Fatima Pantoja

Cityscape Live Acrylic Demonstration

Friday 16th June 2023

Fatima Pantoja studied Fine Arts in Valencia. She came to live in Hampshire from Spain in 2011. She has given a portrait demonstration to Frimley & Camberley Society of Arts in the past and she was the first artist to give the Society a Zoom demonstration when Covid prevented everyone meeting in person. She is known to a great many people now because she reached the semi finals of Portrait Artist of the Year 2019. This evening she is going to demonstrate a cityscape in acrylics.

Fatima Pantoja holding her large No 12 brush

At the start of the evening Fatima gave us a very useful little tip. She found that her canvas had developed a little dent. No need to panic. Just wet the canvas on the back and the dent will come out. Fatima explained that when she is painting she gets very excited and then she starts to speak very quickly with a noticeable Spanish accent. She plans to use different techniques in her painting and this means that what she produces will not necessarily be traditional.

Original reference photo of Havana in Cuba

Fatima prefers not to use photographs but if she is going to use a photo for reference then she makes it suit her taste and purposes. She pointed out that it is possible to change a photograph by altering its size and shape by cutting it up and manipulating the image. This evening she used scissors to make little echos of the photograph she was using for reference. She did this by having multiple copies of the image and layering them over the original photo.

Fatima cut echos from copies of the original to add variety and interest

When planning a painting Fatima would usually make lots of different sketches to try out a variety of shapes and sizes. If you go outside the standard format for a landscape it can become more interesting. She has chosen to paint her cityscape a portrait layout.

The original photograph has been manipulated in a way that the eye is confused and fascinated as it tries to make sense of what it sees.

Fatima’s palettes

Fatima uses a plastic palette that can be covered to make it airtight and preserve the paint to be used again another day. The clean palette has been prepared for this demonstration. The very colourful older paint is what happens to her paint as she works. People have their own preference for setting out the paints but Fatima uses an L-shape of warm colours going to cold colours. By keeping them separate it helps to keep the colours pure and clean. She has set out larger amount of Titanium White and Cobalt Blue. She uses Cobalt Blue with Cadmium Red to get a grey she likes or mixes it with Magenta to produce a purple.

Palette colours are set out warm to cold

Fatima uses colours that she likes and one of her favourite colours is pink and the large bright pot of bright pink paint will find its way into this painting too. She stresses that whatever you see is as valid as what anyone else sees. To begin she makes a pale pink colour with Pink Magenta and Titanium white. Armed with her 12 inch old brush she starts to sketch out the image. It is very important to keep looking carefully at the reference picture. Look for negative and positive spaces to help block in the buildings. You can accentuate angles to add a bit of movement. Fatima chooses to avoid buildings that are butting up to each other, ‘kissing’ as she called it, so she makes sure lines do not run into each other to create a sense of distance one building from the other. A little artistic license is always permitted.

Having blocked in an idea of the shape and position of the buildings and she made a wash of Cobalt Blue with a little Magenta and plenty of water for the sky, still using her 12 inch brush. Fatima changed to a flat head brush to add more detail. She mixes a dirty green colour of two blues and a touch of yellow and red to paint the cupola roofs. She tends to paint holding the brush at the very end. She is still only providing guidelines for the future painting.

It was interesting to see how Fatima ensures that her lines are straight and at right angles to each other. She knows that she tends to draw lines that lean a little, so she uses pieces of paper that she knows are absolutely straight as they are machine manufactured. On the other hand, she creates stencils of different shapes by cutting them out with a pair of scissors to make curves for the edge of the domes and arches on the buildings.

It is important to work all over the painting and to use colours from one area in some way in other parts to the painting to create colour harmony. Try not to concentrate on only one area at a time. This image takes the eye into the middle of the painting and to the building in the distance so it is important not to give too much detail to the foreground. She will not make a point of counting the number of windows or worry about accurately detailing the balcony pillars. Most of the time less is more.

To increase the amount of paint and the texture Fatima will use a palette knife technique. She does have an expensive silicone brush. It is possible to get these with several different shaped tips but Fatima finds that she can create the shapes she wants either by using card or glue sticks. Baker Ross glue applicator sticks are very inexpensive and work well, although they do bend a bit after a lot of use.

As well as showing the room the silicone brush she can use, she also recommended Princeton brushes and the Backer Ross glue applicator sticks which are so cheap they can be bought in boxes of 50. It was a very hot evening and everything dried very quickly however Fatima manages to keep acrylic paint for weeks by using airtight containers, even jam jars or plastic sandwich boxes will do this provided no air can get in.

Fatima is not a quick painter. A painting such as this one will take as many of ten sessions like this to work it up. Fatima will continue to develop this painting over the coming days and she will let us see it when it is finished. She stressed that it is important to remember that acrylic paint dries much darker than it looks when it is first applied. She chose this scene for the colours and she will continue to keep the colours light. White should be used with care to keep colours transparent.

It was a very hot summers evening but the time flew by and everyone appreciated the variety of information and techniques Fatima had imparted while painting at the same time. Thank you Fatima for coming to FCSA once again.

Write up by Carole Head

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *