Members’ Critique 2024

Friday 9th February

There was a room full of artists at the Members’ Critique on Friday and Liz Seward, the President, had kindly offered to share her knowledge and expertise by adding her constructive criticism and ideas which were much appreciated.

Sue Whitehead and Patti Dutton put up the paintings on the easel for people to see and comment upon.

Natalia painted this boat in gouache. It was well received and people admired the lovely blue of the water. Gouache is not easy to work. It dries opaque and matte. Liz Seward said it was not easy to work and the artist has done well here. Acrylic is more forgiving.

Les Patey’s “Oyster Catcher” continued the boating theme. Once again people admired the water and the faint headland that gave a real sense of distance to the painting. Liz Seward pointed out that the mast was in exactly the right position as it is on the ‘golden third’.

[The rule of thirds and the golden ratio are both ways of dividing up a space in order to create a pleasing composition. The rule of thirds is a simple principle whereby a space is divided into three equal sections, both horizontally and vertically.]

Carole Head explained that she brought this painting in because it is painted on canvas that comes in a tear off pad. It makes it easy to store lots of paintings that would be bulky if painted on real canvas. Liz Seward said that once framed it would be acceptable for an exhibition. She also said she liked the birds in the painting as they were essential to give it scale. Les Patey warned that he had painted on this kind of canvas but be warned that when wet with glue to stick it to a board for framing the canvas can shrink.

Craig Whitehead said that this was an hour and a half portrait sitting. When the sitter arrived she asked to be allowed to read which meant that she had her head down which created a difficult neck to paint. It was agreed that this different perspective was a good learning exercise. Craig said that it was painted in only four colours which was another challenge.

Once again Natalia painted this painting of a tram in her home country of Hungary in gouache. People thought it was delightful but that it deserved a wider mount and a different frame to set it off to its best advantage.

This painting by Sue Whitehead of her husband Craig and their dog on a beach led to lots of discussion about composition. It was felt the figure’s legs seemed disproportionate. Craig recalled it had been very windy so the coat was wider than might be expected. Sue painted it straight from and photograph and Liz suggested it is always best to draw a sketch first which allows composition issues to be seen and remedied. One idea here was to swap the figure of the man and the dog. Sue was keen to try this.

Patti Dutton likes to work from her own imagination. She is an intuitive artist. She does not paint to sell however the room agreed that this painting would be likely to sell well. Patti always starts with the background. She paints with Brusho Crystal Colour which when sprayed with water the colours spread and change. For the butterflies she did use a stamp, and why not, it works well.

Sue Whitehead painted this seascape which brought lots of admiration for the sky. Liz Seward said that the white corner distracted from the sky . Sue said it was painted directly from a photograph. She agreed that making the foreground all grasses would be worth trying.

Diana Flier started the drawing of this street scene of Skopelos in the Greek Sporades. It is painted in watercolour with additional detail in pen. The yellow masking was very distracting and it provided Liz Seward with the perfect opportunity to use her half cut mounts to show everyone what a difference a good mount can do for a painting.

Not only has the mount helped to give the painting a greater presence it also lead people to notice the interesting detail of bags and clothes in the shop in the bottom corner. It was suggested that there could to be more detail on the other side of the painting to bring it balance.

Jonathan Morse brought this painting of a painting by the artist Vlad Yeliseyev. He chose to practice watercolour as he liked the subtle colours the artist used. Liz Seward could see the appeal but at the same time darkening the windows in the near building would bring these forward to create more perspective. Also at the moment everything is one tone where as a green glaze might work well here.

This still life painting by Jonathan Morse came from an exercise of wet in wet watercolour painting from the SAA magazine. The lovely colours and the background were much admired. Liz Seward remarked that the green fruit on the right had been cut off and that often a still life group is expected to be contained within the painting.

There was an audible gasp from the room when Lesley Kilner’s waterlily painting was put up on the easel. FCSA have their own Monet, someone suggested. Liz Seward remarked that waterlilies are not easy to paint. She admired the way the eye is drawn through the painting into the distance. The light on the leaves and the water is also masterful.

Maureen Hayward’s mixed media painting fascinated everyone with its variety of texture. Maureen explained that she had used lino cuts for the birch trees and that she had made the the textures with egg shells, oats and bits of string among other things.

Lilya Zinchenko is an artist from Ukraine who is living in Frimley at the moment. She wanted to paint these icons on wood and she eventually found some that was suitable in Hobbycraft. Lilya used gold paint for these icons but she has now sourced some gold leaf for the future. (In ‘breaking news’ Hobbycraft will be opening soon in the vacant unit next to Waitrose in Bagshot).

Greg Ward grew a significant number of sunflowers in his garden specifically to be able to paint them. This is one of a series of six sunflowers in oils. This is his least favourite. It was painted in full sunshine so it has no shadows. The painting of the bottom leaf was admired.

Greg Ward told us that he is also known as “Smile” as he has been painting under this pseudonym for some time. He always starts with sketches. Above are ideas for two large paintings that will be called “Cat Scream” and “Passed Out from Life”. They will eventually be about eight foot in size.

Everyone was impressed with the detail and reality of this delicious looking strawberry by Lesley Kilner. It is painted in acrylic with admirable realism.

John Stacey is known for his neat attention to details as can be seen clearly illustrated in this painting of Shanklin in the Isle of Wight. It takes John quite a long time to achieve this level of detail.

Above is a detail from the painting showing the little figures and the care that has been taken with the thatched roofs and the shadows.

“Loch Arkaig” painted in water based oils by John Stacey shows the same careful attention to detail. People admired the serenity and simplicity of the scene.

Natalia painted this watercolour of cars from a photograph her brother took in Italy. Liz Seward was impressed with the accuracy of the drawing of the cars and people liked the clever reflections of the cars in the wet road and puddles.

Carole Head painted “Northern Lights” when she was doing a watercolour techniques course some ten years ago. Everyone had to frame at least one painting each term. The double mount with the brown edging and a brown frame now looks so dated. She is wondering whether it was worth removing it and perhaps re-sizing and re-framing it. Liz Seward agreed it has a dated look although the painting itself had some merit.

Fran Green brought this work-in-progress in to try to decide whether to continue it in the same way across the top. Liz suggested that she might paint the upper part in lighter green to keep the focus on the bright fruits at the bottom.

Craig Whitehead has made several re-workings of this seated figure but he is not happy with it. He does not like the fact that he could not get the shoes onto the page. Liz Seward said that not all paintings have to be perfect finished pieces, this was a good exercise that produced some successful elements.

Natalia painted this portrait of her son’s cousin from a photograph. This would have been the ideal candidate for a Themed Competition “Cute” but in the end it was decided that the Annual Exhibition Theme this year will be “Action”. People suggested that more shading between the rabbit and the little girl’s arm would give more definition. Painting teeth is often a problem and Liz Seward suggested that making the teeth at the back of the mouth slightly darker than those at the front can help.

There was still a little time before the end of the evening so Liz Seward showed the room the colour pencil painting she is putting into the Heritage Gallery for the new hang. This painting is called “The Last Straw” and it was created using Caran.

One reply on “Members’ Critique 2024”

Congratulations to everybody. Some lovely work with lots of positive comments.
I am so sorry that I could not join you, it was not a good day for me . Enough said.
Best Wishes

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