Demonstrations:

Please find below several demonstrations showing the stages an oil painting goes through to reach completion, with commentary by Peter.

Bridge over a Devon Stream, Oil on board, 9 x 12 ins

The inspiration for this painting was the quality of pure light in this contre jour view of an old bridge over a stream near Chagford in Devon, with sparkling sunlight reflecting off the water and catching the tops of the wall and bridge.

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Stage 1

I'm using an MDF gessoed board, stained with a neutral colour to kill the white and left to dry. I quickly sketch in the composition with charcoal and flick off most of it with a rag to leave a ghost image, and then started to place the trees as marker points with thin paint.

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Stage 2

I then scrub in the whole painting with white spirit-thinned paint, using a very warn Acrylix No4 Flat Brush. The mixture is not too wet; otherwise the paint will remain too slippery. Only the approximate tones are established at this stage.

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Stage 3

Now I paint in the sky colour and the distant hedge and sunlit field with a No2 Acrylix Flat and restate the trees with more accurate local colour, using more Titanium White in the mix. The branches are superimposed on top of the sky and field colour, using a Pro-Arte Prolene No1 Rigger. To do this, I hold the brush very lightly right at the tip, not on the ferrule as most newcomers to painting usually do, and let the very point of the brush dance over the paint to produce those feathery lines of branches.

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Stage 4

Now I turn my attention to the bank of trees on the right and place a variegated mix of subtle colours in that area, using a long (2.5 inch) haired 1-inch Household paint brush, held on the bristles between thumb and forefinger with the other fingers on the ferrule, so that the brush is fanned slightly and is controlled. Using the same brush well loaded with a light yellowy-orange mix of paint, I place the Autumn leaves still left on the trees in the centre and left of the painting. The gate is also painted in using the Rigger and the top-lit slats are indicated.

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Stage 5

At this stage I further resolve the grass bank on the far side of the stream, again using the Household Brush with various mixes of green to get the feel of the sunlight and shade. I also paint in the neutral stones of the wall and the lovely rich Burnt Sienna ancient brickwork of the bridge.

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Stage 6

Now I move on to the water, firstly placing the light blocks, using a subtle mix of Titanium White and Cobalt Blue with a touch of Permanent Rose and Cadmium Yellow Light. I reserve the pure White for the reflected sunlight on the water below the right hand wall.

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Stage 7

The darker mixes of the reflections in the water are placed, using an Acrylix No2 Short Flat, being careful to place the tree reflections to marry-up correctly, then while the paint is wet, using the sharp chisel edge of the brush; I suggest the moving water and disturbed reflections.

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Stage 8

The water is given further work and the lovely little glint of pure sunlight is carefully resolved, painting the diffused halo effect around it.

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Stage 9

To finish, I paint in the foreground bank, again using the Household brush and place the sunlit tall grasses against the dark water beneath the bridge and the darker grasses against the sunlit water, using a well loaded single camel hair taped to an old rigger handle. (If you have a cat, any shed whiskers are perfect for the job - nice and springy - but don't go pulling them out!) A few highlights are restated and voila, the painting is finished!

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