Studying Old Masters – Acrylic Painting

A Study by me of “A Small Rhythmic Landscape by Paul Klee

Good morning everyone. Over the years I have done my fair share of studying old masters, in paint and pencil. In fact, I have always considered it a very useful exercise. And you can learn quite a lot by trying to recreate some of the effects produced by the artist. Actually, this seems to work whether you use the same materials or not. For example the type of paint e.g oils or acrylic, or support (canvas or paper) and so on. In my opinion, there’s always something to be gained by looking closely at the composition, choice of colours and the actual brushstrokes.

And, in my experience, it doesn’t matter which stage you are at in your painting journey. But, the key point is to approach the exercise with the intention to learn . And not to put too much pressure on yourself to paint an exact copy. But it is more enjoyable all round if you choose an artist you admire, or even love! Ok, I confess, I’ve got quite a few ‘ Van Gogh’s ‘ in the archive!

Studying Old Masters – Joachin Sorolla

A study by me of a joyful, bright abstract landscape by Paul Klee with hills, trees and flowers. Studying old masters.
A study by me of ‘ Lowtide – Elena at Biarritz ‘ by Joaquin Sorolla

Well, this is the study I painted in acrylics a few days ago whilst following an online tutorial. Actually, see here for my post on a John Sell Cotman study I completed with this same tutor. To be honest, I’m very fond of this Spanish artist, Joaquin Sorolla, and he is very well-known for painting light. As you can see, I attempted to show the glare of the hot summer sun at the beach. In particular, the extremely subtle play of light on the white cotton material of the young girl’s dress. Admittedly, not an easy task, but it really made me practise mixing slight shifts in tone. And, I will need to improve this skill if I want to progress in my painting. In effect, this is the value in studying old masters.

My Study of Paul Klee’s Abstract Landscape

A study by me of ‘ A Small Rhythmic Landscape ‘ by Paul Klee

Finally, I’d like to show you my study of a fab abstract landscape by Paul Klee. He was a Swiss artist who taught at the famous Bauhaus school of art and design. And I love everything he painted! In order to recreate this work in the class I followed online, we first laid down the grid of lines . As you might imagine, these represent the contours and field boundaries of the land. Then came the fun part. First of all, a soft , hazy background of light brown. Then we treated each section separately using a limited palette of yellow ochre, cobalt blue, crimson, black and white. And the finishing touches were the ‘lollipop’ trees and the tiny flowers.

To sum up, whilst working on this piece, I concentrated on choosing harmonious combinations of the colours obtained from the limited palette. Also, I had to think very carefully about the placement of the features in this tightly controlled composition. If you want to see some of my much less tightly controlled abstracts, see this post here. But, I just love studying like this – an unexpected bonus of having lots of free time at the moment.

Painting in Monochrome in Acrylic and Watercolour

Sunday Best

Hello everyone. Today I’d like to show you some of the monochrome paintings I have done. To be honest, I haven’t actually done a lot of painting in monochrome. But I have done loads of drawings in pencil and charcoal and some of the principles are the same. Just to be clear, monochrome means using one colour only. However, you can create all the different tones of colour to create form and perspective. Of course, this is done by adding water to watercolour and white paint to acrylic to make the original colour progressively lighter. ( I’m sure some of you know this already!)

Painting in Monochrome – a Welsh Valley

A watercolour painting in sepia tones. A beautiful, tranquil landscape of brooding Welsh hills, the valley and the river. After John Sell Cotman.
A Valley in Wales, after John Sell Cotman

Well, this is a watercolour exercise I painted this week , following an online tutorial. We were advised to use sepia coloured paint or ink. But the artist himself used black ink, back in the 19th century and it has since faded to a pleasing soft brown . In fact, I mixed burnt umber and ultramarine blue to create a faded sepia look . As we were doing a study of this master’s work, we gridded up the page to copy the composition. Incidentally, this simple scene is really quite complex!

A close up of the bridge and the cattle

The different tones of the hills and trees were carefully mixed , copying the artistic decisions of the artist. Actually, I really enjoyed the experience but I must just mention how much I struggled with the paper – supposedly a good quality one . But I found that the colour wouldn’t lift off at all and also , it ran down in strange vertical lines! And now the painting pad has been firmly placed in the ‘scrap paper’ pile!

A Nostalgia Painting in Acrylic

An acrylic painting in monochrome, faded tones of brown. A man standing proudly outside his cottage in his Sunday best clothes.
Sunday Best

Finally, here’s one from the archives, inspired by an old photo from a local mining museum. This worker stands proudly outside his humble cottage in his Sunday best clothes. As you can imagine, I was well inside my comfort zone with this acrylic painting, making all my own artistic decisions . And, I’m pleased to say that this nostalgic painting went to a new home last year. But, of course, I have plenty more artwork for sale in my gallery here