keeping the brushes clean and not mixing too many colours, many of the brighter areas had lost their zing and so Joel finished the demo by freshening them up again.

Like many demonstrators, Joel kept on coming up with asides and general bits of advice:

Half-closing your eyes helps to simplify shapes, so you don't get distracted by trivial detail.
Tone (light and dark) is at least as important as colour. You still need to see the composition when you look through half-shut eyes.
In the studio he has five or ten paintings on the go at once, often a series.
Although I failed to understand exactly why, Joel said it was important to have glazes, gels and pastes to mix with your acrylics
Don't mix more than two, at most three, colours or the result will be dull - and keep the brush clean
When you have a colour on the brush, look to see where else you can use it
Most shadows should have soft edges.
Avoid facial features in paintings of groups of people: they take attention away from the body language

So ended a most interesting evening.

Thank you, Joel.


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