Australian Fine Artist

Craig Penny

Topic: Landscape in Acrylics

Venue: McClelland Guild of Artists

McClelland had the pleasure of seeing Craig produce one of his landscapes in acrylics for their last demonstration for the year. Craig arrived with tubs rather than lots of tubes of acrylics (although he had some of those as well). He works on a fairly large scale so buying tubs is a much more economic way of buying paints.

I noticed as he put it on, his protective apron was stiff as a board from wiping his paints on as he works. I personally have towels handy at my workstations for the same purpose as I don’t want to get into the habit of wiping paint on myself just in case one day I am not wearing the apron! If you work in oils I especially wouldn’t recommend using this idea.

Craig also had business cards and an A3 folder of prints of his works. Showing your works and having cards handy is always a good idea. People may not be able to purchase on the day, but may want to at a later stage. Prospective clients may also not know that you do more subjects than you are demonstrating on the day.

Craig’s paints were mostly Matisse with some Golden acrylics which are more expensive but give a very nice effect and are lovely to use. The paper being used was Arches 360gsm water colour. The paper had been painted on before so had been sanded and re gessoed for a new work. It was stretched and stapled to a board and had masking tape around it to show where the image area would be. Craig does use canvasses as well and prefers to get them made up to order. If buying them he stressed to check that they are square and not over bleached by looking at the backs. Something that I do now if buying them which gets strange looks from other customers in shops. I am more recently making up my own canvasses and enjoying have more control over that area or producing a painting.

The subject was from a photograph of an old rural property near Hamilton. This was only used as a guide and not to be faithfully reproduced with every detail. Sometimes what looks like a poor photo can be used as inspiration for a very good painting if you are willing to use your artistic licence and imagination.

Craig used large flat brushes to quickly get the surface covered. He started with the sky and then painted in the buildings over the top. He briefly covered two point perspective to explain how he puts in his buildings and gets them looking correct.

By using a couple of tubs of clean water, which he changed regularly Craig used the paints straight out of the tubs with minimal mixing on a palette. He explained that the small amount that stays in the tubs of paint usually only created more interest when he used that colour again. He also has a test area around a painting so can swipe off anything he doesn’t want from a brush.

By using large brushes Craig was able to get a lot down very quickly, and his more impressionistic style lends itself to broad areas of colour and texture rather than small detail. Using a rigger brush impressions of weatherboards, wires, highlights, shadows and grass were able to be quickly and lightly put into the painting. Scratching back with the back end of a brush to reveal the colour underneath was a method to show long grass in the foreground before going back in with dabs of warms and cools to create interest.

The whole painting was completed within the time allotted for the demonstration. Apart from making a demonstration better, setting a time limit to complete a painting or drawing can be a great idea. It helps you to get straight into thinking about what you need to do in an efficient manner. No fiddling and no overworking.

Here are a few of ideas for small tasks you can set for yourself in your own studio. I have tried these recently and they do help you to produce some amazing results.

  1. Set yourself a drawing or painting to complete and make a time limit to get it completed.
  2. Select a very limited palette such as the three primaries and white.
  3. Try selecting a limited palette of three or four other colours. Try a crimson red instead of a warm primary red, or a more purplish blue or a paler or stronger yellow.
  4. Try painting with just white and a black you have mixed yourself. The black can then be either a little warm or cool depending on what colours you use to create it.
  5. Select only 2 brushes to use for an entire painting. Try different combinations to see which ones work best.
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