Tutorial: Monet's Waterlilies 1916-1926

Famous Paintings in Miniature Number 6: Monet's Waterlilies

In this, the sixth in my famous paintings in miniature series, I will be showing you how to recreate Monet's Waterlilies, 1916-1926

Tilly the Guide Dog Puppy

On the 15th of November I became a Guide Dog Puppy Walker - which means that I get the pleasure of caring for a small black labrador puppy until she becomes a large black labrador adolescent of around 12 to 14 months. I have to teach Tilly the ways of the world, make her as bomb proof as I can, and cover off her basic training before she goes on to Guide Dog School. I tell you, it's a steep learning curve for the both of us!

Along the way I shall be recording our journey in a little sketchbook. Here are the first few pages...


Tutorial: Kandinsky's Swinging Schaukeln 1925 in Miniature

Famous Paintings in Miniature Number 5: Kandinsky's Swinging Schaukeln 1925  

In this, the fifth in my famous paintings in miniature series, I will be showing you how to recreate  Kandinsky's "Swinging" or "Schaukeln" 1925. 

Sketch diary: Holiday in Konstanz

My daughter Kit needs to decide whether to spend her 3rd year of her university life in Konstanz or Berlin. She's already been to Berlin so we thought it would be a good idea to go and check out Konstanz. And of course it was a great excuse for a holiday! 


It is so unbelievably beautiful at Bodensee (the German/Swiss/Austrian name for Lake Constance).Here are some sketches from our holiday with shockingly bad text by an enthusiastic German learner (ME!). I hope you like them...


Holiday in Konstanz 2016


Tuesday
The Journey 30.08.16
by taxi from Aughton to Manchester
by plane from Manchester to Stuttgart
by train
     from Stuttgart to Rohr
     from Rohr to Böblingen
     from Böblingen to Singen
     from Singen to Konstanz

               Ten hours later we arrive!



Melting White Nights Watercolour - a story of Cerulean Blue

I wasn't intending to write a review of St Petersburg White Night paints as I only have one, but I'm so dismayed by it that I simply had to tell you guys about it.

Picture the scene: it was a gorgeous summer's day, I had an errand or two to run and then I was free for a couple of hours. Great! I packed my watercolours, paper, waterpots and my new favourite sketching brush (a 5mm flat springy one stroke brush that seems to be able to do everything) and a lovely picnic of cheese, an amazing apple and ginger pickle sauce from my local church and some homemade slaw mmmmm. I stopped in town for less than an hour to do my chores, leaving everything in the car. The sun was shining but this is England right, the cheese will be fine.

After walking up and down the canal for a while I found a perfect spot at Burscough Wharf and set myself up by some empty moorings.

I often start a new sketch by establishing my lines with a yellow sharpie. YIKES I nearly lost half of them in the canal - it's a good job that they float!

Now to open those fabulous watercolours.

Hang on, what's happened, the lid is stuck!

Gently prise it open to find this...


Watercolour and masking tape - a mini review

I was recently sent a couple of different scotch masking tapes to try out so thought I'd put them through their paces with my watercolours.

The two tapes were 


  • Scotch 25 mm x 50 m Masking Tape for Delicate Surfaces - Beige
and
  • Scotch 24 mm x 50 m Greener Masking Tape - Beige

For my first comparison I used 2.5 x 3.5 inch 300gsm Daler Rowney NOT surfaced watercolour paper and my travel Artist watercolours from Cass Art. The colours I chose to use were cobalt blue, cadmium red and cadmium yellow.

Tutorial: Vincent Van Gogh's "A Wheatfield, with Cypresses" in Miniature

Famous Paintings in Miniature Number 4: Van Gogh's A Wheatfield, with Cypresses  

In this, the fourth in my famous paintings in miniature series, I will be showing you how to recreate  Van Gogh's “A Wheatfield, with Cypresses”, 1889.


Displaying miniature art

I took delivery of a new fireplace this morning...in miniature of course! It needs a little touching up, but here are a couple of photos I took just now.




Tutorial: Hilma af Klint “The Ten Biggest No. 2, Childhood” in Miniature

Famous Paintings in Miniature Number 3:  Hilma af Klint “The Ten Biggest No. 2, Childhood”, 1907 

In this, the third in my famous paintings in miniature series, I will be showing you how to recreate Hilma af Klint's “The Ten Biggest No. 2, Childhood”, 1907, Oil and Tempura. 

Framing Miniatures and my 2016 Kingfisher Series


2016 Kingfisher series

Have you ever seen a Kingfisher? I've only seen one once, so when I was recently commissioned to paint one I turned to the artist meets photographers facebook page 'Photos for Artists' to find a decent reference photo. I was not disappointed - the talented Peter Skillen had several to choose from. And therein my Kingfisher series was born. How could I choose from all those fabulous photos? 

6 x 4 inch watercolour, SOLD

6 x 4 inch watercolour, £20

Tutorial: Turner's Fighting Temeraire in Miniature

Famous Paintings in Miniature Number 2: Turner's Fighting Temeraire

In this, the second of my famous paintings in miniature series, I'm going to show you how to recreate one of Turner’s most famous paintings, “The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last berth to be broken up, 1838” (painted in 1839).





<Click here to find the first in the series, Van Gogh's Sunflowers>



Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) began his artistic career in 1789 at the tender age of 14, when he joined the Royal Academy Schools on the Strand in London. His early training at the Academy was predominantly in watercolours and drawings, it wasn’t until 7 years later in 1796 that Turner exhibited his first oil painting. Turner had a lifelong affiliation with the Royal Academy, becoming an Associate in 1799 and continuing to exhibit and attend life classes there for much of the rest of his life.

Turner was very successful from early age. He had a number of wealthy patrons so was able to live well and combine travel and sketching in the summer with painting in his studio in the winter months. Turner was rather experimental with his painting style and techniques, he used anything to hand to create his paintings – rags, a finger nail kept long for the purpose, and even a bit of spit and polish here and there. Don’t worry, we’ll just be using brushes to achieve our masterpieces!

In this article we are going to be reproducing one of Turner’s most famous paintings, “The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last berth to be broken up, 1838” (painted in 1839), in miniature. He was a very experienced artist at this stage, having been painting for 50 years, and his fascination with brilliant colours and his reputation for being “the painter of light” is very much in evidence in this work. We must bear in mind that the colours that Turner used 175 years ago would have been much brighter and cleaner than in the painting today, so I am going to aim to recreate this painting as I think it would have been at the time.

We are lucky nowadays with the range of ready mixed colours available for us to use, but Turner had to grind and mix his own oil paints from toxic powdered colours that included lead and other heavy metals that we now know to be very bad for our health.

For this demonstration I’m using Atelier Interactive acrylic paints – these are the closest to oil paints that I have found without actually using oils. There is a great pleasure in oil painting and if you want to use oils you can, but it will take up to a week for each layer to dry and then up to a year before the finished piece can be varnished.


You will need:

  • Scraps of mount board
  • Size 10 filbert brush
  • Size 18 filbert brush
  • Size 0 round brush
  • Size 00 round brush
  • Size 2 or smaller hog hair fan brush
  • White Gesso
  • Atelier Interactive Acrylic Paints in:
    • Arylamide Yellow Light
    • Crimson
    • Yellow Ochre
    • Burnt Sienna
    • Burnt Umber
    • French Ultramarine
    • Transparent Perinone Orange
    • Titanium White
    • Tinting White (Pearl/Titanium) 

Step 1


Turner worked his paintings on canvas. To recreate “The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last berth to be broken up, 1838” in miniature we need a support that will give the impression of a miniature canvas but without the weave of the canvas dominating the finished painting. I recommend using off-cuts of smooth mount board, easily obtained from a framing shop.

The Fighting Temeraire measures 121.6cm x 90.7cm. To find how big yours needs to be simply divide these measurements by the scale you're working in.

  • On a 1:12th scale, dividing by 12 will give us 10.1cm x 7.6cm, at 1:16th it will be 7.6cm x 5.7cm, and 1:24th it will be 5.1 x 3.8cm.

I'm working at a 1:12th scale.

If you are working in a different scale to me, simply multiply the measurements you take from my drawing by your scaling factor. For example

  • if you want your painting to be 1:12th rather than 1:16th, multiply your measurements by 16 and then divide by 12. 
  • if you want to be working in 1:24th, multiply each measurement by 16 and divide by 24.
I don’t have a suitable frame for this painting so will eventually be making my own. In the meantime I will simply stand my painting on an easel in the same way that Turner would have done in his showroom.

Since my painting will simply slot into my frame from the front I do not need to allow extra on my mountboard for framing. If you are using a commercial frame you will need to cut your mountboard to fit your frame, put it into the frame and then mark out the aperture to ensure your painting fits the frame.


Using your steel rule and craft knife, cut out the mount board to the correct size.

Apply 2 coats of white gesso with a flat brush to prepare your canvas. This will stop your paints from soaking straight into the board. You'll need to leave it for at least a day to thoroughly dry.


Step 2


The only drawing we will be doing on this painting is the horizon line, approximately one quarter of the way up from the bottom. Draw as lightly as you can – mine is heavy so that you can see it but as soon as I took this photo I erased as much of it as I could. It is possible with acrylics to paint over heavy pencil lines but it’s much easier if we don’t have to worry about it.




Step 3


Before we add some colour we're going to need a palette. To make my own own stay-wet palette I use a small plastic takeaway box lined with wet kitchen roll on the bottom and greaseproof paper on top. When I leave my paints for any length of time I simply put the lid on and the paints stay workable.

The key to painting like Turner is to be bold with our initial application of colour. Using the size 10 filbert brush, place dashes of Arylamide Yellow Light, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna mixed with Transparent Perinone Orange, French Ultramarine, Crimson and plenty of Titanium White to your canvas as per the photo.




Step 4


Working quickly before the paint has a chance to dry, stroke the dashes of paint with the size 2 hog hair fan brush. Hold the brush towards the end and use a gentle back and forth motion to blend the colours together. Some marks left by the hog hairs from the fan brush are very welcome here, Turner had plenty of texture in his work.

If you find that your paints won’t blend it’s probably because they are drying too fast. Simply mist with water to reactivate the paints and you will find that you can blend again.




Step 5


Turner’s paintings are full of light, indeed he was known as the “painter of light”. To recreate this effect we’re using a combination of Tinting White (Pearl/Titanium) paint which allows the colours to glow through from underneath, and Titanium White which is an opaque colour that is extremely useful for bright white highlights and for creating pastel colours.

Add lots of Tinting White (Pearl/Titanium) to the cloud and lighter areas of the painting and blend. You can switch to the size 18 filbert brush for blending, gently tickling the paints until they are well blended.



Step 6


To check that your painting is unified, view it through a mirror or take a photo of it – this helps you to distance yourself from the painting and view it with fresh eyes. Are the colours well blended? Does your painting appear to be split down the middle with all the blues on one side and the brown/red on the other? Make any corrections to the sky by continuing to add more colours, bringing the red/browns to the left hand side and the blues to the right hand side.

Go very easy with the crimson at this stage, it is very easy to end up with a painting that is too red. Small touches of crimson to the clouds on the left hand side and a tiny touch of crimson on the right hand side is all that is required.

Use the 00 round brush to touch in burnt sienna lowlights to the sky on the top and bottom right.
Move quickly on to the next stage before your paint has dried!






Step 7


Once you are happy with your sky, use the other end of your brush to drag colour from  the middle of the light yellow section (just above where the sun will be) upwards to the top-middle of the painting.
Using the size 18 filbert brush gently tickle over some of the hard edges that you just made.
Add more Tinting White (Pearl/Titanium) where required.




Step 8 


Mix Arylamide Yellow Light and Tinting White (Pearl/Titanium) and add in the sun.




Step 9


The colours in the sea are a reflection of the sky and boats, so we need to use the same method and colours that we used in the sky. Add small dashes of Arylamide Yellow Light, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, French Ultramarine, Crimson  and plenty of  Titanium White to your canvas as per the photo.




Step 10


Blend with the size 18 filbert brush. Use only horizontal strokes and a gentle tickling action. Before using any brush to blend, make sure that it is thoroughly dry – any drips of water on your painting will quickly result in your blended paints becoming muddy.

Add more colours into the sea and blend until it looks like a convincing reflection of the sky. Bear in mind that the bottom left hand corner will be dominated by the boats so this area does not need to reflect the sky. It can be helpful at this stage to turn your painting on its side – this tricks your brain into treating the areas of colour as shapes rather than recognisable reflections.





Step 11


Now we’re going to begin adding in some details.

Dash in some waves in the centre of the horizon using Titanium White and your size 0 round brush.

Clean your brush in water and create 2 shades of green in your palette by mixing Arylamide Yellow Light and French Ultramarine in equal quantities, then add extra Arylamide Yellow Light to half of your green.  Use the two shades of green to paint in the promontory to the horizon line on the left hand side of the painting.







Leave your painting to dry and clean your brushes thoroughly in water. I always put the small plastic covers back on my very fine brushes to keep them in good condition and I store all of my fan brushes in a little cardboard pouch to keep them flat.

Step 12


The next stage is to add in the boats and other water activity. Begin by painting a trapezium shape in Titanium White – a square that is ever so slightly wider at the bottom then the top. Position this shape approximately 2/5th of the way up the left hand side and approximately 1/5th in from the left.  This puts the action in one of the natural focal points of the painting. Make your application of paint as smooth as you can.





Step 13


Pick up your smallest brush and using Tinting White (Pearl/Titanium), French Ultramarine, Arylamide Yellow Light, Yellow Ochre and Burnt Sienna add in the shadows and the lines to define the Fighting Temeraire. Soften with Tinting White (Pearl/Titanium) so that the details do not stand out.




Step 14


Using Titanium White add in the Fighting Temeraire’s masts. Use a little of the Arylamide Yellow Light, Yellow Ochre and Burnt Sienna to add variation to the masts, just a touch here and there.




Step 15


Add in a hint of the rigging using French Ultramarine.





Step 16


The tug is basically made up of 2 circles connected by 2 lines. Begin by painting a circle on the left in Burnt Umber and the circle on the right in a mixture of Burnt Umber and Yellow Ochre. Then connect the two circles with a line of Burnt Umber.




Step 17


Add in Yellow Ochre and Arylamide Yellow Light lines along the bottom of the tug and add definition to the two circles that we have already put in.



Step 18


Using Burnt Umber and Titanium White paint in the chimney.





Step 19


There are a couple of sailing boats of some sort behind the tug. Using Yellow Ochre and Titanium White paint in the sails and mast. The flag is painted in Titanium White mixed with a touch of French Ultramarine with extra Titanium White highlights.




Step 20


In the distance behind both of these boats there is a hint of another sailing boat with multiple sails. Use four sets of vertical white lines to represent these, in Tinting White (Pearl/Titanium).



Step 21


In the middle of the horizon there is a simple vertical white line in Titanium White to represent a further sailing boat.


Step 22


Dot in Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre and Titanium White for the steam. Clean your brush and continue to dot without paint to blend the steam.



Step 23


Now to tackle the right hand side of the painting. Using Burnt Umber place the shape of a boat hull on the horizon, the marker buoy in the foreground and the rowing boat with two figures in it to the right of the marker buoy. All but the marker buoy are quite indistinct so if you find that yours are too prominent you can dab them with a slightly damp tissue to lift some of the paint.



Step 24


Mix some of the Burnt Umber with Tinting White (Pearl/Titanium) until you have a pale brown/grey colour. Use this to add in the merest hint of a town in the far right hand side of the horizon. It really is barely there so just a few lines with this weak grey will be perfect.



Step 25


Next we’ll add in the reflections using the same colours that you used when painting the Fighting Temeraire and tug. Note that the ripples in the water are reflecting the reflections, making them appear long. The Fighting Temeraire reflections in particular disappear right off the bottom of the painting. Reload your brush and pull down the colours vertically from the base of the boats, the tickle and blend them horizontally with your size 18 filbert brush. You can also add in a few subtle wiggles to give the effect of the water moving. Turner used this technique in several places in the water.



Step 26


Using Titanium White add in the waves around the bow of the Fighting Temeraire and the tug. This also helps to separate the boats from the reflections.




Step 27


Revisit the whole of the painting adding in highlights with Titanium White.



Step 28


Return once more with lowlights using combinations of French Ultramarine, Burnt Umber and a French Ultramarine/Burnt Umber mix, taking care not to go too dark with the latter.




Step 29 


Finally add in the reflection of the sun using Tinting White (Pearl/Titanium).




I have spent some time studying this painting and cannot see a signature anywhere, so I’m leaving mine unsigned and calling it done.

Leave your painting to dry very thoroughly (I recommend at least 2 weeks) before varnishing with an acrylic gloss varnish.

The original painting “The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last berth to be broken up, 1838” was bequeathed to the Nation by Turner in 1856, some five years after Turner’s death following a legal wrangle over his will, and is now owned by the National Gallery in London.

If you can’t make it to London you can view the painting online here.

-----------------------------------------------------------

ps I had three goes at this painting and all of them turned out slightly differently. Which do you like best?





Cass Art Professional Watercolour Sketch Box

Making friends with my new watercolour sketch box


Earlier this week I bought the new Cass Art Professional Watercolour sketch box. It is super cute, with 18 quarter pans of very creamy and vibrant paints. The best part is how small and portable the set is. They don't sell refills but that's OK, when the paints run out I'll just fill them up with my trusty Winsor and Newton professional paints.





So far I'd say they were a pretty good buy - they dissolve readily with just a drop of water and are full of bright, colourful, luscious pigment - although even with a good knowledge of colour theory I'm going to need to play around with the colours to find out what they will and won't do.






Tutorial: Van Gogh's Sunflowers in Miniature

Famous Paintings in Miniature Number 1: Van Gogh's Sunflowers


In this series I will be taking you step by step through the process of reproducing famous paintings in miniature, starting with Vincent Van Gogh's Sunflowers.




In 1880, aged 27, following a series of failed career choices, failed love affairs and a severe bout of depression, Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) made the decision to become an artist. He briefly joined the Academy of Fine Art in Brussels but formal training didn't work out for him and, supported by his brother Theo's patronage, he instead learnt from his peers in Brussels, Paris, and finally in Arles in Provence. Theo's support lasted for Vincent's entire life - famously, he only sold one painting during his lifetime - and it is from the letters between the two brothers that we know so much about his life.

Vincent's style is classed as Post-Impressionism. He was heavily influenced by the artistic community around him, taking on board pointillism, impressionism and tonal theory and developing them in his own unique style. One of his ambitions was to form an artist's community in the South of France where all members could continue to learn and develop together.

Let's set the scene. The year is 1888, we're in Arles, Provence, in the South of France. We've found a lovely house where we can set up our artist's colony, and we're so desperately looking forward to fellow painter Paul Gauguin's imminent arrival.  We're in the throes of our yellow phase; we're planning to cover our walls in 12 panels of bright yellow sunflowers - this one is number 4 in the series. Our vase of sunflowers is starting to die and we must work quickly!

You will need:

  • Off-cuts of smooth mount board
  • Sharp craft knife, cutting mat and steel Ruler
  • Frame
  • Pencil
  • Small piece of acetate and waterproof marker
  • Gesso
  • Size 8 flat brush
  • Size 0 round acrylic brush with a good point
  • Size 2 brush with a round ferrule and a flat end for stippling
  • Atelier interactive acrylics in:
    • yellow ochre,
    • burnt umber,
    • burnt sienna,
    • arylamide yellow light,
    • French ultramarine blue,
    • titanium white
  • A stay-wet palette (I make mine using a small plastic takeaway box, kitchen roll and greaseproof paper)

Step 1 

Vincent van Gogh worked his paintings on canvas. To recreate Sunflowers in miniature we need a support that will give the impression of a miniature canvas but without the weave of the canvas dominating the finished painting. I recommend using off-cuts of smooth mount board, easily obtained from a framing shop - if you ask nicely the proprietor will probably give you his off-cuts for free.

Van Gogh's painting measures 73 x 92.1cm. To find how big yours needs to be simply divide these measurements by the scale you're working in. On a 1:12th scale, dividing by 12 will give us 6 x 7.8cm, 1:16th it will be 4.5 x 5.75cm, and 1:24th it will be 3 x 3.8cm.

I'm working at a 1:16th scale.

Van Gogh made rustic timbre frames for his paintings, however after his death when his paintings became valuable, art dealers upgraded these frames to more ornate ones. I have chosen a vintage brass frame to work with.

If you are planning to use a pre-made frame with your finished painting, using your steel rule and craft knife, cut out the mount board to the correct size.

Insert your mount board into your frame and draw around the aperture so that you know how big your painting needs to be.




Remove the mount board from the frame and apply 2 coats of gesso with a flat brush to prepare your canvas. This will stop your paints from soaking straight into the board. You'll need to leave it for at least a day to thoroughly dry.

Nothing is perfect in this world and my frame is not exactly the same proportions as the Sunflowers painting, it's taller than it should be, so I have drawn another line at the bottom of my canvas to show where the actual painting will start. I'm going to extend the background and the table to fill in to my frame edges.

Step 2

There are several ways to draw your sunflowers accurately. My favourite method is to make a dot to dot by measuring key points.

Open my drawing in a separate window and scale it (by making the window smaller) so that it is the same size as your piece of mountboard. Then start at the bottom left hand corner and measure up the sides to the table edge. Measure to the same position on your canvas and place a dot. Repeat with the other side of the table and the main points of the vase, and then you can begin to join the dots.










Continue to add dots, joining as you go and checking that you drawing looks right until you have a complete drawing. 

If you are working in a different scale to me, simply multiply the measurements you take from my drawing by your scaling factor. For example if you want your painting to be 1:12th rather than 1:16th, multiply your measurements by 16 and then divide by 12. If you want to be working in 1:24th, multiply each measurement by 16 and divide by 24.

Please don't worry if your sunflowers are slightly different to mine, van Gogh painted so many versions of his sunflowers that it really doesn't matter!

Step 3

Next, cut out a piece of acetate (a greetings card wrapper will do) and using a waterproof marker pen, trace your drawing onto the acetate. This is extremely useful if you find that you lose your lines at any stage during the painting process - you can simply hold your acetate over your painting and see where you have gone off track.



Step 4

Before we add some colour we're going to need a palette. To make my own own stay-wet palette I use a small plastic takeaway box lined with wet kitchen roll on the bottom and greaseproof paper on top. When I leave my paints for any length of time I simply put the lid on and the paints stay workable.

We're going to begin by roughly mixing a tiny amount of arylamide yellow light with a one-centimetre-splodge of titanium white to give a very pale lemony yellow. In a separate area mix a tiny amount of French ultramarine with a centimetre dollop of titanium white to give a very pale blue.

Using the small round stippling brush, dab the pale yellow and pale blue randomly around the background of your flowers. Hold the brush almost vertically and don't use too much paint, blurring your strokes to achieve a soft background.

Use the same mix of colours and the same technique to paint the bottom half of the vase, with more of the pale blue at the bottom of the vase to give the impression of shadow and form.


Step 5

Now mix two different strengths of arylamide yellow light, yellow ochre and a touch of burnt umber, one with slightly more arylamide yellow light and one with slightly more yellow ochre. Using your stippling brush at an angle of 45 degrees, dab these two colours randomly onto the table. You're looking for a nice soft finish with more texture than the background but without any blobs of paint standing proud of the surface.

This same mix now needs to be applied to the top half of the vase.



Step 6

Using the mix that you used on the table, generously stipple all over the round seed heads using your brush held vertically with a light bouncing motion. Stipple in some extra arylamide yellow light and a little of the pale blue that we used in the background to tinge some areas with a slight green tint. We're looking for lots of texture here so use your brush vertically and try to get some raised bumps in the surface.


Step 7

Next we're going to paint the centre flower. Squeeze out a tiny amount of burnt sienna into your palette and using your small round brush, and gently paint the circle with a round and round motion. Stroke in some burnt sienna centres to the other flowers that will have petals.


Step 8

To do the green centres we need to roughly mix some arylamide yellow light and french ultramarine in differing amounts in your palette, to achieve two or three shades of green from light to dark. Apply these to the centre of the seed heads then put the lid on your palette and allow the whole painting to dry.



Step 9

Is it touch dry? Then let's carry on and add in the green leaves and stems. Check the paint in your paint in your palette - if it hasn't formed a film then it will still be workable. Using the same two or three shades of green that we mixed in step 8, paint in the green leaves and stems using your small round brush and working in the direction of growth. Try to vary the shades so that each leaf and stem has lights and darks, this gives interest and depth to your painting.




Step 10

I've noticed that on my painting I can still see pencil marks around my flowers so I'm going back in with more of the colours used in step 7, emphasising the lights and darks. Van Gogh was a master of tonal paintings, using similar colours mixed in slightly different ways to add depth and definition.

Paint some background colour in over the remaining flower to be painted, keeping in your mind the position of the flower. Put your lid back on your paints and allow this to dry thoroughly.

Step 11

Now we're going to add in the sunflower petals. There aren't many, as our vase of flowers is wilting, so we need our petals to have impact. Mix yellow ochre, arylamide yellow light and white, and using the small round brush paint in the petals. You can also use a cocktail stick as a tiny painting knife. Some texture is good, the main thing here is to observe the different lengths and different directions of the petals.



Step 12

Look at the whole painting. Squinting at it is a good idea as this helps you to find where you need to be darker and where you need to be lighter in order to see each flower. Using tiny amounts of a burnt umber/yellow ochre mix, add in your darkest darks, and using arylamide yellow light/titanium white add in your lightest lights.



Step 13

Mix some French ultramarine blue with a little water and using your small round brush paint in the line on the left hand side of the table. Using the same brush without reloading with paint, add in the lines on the right hand side of the table. Notice that there are two lines, and they don't both go the whole way along.

Reload your brush with a touch more French ultramarine blue and using broken lines, paint in the vase base line and the line around the front of the vase. The sides of the vase are painted with burnt umber mixed with water.

Add the blue highlights on the vase.




Step 14

And now for the most important part, the signature. Mix French ultramarine with  water until you have a single cream consistency, and practice writing "Vincent" on a scrap of paper. It's harder than it looks! When you're happy with your writing, add in the signature and leave your masterpiece to dry.


After a couple of weeks' drying, your painting will be ready to varnish. Use a clear gloss acrylic varnish and a half inch wide flat brush, and apply the varnish in clean sweeps.
Once dry, pop the painting into the frame and enjoy!




You can see the original painting at the National Gallery in London, UK. If you can't make it to London you can view the painting at www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/vincent-van-gogh-sunflowers.


If you have a go, do post a picture in the comments below. And if you have any questions at all, ask away!