The Surrey Heath Show

As you can see, the new banners that Peter Tuitt ordered recently worked really well and made the stand look very good. There had been a number of changes to the set up inside the marquee at the Surrey Heath Show this year so that the FCSA stand was smaller than before and we found ourselves in one of the corners.

The Guides were no longer providing teas and cakes in the central area of the marquee. Instead their place was taken by the music stage and straw bales for the audience to sit on. Instead of tea and cakes there was a beer stand. It should be said that despite the smaller pitch it was a successful event for us. We sold three paintings, a few cards and even signed up a new member.

Peter Tuitt and John Stacey manned the stand throughout the day while members came to offer their support, some in the morning and others in the afternoon. Congratulations to Val Brooks and Sue Whitehead for the sale of their paintings.


Surrealism Talk/Workshop with Cedric Day

Cedric began the evening by showing a variety of slides by different Surrealist artists, some were well-known such as Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Man Ray and Magritte. He also told us about some lesser-known surrealist artists such as Odilon Redon, who is regarded as one of the predecessors of the surrealist art movement, or Yves Tanguy who explored dreams and the unconscious through his paintings of misshapen rocks and lunar landscapes.

The second half of the evening Cedric encouraged everyone to produce some surrealist inspired work of our own. He had told us about Andre Masson, who developed automatic drawing where he would allow his hand to move freely across the page or canvas without a conscious plan. Next Cedric experimented with creating communal drawings. We were given around 60 seconds to add our contribution before the paper was passed to the person on our right. We continued until our original piece of paper returned to us.


Cedric also introduced the idea of decalcomania where paint is squeezed between two surfaces and then pulled apart. At one point in the second half of the evening Cedric directed a communal set of paintings by giving each artist 60 seconds to work on a sheet of paper before passing it on to the next person. The results were surprisingly successful, and one might even say ‘surreal’.

Margaret and John clearly enjoyed seeing the result of their efforts with this technique.


Freddie Drawing Workshop

Jenny Colquhoun brought along her Sealyham Terrier, Freddie, to act as the model for this unusual life drawing event in the calendar. Although Freddie was incredibly obedient, quite naturally, he did keep moving. This was a challenge which people tried to meet in different ways. Some people started a new sketch for each different pose while others, who must have had photographic memories, chose to concentrate on one pose.


Max Hale Demo

Artist, painter, tutor

Friday 11th November 2017


Max Hale began the session by explaining that Muriel Woodman, who had volunteered to be his subject was his ‘sitter’ not his model.  Portrait painters have a sitter while life classes have a model.  Max then stressed the importance of getting the initial drawing right.  The success of portrait work is probably 80% in the drawing.  He began the portrait by drawing with a pencil on a piece of half imperial 300 gsm standard Bockingford.  He uses this paper because it is a good price, it is stable and does not absorb too quickly.   

He starts by mapping out the shape of the head.  The head should occupy at least half the space of the paper.  When drawing a three quarter portrait, the side of the face is the key line. He then drew in the eyeline and measured the distance to the base of the nose.  Distances and angles are vital.  The feature of the face that makes someone recognisable is not the eyes as most people assume, it is the lower half of the face, the lips and the jaw line.     

Max keeps his materials fairly standard too.  The watercolour paints he used were QOR by Golden, whose paints have a flow enhancer.  He likes to use two palettes, one for blues and the cold colours and another for the reds and the warm colours.  All his brushes are synthetic and he uses really big brushes.  “If you use a small brush you have to work twice as hard.  Large brushes give you power, square brushes give you real power while round brushes are good for detail such as the eyes.” 

Watercolour is all about planning, it is crucial to do your thinking outside of your painting time.  “Think like a tortoise and paint like a hare.”  Flesh tones are tricky.  Max uses Cadmium Yellow 1 and Cadmium Red 2 with a fraction of Cerulean. He paints straight onto the paper.  He does not stretch his paper and he does not wet it before starting.  

Max’s advice:  “BE BOLD AND BE BRAVE! Keep the brush very wet, keep it fluid so the painting keeps its vigour and life.  Don’t paint bits and pieces, everything needs to be connected.  It is vital to walk away from your work.  Painting on the flat makes this impossible.  Don’t worry about the drips!”

 Max used Cobalt and Cadmium Orange for the hair.  Be careful when painting a portrait not to make it too dark.  There needs to be space behind the head and the face needs to stay free.  He chose Alizarin for the background to balance the blue of Muriel’s jumper.  He then used a round head brush to paint the eyes.  “Remember to paint what you see, never what you think might be there.  Never leave the whites of the eye white.  This just makes a person look scary. Eyes are the settling point of the portrait”.

Be brave!  If you make a mistake, wet the area, then dry it and you can lift it out.  Soften edges with a dry brush.  Most students make the nose too long.  Creating the right length is crucial.  Remember you are creating a three dimensional picture so look carefully at the shadow areas.  When it comes to painting the lips do not make them larger or redder than they really are.  Never paint the lips in their entirety.  It is not necessary.”  

 Max concentrated on the shadow areas after the break.  In watercolour it is important to remember the tone lightens when the paint dries so make sure shadows have a strong tonal quality.  Try not to go over an area more than twice or the colours will lose their vibrancy and become muddy.  Often painters do not use enough pigment. To finish Max put in some defining lines, under the chin and around the side of the face.  He reiterated his advice to keep your palette simple.  It is dangerous to have too many colours and better to master a few.  


Brian Sayers Workshop

Saturday 29th April 2017

Deron, Old Welore, Yateley

Frimley & Camberley Society of Arts is very fortunate to have Jacky Corrall as one of its members for she kindly offers her house as the location for one of her brother’s workshops and members are invited to attend.  Brian is a professional artist and informative and engaging teacher.  Brian began  the session by giving a context to Cubism.  He explained that often art movements gain their names as a result of an insult.  The Impressionsts came to be known as such because the French critic Louis Leroy seized on the title of Claude Monet’s painting Impression, Sunrise  and accused the group of painting nothing but impressions.    Cubism derived its name from remarks that were made by the critic Louis Vauxcelles, who derisively described Braque’s 1908 work “Houses at L’Estaque” as composed of cubes.

Brian went on to explain that artists such as Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso revolutionised early 20th century painting and sculpture by finding a new way to see things.   They rejected the idea that art should copy nature through the use of traditional techniques of perspective, modelling and foreshortening.  Cubists reduced and fractured objects into geometric forms at the same time as using multiple vantage points. Brian used the sheet he had prepared together with examples of his own work, coloured prints of cubist paintings and a very large book on Cubism from a Tate exhibition to set everyone on the road to producing some artwork of their own inspired by what they had seen and heard.

Everyone was stunned by the youngest member of the group, Isabella.  Brian used one of her pieces to cut up and illustrate how the idea of fracturing could be taken even further.

The day produced a wonderful array of work and everyone left with a true perception of Cubism and its ability to enliven and refresh the way we see and paint things. 


Jane Disney Demonstration

Friday 24th March 2017

Jane Disney has been drawing since she was very young and her preferred medium is pastels.  Her favourite subject matter is animals and this evening she has chosen to do a rabbit, appropriately just in time for Easter.  She had already prepared the line drawing to work from at home.   She used Trace Down to transfer her sketch to the black pastel paper.  To make it more visible she then drew around the traced down outline with white coloured pencil.   

There was no reference material for the drawing as it came from Jane’s imagination and experience of drawing animals. Her portraits are always taken from photographs and   commissions of animals are also faithful copies of photographs, although she likes to meet the animal as well if that is possible, but her animal pictures usually come from her imagination. The most popular one of these was of two hares looking at the moon.  She has sold that and 42 prints of it.

Jane Disney admits she has an unusual way of working by starting at the top left of the picture and working down to the bottom right hand corner.  She is right handed and she has found that by working this way the pastel does not get rubbed and spoilt as she works.  She likes to work with Carbothello pastels which she buys on the internet as they are not available in Hobbycraft and Camberley no longer has an art shop.  An audience member said that they are available in Pullingers of Farnham. Jane uses a sharpener to sharpen them and buys these in bulk.  There are probably only 12 good sharpenings in the life of a sharpener.  

For this little rabbit she is going to work in muted colours using a natural grey to start and then building up the highlights and lowlights, blending the pastel shades together as she works.  She sometimes uses cotton tips to blend and soften areas but Carbothello are very silky and blendable. Having started with the bony eye sockets she worked on the nose adding a tease of pale pink.  

Eyes are an obsession with Jane.  They have to be exactly right.  Once the eyes were as she wanted she carried on with the body fur. Once again she used a little flesh pink to the inner ear to add warmth and to suggest the skin tone through the fur as rabbit’s ears are fairly thin and translucent. 

Jane attends about 14 events a year all over the South East and in the Isle of Wight.  She cuts her own mounts and she explained that it is important to mount or even double mount pastel pictures as the recess prevents the build up of static between the pastel and the glass which over time can remove the pastel from the paper.  It is important to fix pastels too and Jane uses fixative even though this does turn colours fractionally darker. Even hairspray will work but it is not recommended.  Always hold the fixative at an angle of about 45 degrees to the paper to get an even distribution.  Jane scans her work so that she can sell prints as she is aware that people do not always have the money to buy an original but they do want to buy the picture. She also has her own cards made up and has used

Tonight’s picture is destined for her stall and it is going to be called “So Near So Far”. There will be a beautiful red strawberry on the top left of the picture when it is finished which he little rabbit just cannot reach. Jane will send us a photograph of the finished article in due course.  

At the end of the evening Jane encouraged people to take a closer look at her materials and her work.  She pointed out that the Daler Rowney Pastel Paper can be more textured than she might want for a smooth coated animal like a horse so she uses the other side of the paper which is less textured.  Everyone enjoyed and appreciated all the tips and explanations Jane gave and she said she was delighted with the amount of interaction she was getting from the audience.