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Judit Matthews Pen & Ink/Watercolour Demo

Friday 8 October 2021

Judit Matthews is a Hungarian born illustrative artist working from her studio in Banstead. She has been in the UK since 1994. After her ‘A’ levels she started a teacher training course in art and geography. She wanted it to be art and English, so she took a gap year and came to England as an au pair. While here she met her husband and she stayed. She began the evening by showing everyone her studio where she runs workshops and on-line classes.

She also showed everyone some of the work she has on the walls and in her art stand. It is mainly of wildlife; foxes, hares, owls, birds, but she has also illustrated maps and painted town and seaside scenes. Her work has a distinctive look with lots of detail in an illustrative style. She has also recently illustrated three children’s books.

In her work Judit uses ink, then watercolour and on larger paintings she adds collage. Since this process is quite slow, she will use three different paintings to demonstrate it this evening. She uses Winsor & Newton Black Indian Ink and a mapping nib. Her on-line students can use a fine-liner such as Muji pens to make things faster. Be sure to get the the non-shiny ones as the other Muji pens take longer to dry and become waterproof.

This evening Judit will demonstrate the pen & ink on a deer that she has drawn up in pencil already. Judit prefers the quality of ink and the variation in line that is possible with ink, despite the fact that the nib can catch on the texture of watercolour paper sometimes. You need to be very confident with drawing the lines especially when drawing curves. Do not stop or it will look unnatural. It is possible to teach technique, but it is difficult to teach imagination and composition. It is personal and depends on what you like.

Judit likes wildlife. She is seldom without her sketch book especially when she goes on holiday. She also takes lots of photos. She uses Pinterest and Instagram too for ideas and images, but be wary of copyright issues. Some of her inspiration comes from Hungarian folk art and folk stories. After developing ideas, sketching plants and flowers, Judit works at simplifying them into line drawings.  Being right-handed she works from left to right across the page. Always clean off excess ink from the pen at the end to prolong the life of the nib. The ink takes some time to dry so for the next stage Judit has a drawing of a fox looking towards a little house on a hill.

Judit has a well-used portable set of Winsor & Newton watercolours which she keeps re-filling with her favourite colours. She also buys different brands to get the colours she wants. She likes to work with a maximum of 5 colours and she uses her knowledge of the colour wheel to create a harmonious effect of juxtapositioning one colour with its opposite in the painting. The fox and trees have been simplified and she will use mainly oranges and blues.

For the orange she mixes Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red, and sometimes Cadmium Orange from the tube. To begin with she uses flat colour for the first layer starting with the fox and the two trees in the foreground. She then mixes Winsor Blue, Vermillion and Indigo for the mountains and hills behind. Eventually she uses Cerulean Blue for the sky. She adds a little Viridian to the blue for the hill in the foreground.  She does not wet the paper first as working dry has more control.

Over the flat first layer Judit starts to add more pigment. Gamboge Yellow helps lift the slight opaqueness of Cadmium Yellow. Indigo and Burnt Umber is added to the orange for the tree and bushes behind the house. Viridian and Indigo darken the tree on the left. Once this layer is dry it is time to do some stippling or little dots, a kind of pointillism. Judit also assures us she has a plan for the foreground. She shows us a painting of a VW she has done before to demonstrate the effect she will be aiming at.

She fills in the leaves on the trees and then tackles the foreground. She has decided the light source is coming from top right so makes strong dark lines from the left-hand corner and using her brush to make the shape of the foliage she adds some leaves to these. She also likes to add shadows to the underside and other side of the object from the light source. This almost creates a 3D effect.

Judit used a white Posca pen to draw the white lines of the branches on the left of fox painting. The white Posca pen is great to cover up little errors such as small ink marks that have been made by mistake. They come in lots of different colours. This little badger picture was done using Posca pens.

For the third stage of the process Judit is going to use an owl picture she has painted to demonstrate the way she adds collage to her work. For this she uses a self-healing cutting board, a scalpel, PVA glue, a small brush, and a chocolate tray to hold the glue. She has a made a large collection of different papers of all kinds, from expensive Japanese printed paper to wallpaper from places like B&Q.

She chooses paper with similar shades of colour to her painting. It is very important to use a decent thickness of paper, at least 250 grams, or the paper will wrinkle and buckle with the effect of the wet glue. Collage gives another dimension to the work. Judit also likes to go around the collage with a fine liner Muji pen, not the ink, when the glue has dried.

Over the course of the demonstration Judit gave lots of different pieces of information about herself and her art. She won the Surrey Life magazine’s Landscape Artist of the Year in 2017. In 2000 she took part in Channel 4’s Watercolour Challenge, which she did not enjoy much because it was dominated by the needs of the production staff to the point where she got very cold because she could not put on clothing for the sake of continuity. 

On a much more positive note, she has exhibited at the App Art Exhibition in Godalming and her work has been accepted by the Society of Women Artists (SWA). She has two pieces in their current exhibition at the Mall Galleries.  She has also illustrated these children’s books written by Tina Talbot, which are available from Amazon.

Lockdown was good news for her on-line classes. They take place on Saturday from 10.00 – 11.00 am. The cost is £5.00. She also runs workshops from her studio in Banstead. The full day workshop is £45.00 for 10.30 – 3.00 pm. For more information see her Facebook page.

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