‘Limited brushstrokes and palette portrait’
Friday 28th April 2023
This was the first face-to-face artist demonstration since the Coronavirus lockdowns. There was a large attendance with a full room of 24 people, some painting with Rebecca and some just watching.
Rebecca Le Tourneau has been teaching in Surrey Adult Education for 7 years which includes Mixed Media, Portrait Painting and beginners acrylics. She has a degree in Fine Arts and went straight into teaching as a secondary school teacher but changed to adult education quite quickly.
She handed out a step-by-step information sheet for this demonstration/workshop.
She says that she can paint a portrait either very quickly or take hours depending on her mood and how the painting is going. Usually she starts off very loose but can get into minor details and doesn’t always know when to stop. If she was doing a detailed portrait, she would use a pencil sketch with more accuracy. With a loose painting it’s not needed as much.
To paint looser, she uses a bigger brush and a limited colour palette with just 3 or 4 colours/tones. Tonight she will use Paynes Grey, Raw Umber, Pale Umber and a bit of White. You can use any colour as long as you use a dark, mid and light tone. (With more colours you have more decisions to make. By limiting the palette, you concentrate more on the brush strokes)
To start she painted the entire paper using a mixture of Paynes Grey and Raw Umber with a sponge. Ideally two coats would be preferable (and drying in between the two coats) but due to this being live, she is only using one coat. Try to get the paint laid down as flat as possible. DO NOT add any water to it.
She then drew the face with a fine paint brush and white paint. You can either draw it free hand or trace the image. When tracing ideally the image should be the same size as your paper/canvas.
She then blocked in a slightly paler background around the shape of the head in a few areas.
She started painting the dark colours then went onto the lighter ones. (Try to retain the dark areas in the portrait.)
After an hour she finished and said that she could go on and on and probably did about 250+ strokes in the end.
Rebecca mentioned that this is more of a learning task than a perfect portrait painting and people in the room were keen to respond to the idea as they painted along with her.
After the tea-break Rebecca demonstrated how effective limitations can be by producing a second portrait from this reference photo of a woman with intricate braids in her hair in under half an hour.
Rebecca was asked if she paints straight from the tubes of paint and she said that as soon as you start adding water, the paint becomes translucent and the pigment isn’t as strong. You can add a flow enhancer/improver to the paint to keep it open longer, but only need a little drop of it with the paint.
The paint she used is a mixture of Daler Rowney System 3 and Windsor & Newton Galleria.
Getting back into the studio for a live demonstration was evidently appreciated by all those who attended. It was good to feel a buzz of activity in the room and lots of friendly chatter and discourse.
With thanks to Patti Dutton for her write up and to Peter Tuitt for some of the photographs.