solent art society news and events

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Summer Term 2024

Hampshire Open Studios 2024

This summer the Society will once again be exhibiting as part of this event, from 17th August through to 26th August. Open 10.00am to 5.00pm daily.

We are Venue 280 at the British Legion Shop, 155-157 High Street, Lee-on-the-Solent PO13 9BX.

We would love to see you there.

Sketching Evening

On Wednesday 26th June, some of our Society members enjoyed a sketching evening in Wendy and Graham's lovely garden in Fareham. Our thanks to them for a delightful evening and delicious refreshments.

Mark Jackman demo - Handmade watercolour paints

On 5th June, the Club enjoyed an entertaining and informative talk by Mark Jackman of Jackman's Materials, who are the only makers of hand-made watercolour paints in the UK. Mark talked to us about the various components of watercolour paint, being gum arabic, water, humectant preservative and pigment. He explained how they are used in the making of paint and demonstrated the process. He brought a large array of paints in various hues for us to try and purchase.

It was a fun evening and well attended by our club members and some visitors.

Spring Term 2024

Will Dyke - Printmaker

On the 6th March 2024, Chichester based printmaker Will Dyke gave us an interesting talk on the history of printmaking. He gave us a power point introduction to medieval woodcut printmaking from the 15Century, medieval woodcut herbals, historical textile printing and the more recent works of the artist John Craxton.

He followed up with a demonstration of lino cutting.

His own work is inspired by rural life and history and he demonstrated in the time available, a basic lino cut of a cat using two colours. Will runs courses and workshops in and around Chichester and can also be found at the Durleighmarsh Farm complex near Petersfield. He is also a regular tutor at the Weald and Downland Museum.

Autumn Term 2023

"Capturing Light" - Catherine Beale

On 22nd November, Catherine travelled up from Bath to give us a demonstration on light filled watercolour painting. Using a wet-in-wet, gravity painting technique on watercolour artboard and having mapped out a plan for the painting, Catherine took us through the various stages of applying strong, saturating tube colours against subtle background colours to create her painting. The pigments were left to flow and mingle on the board to create interesting marks.

"Why purple isn't real" - A talk and Power Point presentation with Nick Hill.

On the 4th October, one of our Society members, Nick Hill gave us a fascinating talk on "how we see colour and its impact on colour perception". He took us through from early C17 light experiments by Sir Isaac Newton, past the Munsell Colour System created by Albert Munsell and to Josef Albers, the abstract artist and his "interaction of colours". On to more modern times and the Quiller wheel developed by Stephen Quiller, subtractive colour mixing and to what happens when we mix our own colour pigments.

A really interesting and informative evening. Thank you Nick, mixing paint will never be the same again.

Summer Term 2023

Hampshire Open Studios - 2023

Another very successful Open Studios event for the Society was held, by kind permission, at our usual venue at the British Legion shop in Lee on the Solent. We had 1202 visitors over the ten-day period, and many left lovely and encouraging comments about our artwork and crafts.

Julie King – demonstration in watercolour

In June 2023 we held a zoom demonstration evening with Kent based artist Julie King. Julie specialises in watercolour paintings of flowers and landscapes and took us through the various stages of painting roses from her garden, in translucent watercolours. Julie contributes regularly to Leisure Painter magazine and has written several books.

A very enjoyable and informative evening.

Mark Warner - demonstration in acrylics

In May 2023, we enjoyed a demonstration by Mark of a seascape using acrylics. Mark was very generous with information about his techniques and his materials. He often works from photographic reference and paints regularly en plein air.

Spring Term 2023

Heather Joliffe - demonstration in acrylics

Heather visited us in February 2023 and primarily paints coastal scenes in watercolours and acrylics. Her paintings are known for being filled with colour, light and shade.

Heather uses a limited palette and prefers to use hogs hair brushes and silicon palette knives. This was a very insightful evening and many of the members went on to join Heather in a workshop later in the term.

Harry Venning - demonstration of cartoons

In March 2023 we were treated to something different - a visit from Harry Vennng, a cartoonist, illusttator and comedy writer. He is a weekly contributor to The Guardian and has appeared in publications world wide.

As you can imagine, Harry's demo was full of anecdotes and we got involved in designing our own comic strip.

Barbara Bromley-Jones - member demonstration

Barbara, one of our members guided us through an exercise using watercolour, acrylics and acrylic inks applied to very wet paper over the top of household items such as feathers, twine, dried leaves, salt etc. The paintings were left to dry covered in cling film and then enhanced using more paint.

Autumn Term 2022

Paul Oakley

In October 2022, as part of the theme of 'Autumn/Decay' we enjoyed an oil painting demonstration from Paul. He arrived with a pre-prepared canvas covered with a distressed mid-tone ground of oil paint plus salt and water splatters. He then used a fairly limited palette and used many layers of oils to build up his painting.

Lindsey Cole – workshop in acrylics

In October 2022, we were fortunate to have a full-day workshop from artist Lindsey Cole. She led the group throughout the day, showing us her unique style. We all enjoyed experimenting with acrylics, inks, watercolours and textures.

Spring and Summer Terms 2022

Life drawing sessions

In January and March 2022, as part of the theme of 'human forms', we were lucky enough to be visited by an experienced life model. We were guided through attempting to capture various poses by our resident professional artist.

Stewart Beckett – demonstration in oils

In February 2022, again on the there for the term of 'human forms', Stewart Beckett demonstrated a life painting in oils.

Stewart starts by drawing from observation, without the use of grid lines. He uses dividers to ensure the proportions and scale are correct. In the second image, Stewart tries not to overwork a painting, and lets his brushstrokes show. Initially blocking in and later he finesses his earlier marks using smaller, softer marks.

In the third image, Stewart uses the 'Ila Prima' method of completing a painting in one session, rather than waiting for earlier layers of paint to dry and then glazing over the top. Finally, the painting at the end of the demonstration (fourth image). Stewart says it still needs a little more work back in his studio. The members thoroughly enjoyed this demonstration.

Paul Alcock – demonstration in oils

In May 2022, Paul travelled to us from his home in Essex, to demonstrate in oils, based on the terms' theme of 'urban'. He demonstrated a night scene based on the view of Felixstowe Harbour that he had to paint in the semi-finals of Landscape Artist of the Year in the summer of 2018.

Paul was a very entertaining demonstrator and everyone enjoyed the evening immensely.

Autumn Term 2021

Ros Clarke – digital art demonstration

In October 2021, as part of the theme of 'new beginnings', we enjoyed a demonstration from one of our members, Ros Clarke. The subject was digital art in general and specifically the use of the 'sketchbook' and 'procreate' apps on tablets to produce digital artwork. As this is a totally new approach to art for most of the members, Ros started from first principles and the group attempted to follow Ros's directions on their own tablets.

We learnt about 'copyright-free' websites, and producing digital art images which can be printed onto fabrics or wallpaper, alongside the main purpose of the demonstration which was to give us the confidence to start to experiment with digital art apps. It was a fun evening and everyone seemed to go away inspired to experiment!

Ian Withall – painting with acrylics demonstration

In November 2021, we enjoyed a talk about painting in acrylics by another of our members, Ian Withall.

Ian often paints on a large scale and generously shared with us many of his tips and techniques. These Included suggestions about the choice of paints and brushes, the use of apps to add a grid to a photographic image, ideas for future subjects and the inspiration behind some of his completed works. Again, thiswas very well received by the audience.

Elaine Reed – Colour mixing in watercolour demonstration

In December, Elaine Reed led a workshop on colour mixing, where Elaine explained the colour wheel, complimentary colours and a colour bias wheel, which Elaine prefers to use as reference in her own paintings. We learnt about how to 'darken down' colours using either complimentary colours or harmonizing colours and the different results which each produced. We all used this information to paint our own colour charts of the resultant colour mixes.

We also received some general guidance about shadow colours in general and mixing of the purest secondary colours and the whole evening was enjoyable and very informative.

Summer Term 2021

Vicki Norman Demonstration

In April, we enjoyed an oil painting demonstration by Vicki Norman on zoom which was well received by the members. Vicki used light and colour in the landscape as the subject for her demonstration and painted a Shropshire landscape. She considers that one of the keys to improving our paintings is to learn to see and to observe colour better. She always mixes her colours first from a fairly limited palette, bearing in mind that in the distance of a scene, colours appear greyer and with less contrast and in the foreground, colours appear darker and with more contrast.

See photos: Vicki Norman

Catherine Beale Demonstration

In February, we enjoyed a watercolour demonstration by Catherine Beale on zoom which was well attended by the members. Catherine used her 'gravity painting' technique to produce a wonderfully colourful and atmospheric painting from a street scene in Bath. Catherine works with her watercolour board held at an angle, to encourage the very watery first washes to run down (or up) the paper. Towards the latter stages of a painting, Catherine often uses 100% pigment taken straight from the tube and so variation in water content of the paint applied is a key feature of her work. She often uses transparent or granulating pigments, a limited palette and plans her work so that the focal point is where the darkest darks meet the lightest lights. The results achieved are spectacular.

Summer Term 2019

Melanie Cambridge Demo

Melanie Cambridge led a very interesting session on sketching horses, with full audience participation in 'having a go' ourselves.

She started by showing us how to construct a framework for a side view of a horse's head, using either a boundary framework of straight lines, or built around 2 circles; some find one method more natural, some the other. After we'd made our first attempts, she then made it more challenging by demonstrating how to sketch a three–quarters view of the head, using a kite shape across the head and a box at the nose. Finally, she upped the ante again by showing us how to combine various shapes to depict a horse's full body, and challenged us to sketch two of them at full gallop. This proved a lot easier than we might have expected at the start of the evening, using the processes we’d learnt.

Finally, she concluded the evening by illustrating the process of adding colour using oil pastels, and then blending these with thinners.

Dave White Demo

As the theme for the summer term was animals, we were treated to an excellent acrylic demonstration on painting horses and dogs from Dave White. Dave generally starts with painting the background and continues by marking out the subject in chalk. The first painting he showed us was of a rural scene with horses, in which he had already painted the background field, tree line and sky and had drawn the horses in chalk. He then proceeded to show us how he would start painting the horses.

Dave next showed us a dog painting of 'Lottie' that he had started and talked to us about how he marked out the important structures that form the head shape with chalk. He then moved on to another dog painting to show us how to paint the tricky bits ... the eyes and the nose, which he always paints last! He gave us some very useful tips on painting the eyes and nose and showed us how it would bring the whole painting to life. This demonstration was very informative and enjoyable and we all learnt a lot from Dave.

Sketching Evening at Titchfield Abbey

During the summer term we visited Titchfield Abbey for our sketching evening. After an informative introduction by one of the representatives, we familiarised ourselves with the building and chose our preferred viewpoint. The weather was in our favour and we had an enjoyable time soaking up the evening sun and sketching the details that interested us, from the gatehouse to the tile pavement, in various media including pencil, ink and watercolours. We are grateful to English Heritage for their help with arranging this wonderful opportunity for us.

Spring Term 2019

Lucie Cookson Demo

During the Spring Term we had a visit from Lucie Cookson who explained and demonstrated sight-size drawing to us. It is a way of drawing that has been influenced by the methods of Rembrandt. It refers to a method in which the artist makes a drawing the same height as the subject being viewed, and allows the artist to see their subject and drawing side by side with both appearing the same size. By doing this, the artist is able to make very objective comparisons of shape and proportions.

Lucie used Strathmore charcoal paper, willow charcoal and nitram charcoal to draw a portrait of Richard. Having marked her standing position on the floor she used a plumb line to establish the basic proportions of the sitter, the top of the head and the bottom of the chin. Lucie then used a piece of string between her thumbs to measure the width of the head. Once the head shape was drawn, she started to put in the shadow shapes, both cast and form. Next she placed a dot for the pupils, then marked out the eyes, eyebrows, ears and mouth. Finally she measured the shoulder width again using the string method.

Having drawn in all of the features, Lucie continued to refine and adjust the outline and shadows and then introduced chalk to build in the tone.

It was fascinating to watch this method of drawing, and we all learned a lot from Lucie and really enjoyed her informative and enthusiastic way of demonstrating.

Autumn Term 2018

Oliver Pyle Demo and Workshop

Oliver Pyle gave us a very comprehensive demonstration on painting reflections of trees in water. He suggested that we break a painting down into layers using a limited palette and letting the paint flow. He painted the subject first and then added the reflections in afterwards, putting less detail into the reflections. He stressed the importance of planning the washes and that the time NOT painting is as important as the painting itself. Oliver gave us some tips to help us on our way.

  • Paint wet and let it flow
  • Execute the washes with minimal brushwork
  • Observe the subject and understand the water ... think about the depth, the view point and the surface
  • For complex reflections break them down into layers, and use glazing techniques
  • Develop a 'ripple' brushstroke
  • Practise 'wet into wet' techniques to understand the timing of when to work your washes and when to leave them alone

The demonstration was very interesting, informative and enjoyed by all.

This demonstration was followed by a workshop given by Oliver. The subject this time was the harbour at Bosham and some very satisfying work was produced using the techniques Oliver had shown us.

Dee Cowell Demo

During the Autumn Term we also had a watercolour demonstration from Dee Cowell. She entertained us with her colourful paintings and flamboyant style. Dee usually paints wit the three primary colours and uses a large oval brush, a hake, a swordliner and a comb brush. She started with a three colour wash and then proceeded to add detail to paint a landscape. Dee emphasised that it was important to let the joy of painting show in your work.

Dee completed two further paintings during the evening, the subjects being flowers and elephants. Again she painted with enthusiasm, mixing her colours on the paper.

Summer Term 2018

10th Anniversary Celebration

To finish the Summer Term and to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Solent Art Society, we met together for an evening at "Made by Me' in Lee on the Solent. We each chose a piece of pottery and decorated it in our chosen style and colours. It was a very enjoyable experience and one that was a first for many of the members, and we produced some very pleasing results. The evening concluded with a buffet and a celebratory cake.

Spring Term 2018

Debbi Hyde Workshops

During the Spring Term we had the pleasure of Debbi Hyde visiting our group to lead three tutored sessions with the theme of seasons, atmosphere and weather. In her introduction she explained about colour theory and how the use of cool or warm colours can create different moods. She also spoke about the interaction of colours and how they can be harmonious or complementary.

Debbi asked us to bring a variety of surfaces such as canvas, watercolour paper or mount board to work on, and for them to be a range of sizes. She also encouraged us to use a wide range of implements to create our underpaintings, including brushes, feathers, sponges, card and a water spray. Debbi enthusiastically demonstrated different ways of creating an abstract underpainting by being very free in her use of mark making and using bold colours, with lots of spraying and letting the paint do it’s own thing. Then it was our turn to have a go!

The second session built on what we had learnt during the first one and again we were encouraged to experiment freely. It was also a time to look at our previous efforts and to try to interpret them to see if they suggested how they could be completed.

For our third session with Debbie Hyde, we were again encouraged to work very loosely but still with abstract in mind, and working on different sizes of papers ranging from miniature to A3. It was an exciting and challenging process, especially for those who were used to the confines of watercolour, but the whole group produced some lovely pieces of work.

Autumn Term 2017

Ali Lindley Demo

Ali made a welcome return visit to walk us through the process she follows in generating a still life painting.

She strongly recommended limiting our palettes to 3 or 4 colours per painting, after first playing with combinations of these to make sure we can generate all of the required secondaries, together with those strong darks which are so essential to generating impact in the finished work.

She uses hot press paper. Her first step is to texturize the surface with a palette knife loaded with texture medium and / or acrylic gouache, possibly mixed with paint. This can be enhanced by the use of e.g. string, collage, charcoal scrapings and perhaps some gold paint.

Once the textured base is dry, the work continues with broad sweeping strokes of colour, without at this stage necessarily having a finished arrangement in mind, and by pushing the paint around with fingers, sponges, brushes or whatever comes to hand. She then stands back, turning the painting around, or viewing small portions of it, as necessary, to allow shapes and patterns to emerge.

These shapes are then developed with more traditional brushwork, to bring them out. Often she achieves this by painting the negative shapes around them, as with the purple in the example. She also then adds sweeping lines to give form to the subjects, as for the spider plant, and to connect areas of the painting together. Finally, it is a question of standing back, perhaps with different shapes and sizes of mounts, to identify areas in need of minor further development, before arriving at that trickiest of judgements, deciding when it is finished.

Overall, this was a particularly instructive and enjoyable session, as well as producing an impressive result, and we look forward to trying out her techniques for ourselves.

Our theme for the Autumn Term was still life. Following on from the excellent demonstrations by Lindsey Cole and Ali Lindley, we produced a wide range of paintings of various subjects in response to the teaching.

Lindsey Cole Demo

Lindsey came to visit us in September, to do a demonstration of a still life work in acrylics, based on the rather unusual subject of some fish on ice. She began by spending some time describing her preparation process, including some useful tips:

  • It helps to get overall proportions right if you first surround your subject with a simple shape, eg a triangle in this instance, and then draw within it.
  • Using cheap materials such as wallpaper lining paper really helps to both speed up and loosen up your painting. The results can be interesting in themselves, and can often be traced onto the prepared surface.
  • It is useful to keep colour notes on the sketch.
  • She uses mdf, covered with gesso (or, more cheaply, matt white acrylic). The brushmarks in the gesso then add interest to the final result.
  • Her initial wash was spattered with clean water, to add further texture.
  • Her initial wash was spattered with clean water, to add further texture.
  • A (very!) little pink, or strongly complementary colour, really lifts a painting.
  • Finally, she surprised us all by applying copper flakes using a Pritt stick!

Overall, a very enjoyable and instructive evening.

Patchings Art Festival, Art Club of the Year – Solent Art Society shortlisted!

This year we entered the annual national competition for art clubs in association with this major art fair, held just north of Nottingham. Applicants had to submit 5 works by different club members, and we were pleased to be selected as one of the final 10 clubs. This is a significant tribute to the quality of work carried out by all of our members. Our paintings were therefore duly shipped and displayed, where we think they held their own among some strong competition. We did not unfortunately win the overall prize, but it was an interesting venture to have tried.

Summer Party 2017

This was again held at Steve and Ros’ house, and we again enjoyed a lovely, if somewhat breezy, summer evening. Sausages from Phil's in Lee went down well with a generous american supper provided by all members, and the gazebo loaned by Spike and Barb and their neighbours kept the chill off beautifully later in the evening. Altogether a very pleasant evening to round of the year.

Kew Gardens Trip

A minibus-full of us visited Kew Gardens in June. There was a lot to see, in fact so much that most of us spent gathered photographic reference material rather than sketching. A most pleasant day out.

Joel Waring Demo

Joel gave us a followup demonstration in acrylics, starting from a busy photo, with plenty of figures, and progressing to a well-developed painting by the end of the evening. Like Heather (see below), he primes his canvas himself. The work then begins with cool colours, plotting out the broad layout of the piece, and using a large hog brush to avoid being tempted into detail. Warm colours are then added in to complete this first layer, a semi-abstract pattern at this point.

He then uses charcoal to block in key shapes, fixing it to prevent blending into the later layers. Acrylic retarder slows the drying process, and also increases transparency.

Overall, he aims to paint light areas in one-pass impasto, but use multiple layers in dark areas to generate a sheen. Light colours and white are added at this stage. It is important to avoid isolated patches of a colour, for unity's sake, so he always looks for other spots where he can include the current mix, while he has it loaded on the brush.

Summer Term News 2017

Portraits workshop with Sue Rubira – April '17

As a fitting finale to our Spring Term’s work on the theme of portraits, Sue led us in a Saturday workshop on producing portraits of children in motion in powdered charcoal. This was very much a new medium to most of us, so she started right at the beginning, showing us how to make a 'pounce bag' to apply the charcoal. Then it was on to a demonstration, on a large sheet of paper. The first step was laying in the broad outlines, trying to get the overall proportions roughly right. Then it was onto the process on increasing the strengths of the darker tones, and picking out highlights with putty rubbers. The great advantage of the medium is that it is so much more forgiving than watercolour for portraiture. Even quite significant adjustments can be made quite late in the day, to improve the likeness. Some very satisfying work was produced, as can be seen from the attached photos.

Landscape Demo in Acrylics by Heather Jolliffe

Heather gave us a good start to our summer term’s work on the theme of 'Place', by demonstrating how she worked up a very impressive painting from what was a fairly ordinary photograph. (Most of us find this process works the other way round). She was using acrylics, not a medium most of us are familiar with, so started by showing how she made her own stay-wet palettes, using damp kitchen towels under parchment or baking paper, in a shallow box with a lid. She also primes her paper using acrylic primer. Then it was on to blocking in the main areas with a hog brush. She doesn't normally dilute her paints with water, in order to have more blending time. The brush can be used sideways for scumbling etc, as in watercolour, and fingers make excellent built-in tools for softening edges. Nylon brushes can then be used to complete the detail. A key difference from watercolour is that acrylic paint dries darker in first appears, whereas the opposite is true of watercolour. Overall, a very impressive and enjoyable introduction to acrylics.

Winter Term News 2017

Workshops 2 and 3 with Stewart Beckett – February and March

We have now welcomed Stewart back on two further occasions, to give us guidance on adding colour to the outlines developed during the first session. Starting with an underpainting of yellow ochre for the face, with highlights lifted out, he went on to show us how to control the spread of stronger-toned paint by pre-wetting the required area with clean water, to avoid undue spread, and to prevent hard edges. He can be seen using this two-brush approach in the photo. Having demonstrated the technique, he then went around the class offering very helpful individual advice and encouragement. In the final session he gave further advice on coping with hair – best kept simple, to avoid distracting the viewer – lips and facial lines It was great to have time to work on our 'Maggies' between the tuition sessions, making it all in all a very successful term tackling this most difficult of watercolour challenges. We collected everyone’s output on the last evening, together with a few private-enterprise portraits of other subjects. As ever, it was amazing how different everyone's styles are, despite starting from the same source material and with the same instruction.

Workshop 1 with Stewart Beckett - January 2017

We recently had the first of three workshops led by Stewart Beckett on the subject of portraiture. It was an excellent evening and a challenge for us all. Stewart demonstrated how to draw a portrait by marking reference points on the photo and using dividers to get accurate proportions. Stewart then set us the task to draw Dame Maggie Smith, this drawing will be preparation for the second of the workshops when Stewart will demonstrate how to paint her. We all learnt a lot from this interesting and challenging workshop and look forward to part two with Stewart.