Kristin Rawcliffe Oil Portrait Demo

Friday 13 August 2021

Kristin began by introducing herself. She is an artist who lives in Yateley. She is currently doing an MA in Fine Art at Reading University. She has exhibited in a variety of venues including the Mall Galleries ‘Best of British Art’ and ING Discerning Eye 2020.

This demonstration was going to be a challenge because Kristin will be working ‘alla prima’, Alla prima is an Italian phrase that means ‘at first attempt‘. It refers to a wet-on-wet approach whereby wet paint is applied to previous layers of still-wet paint, often in a single sitting.

She is going to be working on Arches oil paper. She likes to prepare the paper with a mixture of half and half turps and linseed oil to which she adds a tiny amount of black paint to create a pale grey base. She uses Jackson’s Shellsol T because it has no smell and is not expensive.

Kristin chose this photo reference for her demonstration because she knows from experience that artists find a semi profile difficult especially when the face is looking slightly down. She had laminated the reference photo so that she could demonstrate her thinking by drawing the lines on the photograph and then transposing them to the painting.

She begins by dividing the face looking at the ratios of facial features, hairline, nose, lips. She then marks in the basic outlines constantly checking the angles using her paintbrush to determine the line of the shadow on the face, for instance, before drawing it on to the page. This is called triangulation. She finds it a better method of painting a portrait while some artists prefer using the grid method.

This first stage can go wrong but it will be constantly checked and can be corrected when it comes to blocking in the colour. Kristin likes to outline the socket of the eye where she looks for the shadow shapes formed by the shape of the face. Remember the ear is located differently here because the face is tilted down. The bottom of the ear would usually align with the bottom of the nose but in this case, it is higher, from her eyebrow to halfway up her cheek.

The next stage was to block in working from dark cool to the lightest warm. Kristin uses a form of the Zorn Palette. The Zorn palette refers to a palette of colours attributed to the great Swedish artist, Anders Zorn (18 February 1860 – 22 August 1920). It consists of just four colours being yellow ochre, ivory black, vermilion and titanium white. Cadmium red light is commonly used in place of vermilion by modern day artists.

Kristin likes Indian yellow rather than yellow ochre. She will also be using ultra marine blue. Turquoise is another colour she really likes and so she has this colour on her palette too. The limited palette reduces the choices to be made to one of four tones. It is a good idea to develop what is around the face too as the background affects the painting. Black, ultra marine, yellow and white creates a dark turquoise blue that will make the background colour.

The paint brushes Kristin uses are square synthetic brushes that seem to work well on this Arches oil paper. The lightest areas are on her cheek, forehead, and the bridge of her nose. Next for her hair. To make the brown colour Kristin mixed black, red and Indian yellow. People often over think the hair. It is really a mass of tones so Kristin will paint it in blocks.

The model is wearing quite a lot of make-up and has very red lips. She used alizarin crimson darkened with a little blue for the bottom lip then adding some cadmium red to make it zing a little and white for the highlights on the top lip.

Using the same four tones Kristin returned to her shoulders and neck. It is a good idea to keep working on the whole painting. With oils the paint remains live for a few days. This would not be true if it were being painted in acrylics. If using acrylic paints, it can help to use a retardant.

After the break it was time to work on some of the details and for this Kristin uses smaller synthetic Scroll brushes. She begins by tackling the eye which is at a difficult angle to get the position of the pupil and iris. She softened the edges on the nose working dark into light and then painted the eye on the far side of the face. The philtrum under the nose should be hinted at rather than made too distinct.

Kristin finds that working on paper rather than canvas means the paint sinks in and can be easily blended. Hairlines are another area where it helps to avoid a strong line. When painting the ear, she paints the dark first then the light. She likes to name the shapes she sees. To her mind there is a Y in the upper part.

At this point Kristin began to review what she had painted, she added highlights in the hair, worked a little on the jaw line and brought the background down to the shoulder. She was not going to be able to finish the painting as the session was coming to a close, but it had been fascinating to watch how quickly she developed a portrait in oil over a period of just a couple of hours.

Kristin is going to be an Artist in Residence at a school next term, but she did say she may be running classes in the future too.

If you are interested in taking classes with Kristin, she can be contacted by email at

For more information, see her website.

She is also on Instagram.

This was the first Zoom demonstration that Frimley & Camberley Society of Arts has had where members were asked to make a £5 payment to attend. It was pleasing to have 26 people subscribe and the feedback from members has been very positive.


Annual Exhibition 2021


Studio Re-opening Friday 17th September 2021

From Friday 17th September, after a long enforced break due to Coronavirus, The Frimley & Camberley Society of Arts will meet again on Friday evenings at the Art Studio of Camberley Adult Education Centre, 10 France Hill Dr, Camberley GU15 3QB from 7.30 pm – 9.30 pm.


Watchmoor Park Nature Reserve Painting Day

On Saturday 19th June a little group of Frimley & Camberley Society of Arts members met at Watchmoor Park Nature Reserve, which is located just behind the Sainsbury’s petrol station off the Blackwater Valley Road, to paint and sketch together.

Unfortunately the weather was overcast but thankfully the rain held off and everyone enjoyed being out in the fresh air.

One of the best things about the morning was meeting up with each other again; it felt like old times.

Here are some photos to give a flavour of the event.



Prize Raffle 2021 – Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice

The Frimley & Camberley Society of Arts have once again made the Brush with Art Group at The Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice our nominated charity.

In 2019 we were able to raise £234 by holding a raffle at our Annual Exhibition. Unfortunately, due to Covid restrictions, we had to cancel all public events in 2020.

We are holding the FCSA Annual Exhibition on the 9th (evening reception, invitation only), 10th & 11th September (open to the general public, free entry) at High Cross Church, Knoll Road, Camberley, this year. We will once again be raising funds for the Brush with Art Group by running another raffle.

The prize will be a framed painting of Turf Hill, Lightwater, generously donated by Liz Seward, an FCSA member and a local professional artist.

We do hope that you are able to help us to support Phyllis Tuckwell by buying tickets, which will be available at our exhibition.


Heritage Gallery

The Museum and Heritage Gallery in Camberley Mall is open again and there is a new hang upstairs on the Frimley & Camberley display panels. 

The opening hours are 11.00 a.m. – 4.00 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. 

These photos do not do justice to the paintings. They should be seen up close so if you are in Camberley do take an opportunity to go and have a look.  They are upstairs in the room above the Museum displays.


Phil Biggs Watercolour Landscape Demo

Friday 7 May 2021
Finished watercolour painting of Seathwaite near Borrowdale, Cumbria by Phil Biggs

Phil Biggs began this Zoom demonstration by saying that he is a traditional landscape watercolourist. He went on to name some of the artists that have influenced him such as James Fletcher-Watson, Edward Seago and Ted Wesson as well as some American watercolourists such as Daniel Marshall.

As a traditional watercolourist Phil does not use masking fluid to maintain his whites. He enjoys plein air painting whenever possible. He lives near Spalding in Lincolnshire. This evening he has chosen to paint as scene of Seathwaite near Borrowdale in Cumbria. Phil has visited the Lake District often and he has painted this particular scene a number of times. He likes to begin with a small tonal sketch. He then transfers the sketch onto Arches 300 lb rough paper. He uses Half Imperial which converts to 22 x 15 inches. He uses Winsor & Newton Artists Watercolours from tubes that he squeezes out into his Craig Young artists’ palette (

Phil’s paint brushes are mainly sable. He also has 3 squirrel brushes and at times he uses a synthetic brush to paint tree branches and fence posts because it gives a strong line. To start he used a squirrel brush to wet the sky area leaving some little dry patches. He already knows he wants the dark clouds at the edges to hold the painting together. The sky is vital and where a painting can often go wrong. He is going to use French Ultra Marine; Burnt Umber and Paynes Grey. A piece of good advice, always put the blue French Ultra Marine in first then mix in the other paints or you find yourself using a lot of the blue to produce the desired grey.

After putting in some dark grey clouds and then some lighter grey ones, Phil used a little Raw Sienna to put under the storm clouds. He also dropped in a patch of pure blue for the break in the clouds. A little Indian Red added to the grey can warms the colour up a little.

Next Phil went over the rest of the painting, except the buildings, with a pale yellowish wash to take the white off the paper. He cleans his palette often. Once the yellow wash was dry, Phil began to mix the colour for the hills in the background. He mixes all his green from yellows. For the distant hills he uses Cobalt Blue and Bright Red. Going very carefully around the chimneys of the buildings he admits is when masking fluid would make things easier.

Once the middle-distance hills were in Phil turned his attention to the mountains on the right side and the mists forming between them. He used French Ultra Marine and Indian Red for the dark mountain top and Burnt Umber, Raw Sienna and Winsor Blue Red Shade for the olive yellow below.

Watercolourists have to develop a real understanding of the ratio of paint to water to avoid runbacks and to maintain the clean paper for the mists. After drying the paint again, Phil began to put in the trees and the whitewashed houses of the village of Seathwaite.

To paint trees, he finds painting with the brush on its side works well. He varies the shade of the trees by adding Raw Umber and Indian Red to the mix of Burnt Umber and Winsor Blue. Indian Red and Winsor Blue produces a nice light grey for the slate of the houses’ roofs.

It was time to work on the focus of the painting, the house near the centre. Phil mixes a wash of Raw Sienna, Winsor Blue and a touch of Cadmium Yellow for the foreground. Always put darkest colours
again the lightest ones. He turned the paper upside down to be able to paint around the chimney carefully. Best not to have the branches of the tree appear to be coming out of the chimney of the house.

After painting the house and the barn’s roof and putting in the windows to the buildings he worked on the shadows on the buildings. This is often what makes the sun appear to come out. He uses French Ultra Marine and Light Red for the shadows on the whitewashed houses, the same colours for snow shadows. He starts with the shadows on the chimneys first then porch and the barn. Windows need a tiny brush and a very dark colour.

After painting in the stone walls around the house and putting in some bushes and flowers there too it was time to deal with the foreground where there will be cloud shadows. First Phil mixed Cadmium Yellow, Raw Sienna and Burnt Umber for the fence that will draw the viewer’s eye into the painting.

To paint the tree in the foreground he uses Paynes Grey and Burnt Umber adding some blue to make the foliage a darker green. Now it is time to balance the painting with some dark cloud shadows so that there is not one big slab of green across the front. He uses Burnt Umber, Winsor Blue and Cadmium Yellow to create the green shade.

The painting is almost finished. All it needs now is fence posts and another hedge on the left side. Using a squirrel brush, he mixes a variety of deep greens and very quickly paints in an impression of a fence, recalling how Ted Wesson might have done it like this. A mount around the finished painting set it off beautifully.

This brought another very successful Zoom demonstration to an end. There were 32 participants, and everyone agreed that there were some definite advantages to demonstrations on Zoom, particularly being able to see the palette and the artist mixing the paints clearly. The session was recorded and Phil has offered to give FCSA the finished painting in due course. Our thanks to him for an enthralling evening.


Rebecca Le Tourneau Zoom Scribble Drawing Workshop

Friday 16th April 2021

Rebecca Le Tourneau was invited to give this Zoom Drawing Workshop by Lesley Kilner, who has been taking her Adult Education Acrylics course. Rebecca is a fully qualified art teacher with 14 years’ experience of teaching both children and adults at Surrey Education Learning.  

This was the first time FCSA had tried to use Zoom for an art workshop, and it was wonderful to see 29 participants which included two new members and a visitor.  

Rebecca began by accepting that two hours is a relatively short period of time for a drawing workshop as some drawings can take many hours. However, she thinks scribble is an interesting method of drawing and it lends itself to being done quickly. Rebecca had sent out examples of her scribble drawings and reference photos to the participants prior to Friday evening. 

Rebecca provided some prompt words that might help to encourage people to try all sorts of different marks and scribbles using biro, liners or even marker pens to provide colour. The prompt words:  Dense/Sparse; Dark/Light; Thick/Thin, Tiny/Large; Erratic/Controlled; Over & Over; Layered; Scrawled; Loopy; Scattered; Interrupted; Jagged. 

Rebecca then began drawing a little dog over the top of some of her of scribble marks while she encouraged us to have a go at producing a scribble drawing using either the reference material or our own images.

There are some fun things to do with a series of scribble drawings, such as creating a collage of them as seen here.


Another idea is to make a little book of scribble drawings such as this. Follow this link to see how to create one of these books from an A4 sheet of paper.

Rebecca has created a Pinterest board as Pinterest lends itself well to collecting ideas and examples. As can be seen on the board are a number of famous artists who have used this technique including CY Twombly, Sally Muir and Susan Siegel, Alberto Giacometti and Adam Riches. Henry Moore used it to draw these scribble hands.

One advantage of a Zoom workshop was that Rebecca was able to show everyone a video of Adam Riches on YouTube. Adam Riches is a young artist who uses pen and ink to create striking portraits. 

Inspired by what we had been shown everyone was encouraged to have another go. Rebecca would be demonstrating at the same time. She was going to use the reference photo of the lemur and she suggested that this might make a good choice of picture for this technique.

Towards the end of the evening Rebecca showed us the drawing she had made of the little blue bird from her photo reference material. She had done this on a piece of tracing paper and she pointed out that she had then cross hatched the background on the back of the tracing paper, which produced a different look and texture to that of the bird.

A number of the participants took up Rebecca’s recommendation and when she asked how people were doing, they were happy to hold up their work for people to see. These are just a few of the screen grabs that were taken from the screen.

At the end of the workshop a number of people expressed their thanks and appreciation for a really fascinating and inspiring workshop. Of course, everyone looks forward to the time when we will be able to meet together again but during these Coronavirus days the Zoom Workshop worked well. Thank you to Rebecca for a very enjoyable evening.

Write up by Carole Head



The date for the FCSA Annual Exhibition has been changed from July to the second weekend in September. The Exhibition will take place on FRIDAY 10th & SATURDAY 11th SEPTEMBER 2021 at High Cross Church, Camberley. The Evening Reception will be on Thursday 9th September.