There was a very good turnout of around 35 people for the demonstration by Reading based artist Elizabeth Baldin. Elizabeth trained at Bristol Art College where she qualified with a BA Hons in Graphic Design. She worked as a book designer and then formed her own design company. Elizabeth has been exhibiting her paintings since 2007 and has worked in oils, acrylic and watercolours. Recently she has been painting more watercolours mixed with acrylic inks and is enjoying the vibrant colours and marks that come from using these two mediums together. For her demonstration she did two pictures of sweet peas using a combination of acrylic ink and watercolour.

Elizabeth had two photographs of a vase of sweet peas, one was in colour and the other was black and white. She noted that the black and white version emphasised the tones and helps you to see the areas of light and dark. In order to make an interesting picture it was often necessary to push the mid-tones one way or the other. She was not attempting to produce a detailed painting of the flowers and was trying to do a loose, quick, expressive picture to capture the essence of the sweet peas.

Elizabeth used cold pressed paper with a medium roughness and started with a very rough pencil sketch aimed at identifying the main areas and shapes in the composition. She believed that producing a detailed drawing inhibited her style and constrained her to a more realistic painting. You also needed to work with a reasonable sized piece of paper to allow you to work freely. The painting was then developed using the acrylic ink. This was applied using the pipette provided in the lid of the ink jar. The pipette allowed very little control in drawing with the ink which was then spread out using a wet brush to achieve the shape of the flowers. She noted that the ink dries very quickly and you can paint over with a layer of watercolour with confidence. The first picture, which was based on the black and white photograph, was then completed by adding watercolour.

While she was working she shared many interesting views about her work as an artist and things she had learnt as she developed her own style. An interesting comment was that when working on a piece of art the first 20 minutes were the most creative after which the left hand side of your brain takes over and the process becomes much more controlled. It was therefore useful to take regular breaks when painting and allow your brain to ‘reset’ and bring back the more creative side of your character.

For her second painting Elizabeth worked from the colour photograph. Again she started with a rough pencil sketch, but then used watercolour. The required colours were mixed on her palette at the start, so that she could work quickly moving from one colour to another and blending the colours on the paper as required. In this case the acrylic ink was added afterwards and used to highlight features on the flowers. Comparing the two paintings showed that in the first one the acrylic ink provided a definite structure to the painting and a stronger image, while the second one was much softer.

Elizabeth described how she would usually do a small 4” x 4” tonal sketch with colour added with watercolour. This would be used as the basis for developing a larger finished picture. She used photographs but recognised that these could only be used as a guide. A good photograph does not necessarily provide the basis for a good painting and the artist had to change things to make the painting work effectively.

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