Mark Warner Zoom Demonstration

Seascape in Acrylic

Friday 1st March 2024

Mark Warner says he can sum himself up with “Coffee, Music, Paint, lots of Workshops and Demos up and down the country”. Mark was brought up on the west Wales coast at Aberystwyth. He studied Fine Art at Newport and went on to take a teaching degree. He was Head of Department and really enjoyed his time as a teacher. He now works from his studio in Shropshire. For information about the workshops and painting holidays that Mark offers please see his website:

Drawing is paramount to Mark. Before he does a painting he will have made numerous sketches. He likes to sketch in these sketchbooks from Seawhite of Brighton Ltd.

He particularly likes to sketch across both pages to produce a panorama format. There were sketchbooks for Seville, Glastonbury, Chester, etc. He uses 4B black watersoluble pencils. He will then use a roundhead brush and carefully dipping it in water he develops the drawing into a painting. He later explained that it is maintaining the white in these sketches that is key.

Once in the studio he works in A5 and A6 smaller sketchbooks to work on his composition for a painting as can be seen from the photo below.

Mark is particularly fond of using Cerulean Blue as can be seen in the painting he did of apples in his sketch book from north Wales where he has started with Cerulean Blue and then worked into it with a limited palette.

Here Mark has used a Conte sketching pencil, pastels and then highlights with acrylic paint. Pastels can be useful for sketching and painting outside as they are easily transported.

For this demonstration Mark is working on Fabriano pastel paper. He begins by putting some frog tape across the horizon. He then puts Cerulean Blue and Titanium White on his palette. He uses heavy bodied acrylic paints by Golden or Winsor & Newton. He uses a synthetic flat paintbrush even for oils. He has a set of brushes for both acrylic and oil paints.

Mark provided a picture of a beach that he would base his painting on. It was sent to participants prior to the demonstration. He had this displayed picture pinned above his palette for reference.

He mixes pure paint without diluting it. He uses the side of his brush not the tip. In a sense this is going to be the under painting that will seal the paper. He works dark to light. He wants movement and depth so he uses the brush briskly changing direction and pressure all the time.

The underpainting for Mark needs to be quite rough with a sense of movement. He likes to use a slightly smaller brush to produce interesting marks. He leaves the sky underpainting to dry and removes the frog tape carefully pulling at an angle of 45 degrees. He finds that frog tape is better than masking tape which tends to allow paint to seep.

Colour harmony is very important. Mark will incorporate the Cerulean Blue into the sea a little but he starts with Prussian Blue and the lovely Cobalt Turquoise Light and Cobalt Turquoise by Winsor & Newton. Golden have Phthalocyanine Turquoise and Liquitex have a Teal that work well for the colour of the sea.

Variation in colour in the sea helps to give perspective and the dark area behind the waves will push them forward. He uses Turquoise Light for the breaking waves and he adds some Naples Yellow to bring in a green into the colour of the sea. In the shadow of the waves he seas Cobalt Blue. Everyone sees colour differently. He likes to test out the colour on a strip of the same colour paper as the one he is using to see how the colour will look on it.

When painting the waves Mark is looking for shapes by twisting and turning his flat brush. He mixes Naples Yellow and Magenta to create a warm colour for the wet sand under the waves. He scrapes along the unprimed paper which is sucking up the paint. The paper doesn’t cockle but even if it does it is easily remedied by turning it over and ironing it on the other side when the paint is dry.

He uses more Naples Yellow for the dry sand in the foreground and he lightens the sea at the horizon. Then using Titanium White and Cobalt he moves the brush with different pressure to work up a series of layers and colours for the white waves. The danger is to go too light too soon.

He begins to develop the shape of the waves. He advises to take care with symmetry and the foam will give perspective. He uses a rigger brush but always the side of the brush never like a pen. He does lots of scraping and flicking but he takes care not to go over it all. He uses a ‘0’ rigger to work in some surface foam behind the waves. He also uses some Cerulean Blue in some of the wave to keep the colour harmony which would be reflected from the sky.

After the break Mark uses a soft dry brush and heavy body acrylic to create the fissures in the clouds. Titanium White and Prussian Blue create the mid-tones again. The paint is well mixed and there is less paint on the brush to scrape it onto the rough surface of the paint that is already there. He wants some of the under painting to come through. He wants to avoid fingers of clouds in the sky. The paint is drying but Mark tends to work quickly even so he does not use retardants even when painting outside ‘en plein air’.

Mark uses Light Phthalo Green by Golden to create the clouds that seem to rest on the horizon. Using pure Cerulean Blue he paints the headland then mixes a light misty colour to paint along parts of the horizon. Mark will often paint two paintings of the same scene. He finds this stops him over working one and at the same time it allows him to push the other a little more.

Using Naples Yellow and a slight mix of Magenta to take the edge of the bright colour he paints the dry sand. Then he starts to develop the waves creating reflections on the edge and highlights on the crests. He tickles the surface of the water behind the waves to create the foam on the surface of the sea.

Mark likes to put lines into his work to create a balance between the different marks by adding shafts of light. He has even added a vapour trail. For the foreground he might use a palette knife or a credit card holding it almost parallel to the page to create the texture he wants in the foreground.

The time was running out on this demonstration. It was not possible to finish the painting but Mark had given everyone a very good idea of how he produces his distinctive style of painting with its energy, exciting brush strokes and appealing colour palette.

Mark was asked whether he would frame paintings that were on Fabriano paper and he said that he frames them behind glass as seen below. Oils on canvas tend to be in a floating frame.

During the course of the demonstration Mark showed a variety of different paintings he has done recently. To see more of his work and find out about workshops and painting holidays or to get his newsletter he has a website at:

The chairman, Sue Whitehead, thanked Mark for his demonstration and reiterated the fact that his colour palette and method of mixing and applying the paint had been particularly helpful and inspiring.

2 replies on “Mark Warner Zoom Demonstration”

A very interesting and generous demo. Mark’s willingness to impart his knowledge was so exciting in the way he showed how happy he was.
Thank you Mark.

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