Practice of Painting Course Work

I’ve been really looking forward to getting started with this course! I’ve just completed ‘Drawing Skills’ and found that in some cases I was painting more than drawing, but I guess that could be the natural progression of exploring with new mediums and techniques. I enjoyed using pastels recently and explored painting with them using water and baby lotion. It’ll be great to work through these exercises now as I have painted for many years and having worked through ‘Drawing Skills’ made me realise that I had become stuck in a rut. I’m hoping now to continue with what I have learned so far and to find new approaches and an open mind to painting.

Brushes and paints

An array of brushes ~ some of which are old and have had for years! We seem to get attached to our favourites and wear them out until the bristles have a mind of their own. They grow in character along with the water jars with residue of paint around the edges which become a work in them selves.

Part One ~ What paint can do

Project ~ Basic paint application

Exercise ~ Getting to know your brushes

So for this exercise I picked out as many different sizes and shapes of brushes from my pots as possible and chose a cheerful yellow. This was actually a fun exercise and even though I know the mark these brushes make it was good to consciously play around with the marks and to note the brush that created them. This will be a good reference point in the future. Some of the brushes became actual images just by the mark they left like the fan brush replicated the grass heads of grasses in a field.  Below are the pages from my A3 sketchbook with details noted of the brushes used.

POP _ Part 1 ~ getting to know your brushes 1

POP _ Part 1 ~ getting to know your brushes 2

POP _ Part 1 ~ getting to know your brushes 3

POP _ Part 1 ~ getting to know your brushes 4

POP _ Part 1 ~ getting to know your brushes 5

POP _ Part 1 ~ getting to know your brushes 6

This fan brush works really well to create seed heads of grasses and quickly drawn brush marks make movement.

Landscape from memory (A4)

Landscape from memory using some of the marks created on the previous exercises. This is a very pretty field of opium poppies near Henley in the summer. I used the round 1/2″ brush and a 1/2″ flat square brush to create these marks. I liked the spontaneous approach. The second painting I prefer the cooler colours as they look fresher. The stippled marks also make me think of Seurat’s paintings.

POP _ Part 1 ~ getting to know your brushes Landscape

Piece of fruit

I chose a banana because of the fun shape and tones of yellow. It was a challenge not to put in too much detail, how ever I enjoyed being free because of doing a simple painting while using 1/2″ round and flat square brushes. The light was coming in through the glass door behind the banana and so the shadow was in front and underneath the banana.

POP _ Part 1 ~ getting to know your brushes - fruit

Exercise ~ Applying Paint without brushes

For this exercise I started off by using the spatular and pallet knife. I’ve only painted a few times with a pallet knife and with this experimenting I’ve realised I like it! especially a certain part where the paint could resemble waves and water spray.

POP _ Part 1 ~ Applying paint without brushes 1

POP _ Part 1 ~ Applying paint without brushes 1 detail

I used a math protractor and ruler as well, anything I could try that wouldn’t be ruined.

POP _ Part 1 ~ Applying paint without brushes 2

Not intended to be a hand at first, but just happened while making marks with an emery board. Also used a wooden canvas stretcher.

POP _ Part 1 ~ Applying paint without brushes 3

Playing with a looped piece of wire and loose paint; cling film and bubble wrap worked well as well, Will be interesting to see how I can use these techniques in paintings.

POP _ Part 1 ~ Applying paint without brushes 4

More cling film scrunched into wet paint and then left to dry and peeled off before too dry and gets stuck!, Also finger tips and dabbing and moving my fingers quickly creates some lovely spontaneous marks.

Exercise ~ Painting with Pastels

Painting with Pastels

Here I drew with pastels using the edge and side then blended with water to create a delicate wash, although it looks a bit messy I like the looseness.


Pastels on coloured paper drawing and blending with my fingers first, then washing over with water then drawing over with finer lines, creates a nice depth. the ones to the side have been blended with baby oil, which was quite effective to blend and dilute the pastels.

Oil Pastels

Oil pastels drawn and blended in together, layering over and over to create a sgraffito affect, then I worked with blending using turps and baby oil.

POP _ Part 1 ~ Painting with pastels

Blending and painting with soft pastels with my fingers. I enjoyed using these colours and blending techniques inspired by a New Forrest artist called Pete Gilbert.


Project ~ Transparent and Opaque

Tonally Graded Washes

Firstly I tried out a strong crimson wash and then applied a yellow wash from the other end which blended well and the intense colours are good.

Transparent and opaque - Tonally graded washes 9 wet on wet

Transparent and opaque - Tonally graded washes 8 wet on wet

Transparent and opaque - Tonally graded washes 5 wet on wet

Trying out the graduated washes together, one colour first and then the other both wet together blend together well, however they appear to look muddy compared to the washes where the second wash layer (overlaying washes) has gone on top of the dried first layer of was. It looks fresher and more translucent. Introducing the Pthalo blue doesn’t look so great with the orange doesn’t look so great, however works well with the Pthalo layer dried and the pink/orange applied on top as they haven’t mixed and gone muddy. (see below).

Transparent and opaque - Tonally graded washes 4 wet on wet

Overlaying washes

The following are washes overlaid on the first dry wash. I do like these as the colours are clearer and translucent giving a fresher feel. I think there is more control in producing an affect with the translucent layers on top of the dry washes. I can imagine using these techniques in landscape painting to create a fore-ground, mid-ground and show some distance in the composition..

Transparent and opaque - Tonally graded washes 3 wet on dry
More of a translucent feel where the second layer stands away from the first layer.


Transparent and opaque - Tonally graded washes 6 wet on wet

Yellow wash on top of the crimson wash which was left to dry. The yellow looks more luminous on top of the crimson wash. You can see the quality of the colour layer in comparison to the other.

I’ve created some squares with the colours, the top row are wet washes done together and the bottom row are the first wash dried and the second wash on top.

Transparent and opaque - Tonally graded washes 1

I’m going to use these to create another wash overlay only on half of each so the difference can be seen.

Exercise ~ Opaque Colour Mixing

As in the exercise brief I mixed white in with the diluted colour washes  matching them as closely as possible; and played around with some mark making and patterns to see how the opaque colours would work. The Pthalo blue and pink/red worked well as an opaque colours over a few of the colours. The opaque yellow wasn’t as affective. Adding the white especially to my choice of colours makes them look pastel in tone and not just opaque. Both the graduated washes and opaque colours can be used together to create depth and pattern including varying tones to create an interesting painting.

Transparent and opaque - Opaques washes and detail 1

Transparent and opaque - Opaques washes and detail 3

Transparent and opaque - Opaques washes and detail 4

Transparent and opaque - Opaques washes and detail 2

I particularly like the two sheets above, the affect is very useful and I can see which ones I may use in the future. The way the washes show through the opaque tones with runs and movement in comparison to the opaques overlays is visually interesting.

Exercise ~ Monochrome studies

I chose to use Wedgewood grey as my light ground and Prussian blue for the dark colour. The dark colour goes on well to the light colour and is fairly easy to cover. The Wedgewood grey I diluted to go over the top of the dark ground which again went on fairly well and I liked the opaque nature of the paint. These techniques I can see working well in a landscape to depict perspective experimenting with foreground, mid ground and background. The background wash works well for atmosphere as well, it’s almost got a translucent look.

Transparent and opaque - Monochrome tree 2
Monochrome Study.
Transparent and opaque - Monochrome tree 1
Monochrome Study reverse colour.
Monochrome Study - negative space
Monochrome Study ~ painted negative space.

I’d realised after speaking with my tutor Ilsa that I had misunderstood the exercise and so I did this third version with the negative spaces painted in the light colour. It creates an interesting illusion of which layer is sitting in front and which was painted first.

Feeling inspired after this exercise for this first assignment to paint a landscape on a cold misty morning. Whilst driving early the other morning I noticed the low lying mist in the fields and the white haze surrounding the sun which was trying to burn through. These opaque and transparent exercises would work well to achieve the misty landscapes I saw. Will keep this in mind when I decide on my subject.

Exercise ~ Tonal study on white ground

For this exercise I selected an old book, decorative tin and a spotty jug (although I didn’t put in detail). Below are some of the sketches to explore the composition.

Tonal Studies Still life

Sketches for tonal studies

Sketches for tonal studies 2

I chose to work with earthy natural colours to add more interest, also compliments my chosen objects. For the tonal study on light ground I used cadmium yellow, white and a touch of crimson making a background wash, and I mixed a rich colour of burnt umber, crimson, white and cadmium yellow. I then used the same colours for the study on dark ground. I found the transparent washes worked well in both versions, perhaps more so with the light on dark ground tonal study. It was tricky at first to paint the light on dark ground as it was a case of reversing my mind to painting the highlights first to create the light areas and to really consciously leave parts of the dark background for the shadow areas of the painting.

Tonal Studies on light and dark ground
Tonal Studies on light and dark grounds ~ Acrylic washes.


Part Two ~ Close to Home

Project ~ Understanding Colour


Mixing Greys ~ Ana-chromatic Scale

Mixing the Mars Black and white gradually together to create a scale of greys was an interesting exercise, apart from being relaxing it was good to see how just a touch of either colour could change to a new tone. Finding the halfway grey was interesting as I did two scales and even though the mid grey turn out to be exactly the same. One of the mid greys looked light against the dark end of the scale in comparison and the other grey looked darker visually in comparison to the other mid grey when positioned by the lighter end. So the mid greys even the the same don’t look the same against other tones.

Mixing Greys Anachromatic scale

Ready for Primary, Secondary and Tertiary colour mixing. It’s been a long time since I’ve done exercises like this, consciously being aware of the primary colours and what can be achieved from them. I think over the years I’ve gotten used to creating palettes while I work. But having done these exercises it’s amazing to see how many colours and tones can be made, and the range is endless!

Primary & secondary col mixing 1
Mixing primary and secondary colours.
Primary and secondary colours 2
Primary colours and the start of Tertiary colours.

To make the purples and violet colours I added crimson and a touch of white. The blue and red mixed together were making muddy brown colours.

Broken or Tertiary Colours
Broken or Tertiary colours.

I love how these tertiary colours have evolved on the palette ever changing as different colours are added to make and endless range of colours. It’s amazing how many colours can be made from the primary colours and saves a fortune of buying ready made colours straight from the tube!. The only thin is you’d have to be ready to make a large amount of your created colour so you don’t get caught out and not be able to match it half way through. Keeping a not of the colours used in sketchbooks is a wise decision.

Exercise ~ Complimentary Colours

Complimentary Colours

This exercise was harder than I first thought it would be! I found that the colours in between the Red, Blue, Yellow and Green were tricky to make and I’d made them darker than they could be.

Complimentary colours chevreul

Here’s the exercise for creating twelve colours from Chevreul’s colour circle and then the opposite complimentary colours painting side by side. It appears to me that there is a pattern and the complimentary colours are a repeat of the chosen colours. Although this hasn’t been easy to do and I can see that they aren’t perfectly accurate if the repeat pattern is meant to be the case.


Project ~ Still Life

Exercise ~ Drawing in Paint

I didn’t have to look far to find objects around my home to draw that interest me. My bedroom is a very relaxing place and these items are the some of the first things I see in the morning. The scarf and beads draped over the wardrobe handles create a visually pleasing still life with the colour and soft textures of the scarf compared to the silver metal of the handles. The mirror also standing in the corner of my bedroom creates a good composition to reflect the space within my bedroom. These have been a subject before in the ‘Drawing Skills’ unit and my tutor at the time suggested they would be an interesting subject to do in colour. I’ve held on to these subjects thinking that I’d revisit in this painting course. The other object that interests me is the chandelier light hanging above my bed, also an item I see first thing in the morning and last thing at night. It’s often when I’m in a meditative state of mind relaxing before drifting off to sleep or waking up. The shadows created by the chandelier is interesting in the way it moves around depending on the light in the room at the time. I think they could make for interesting paintings. The items on a chest of drawers is a Buddha head and perfume bottle and a ‘flea market style’ book.

Drawing in Paint sketches A

Drawing in Paint sketches B

Buddha and Perfume
Buddha and Perfume sketch.
Scarves Still life
Scarves and beads on door handles ~ still life.

Drawing with Paint ~ scarf on door handle

This drawing with paint exercise i feel maybe I was painting more than drawing as I haven’t any evident outlines. I did draw with the paintbrush though using various marks and different brushes. Square brushes were very good for drawing the straight lines in the door panel detail.

Drawing with paint colours

Drawing with paint scarf and beads
Detail of the scarf and beads. Acrylic.
Drawing with PAint Scarf on door handles ~ detail
Detail of the scarf and door handle.


Exercise ~ still Life with Flowers

I was given these lovely lilies for Christmas and was very good timing for this exercise. I decided to use acrylic as I’m more confident with acrylics and wanted to paint a composition that is more painterly to be able to see brush stokes of colour layered side by side. I went straight in with a composition I liked by turning the vase around and painted it slightly off centre to show off the lily on the right. I found myself making up some of the colours I’d discovered in the Tertiary colour exercise, particularly the mauve which I used to paint the shadow. I love the shadow and find it just as interesting as the flowers them selves. The shapes created are almost abstract and give the painting some depth as well. I like the way the table has been cropped to make more of the vase and flowers composition. The glass I enjoyed trying to create reflection, shine and some of the distortion of the stems within the water. The texture of the textured paper I like also as it has helped the painting to be a bit more rugged. I chose an old brush as well to create a bristle texture.

Still Life with flowers final
Still Life with Flowers, Acrylic on textured paper A3.
Still Life with flowers
Initial drawing and washes and some of the under painting.
Still Life with flowers subject
Still life photo to work from if they died off.

Exercise ~ Still Life with Natural Objects

Still Life with Natural Objects sketches
Sketches for composition of still life with natural objects.
Still life with natural objects
Still Life with natural objects. A3 acrylic.

I decided to keep this exercise simple and paint these colourful peppers. Although ‘simple’ it was more of a challenge than I expected. The orange and yellow peppers haven’t come out as bright as I’d have liked but that could be due to the acrylics drying darker than when you first paint with them. I’m not sure I’ve progressed form the first still life as it is quite a different subject. It was interesting choosing the composition as once the peppers were cut in half I liked the stalk left on one of the halves and wanted this to be prominent. The insides are interesting to paint with the pale flesh in comparison to the brightness of the outer skin. I added white to the colour I used for the outsides to then paint the pale fleshy bit with the seeds. I added a touch of prussian blue and grey to the main pepper colours to create the deep inside of the pepper to show depth and highlight the seeds. I turned one of the halves the outside up to add a contrast to the smooth texture of the pepper in comparison to the inside. The background and shadows I feel I struggled with a bit, however I was trying to keep it slightly textured with colours from the subject and I used broken colours of neutral greys and greens for the shadows. The light source was above and slightly behind.


Project ~ Colour Relationships

Exercise ~ Exploring Contrasts

Colour Relationships ~ Exploring Contrasts
Exploring Contrasts exercise from sketchbook.

Firstly I chose bright orange for my colour ‘A’ as I think this is a good colour to experiment with other colours. Above are the range of colours I chose with notes. The orange is brighter and darker when next to the yellow and then lighter next to the deep red. The orange with the pale pink however almost becomes the same in terms of brightness. Then the orange placed in the middle of its’ complimentary colour of blue appears brighter and seems equal to the blue. They vibrate slightly too, firstly the orange comes forward and then the blue comes forward; they are equal in intensity. The lime green appears brighter when placed next to the pale pink compared to with sitting next to the grey. likewise the pale pink stands out brighter sitting inside the pale blue. The grey appears darker next to the lime green and then shows up lighter next to the dark blue and dark orange. The bright vivid complementary colours placed next to each other tend to vibrate.

This exercise really highlights the potential problems of colour while trying to paint a composition. Colours would have to be adjusted slightly depending on what colour they are going to be placed with even if they are the same overall colour being used. The hue can constantly change according to light and its juxtaposition with surrounding colours.

Exercise ~ successive Contrast

Successive contrast experiment
Experiment colours and result of seen secondary colour.

This was an interesting exercise, I tried four colour circles; red, purple, orange and blue and covered the other three up one at  time to see the results and I could actually see a tint of the complementary colour in a circle when I looked at the white paper.

“These effects are caused by the stimulation and exhaustion of colour receptors in the retina. By exhausting the receptors for red, for example, only the remaining combinations of colours that mix to produce blue green are seen when you turn from looking at red to looking at white. White light, as Newton showed, is made up from all the colours of the spectrum. The human eye has full colour discrimination through the rod and cone cells. The rod cells in the retina distinguish light and dark, while the three types of cone cells respond to red, green and blue- violet which make up all colours.” (Practice of Painting, OCA, 2017).


Exercise ~ Still life with colour used to evoke mood

My home seems to have many flowers in vases at the moment which is perfect for some of these exercises. I chose to paint this vase of off white roses to evoke mood as while they were on the book case and I was sitting there looking at them I found them relaxing and calming. The petals are an off white cream with a tinge of green and are very gentle and delicate in appearance. So I chose muted pale colours of pale green, pale blue and cream which are calming colours. I chose a soft haired brush as well to create a smooth and soft effect with the paint. I started with a mix of white and raw sienna to create a warm glow then layered other neutral, grey and cream tones on top. I kept the paint light and built up in layers of washes. I used white mixed into the colours to make lighter hues to create a light calm feeling to the subject. I wanted to create a light calming atmosphere in the painting. The petals I built up with cream mixed with cadmium yellow and white and a tiny touch of emerald green to make the green tinge. I asked my friend when the painting was finished what mood it evoked and she said ‘calming’ and light’, I’m happy with that!

sketches for Colour used to evoke mood
Sketch and colour planning for ‘Still life with colour to evoke mood’
Roses to evoke mood calming
‘Off White Roses’ Still life with colour to evoke mood.

Exercise ~ Still life with complimentary colours

This exercise was quite a challenge to work from the same subject but in a different colour palette. I chose to work with Red/purple (Alizarin) and it’s complimentary colour Chartreuse (a bright mid green) as I thought this would be good for the subject being roses. I created a mix of the green with emerald green and cadmium yellow, and alizarin mixed with red and I then mixed these with white to make lighter hues. I then mixed these lighter hues together to create the tertiary colour for the background and mid tones for the painting. I started the painting with the greens for the leaves and stems and the background colour of neutral cream with a tinge of the green and pink. The green at this stage was quite muted however when I started to introduce the pinks and Alizarin the green started to resonate with the purple and pink tones and became quite harsh. so I found throughout the rest of the painting I was trying to calm the green down by mixing the mixed purple into it to make it more dusky. This was a good exercise to work with colour tones again and how different hues react with each other. It was also good to get used to mixing more tertiary colours as well.

Still Life with complimentary colours B
Final painting with both the complimentary colours.
Still Life with complimentary colours C
First stage of the painting.
Still Life with complimentary colours palette
Colours mixed at the beginning of this exercise.
Still Life with complimentary colours sketchbook
Sketchbook page with colours.


Drawing and Painting Interiors

Quick Sketches around the house

Quick Sketches around the house A
Chest of drawers with buddha head by the door looking onto the landing.
Quick Sketches around the house B
1920s cabinet and part of my bed.
Quick Sketches around the house c
Free standing mirror with part of the bed in front.
Quick Sketches around the house D
My desk area with a very old directors chair and I spend quite a lot of my time here.

I think looking at the sketches the one with the most promising composition is the one with the cabinet or the chest of drawers with my favourite objects and the view onto the stair landing. The cabinet drawing and view looks interesting with the glass doors and the items inside it.

Exercise ~ Simple perspective in interior studies

I decided to draw the black cabinet view in my bedroom which is the focal point and chose to paint with black and grey tones as the cabinet is black. I think the top part of the cabinet is convincing, as the perspective is alright and the washed out black paint make the cabinet look dusted and clean. The glass sheen I think you can see that it is glass with personal items and clothing inside it on the glass shelves. The door frame I’m not very pleased with, perhaps I could have painted this more of a tone. the bed I like with one of the posts and the soft drape of the curtain. I liked working in this way; drawing with the paint and realise that an earlier exercise where I’d painted the scarves on the door handle I could have tackled more with this approach.

Simple perspective in interiors

Simple perspective in interiors detail bed


Simple perspective in interiors detail cabinet


Assignment 2 is on a separate page under menu, labeled ‘Assignments 1~5


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Henri Matisse at the Met: The Mindset behind the Masterpiece