12 of us gathered on the 4th floor of the Riverside offices, which, whilst we missed some facilities, gave us good space and light for this workshop.
Adebanji told us the bulk of his work is the urban landscape and the principles he works to apply whatever media – he demonstrated in acrylics, but we had oil painters and watercolourists attending. Adebanji had brought a selection of photos he had taken from which to work, most from the top of a bus giving an interesting perspective. His advice is to stalk a great light – use early morning or late afternoon to get the most interesting light and shadows. Aim at an interesting abstract plan to give a centre of interest. Remember, shadows are never black. If the light is warm then shadows are cool and vice-versa so always try and mix your dark colours including some colour in them.
Adebanji then did a very quick demo to show how to work with just dark, mid and light tones, and by squinting at the photo you end up with a very interesting abstract design. Do the darks first, then the mid (grey in this instance) and finally the light (white). Keep ‘Notan’ in mind: this Japanese word means light/darkness and in paintings, a Notan drawing is the underlying dark/light structure and the harmony from the arrangement of these two elements. However, it is important to remember not to have equal amounts of tone and light ie have more dark & mid-tones than light or more light than dark/mid-tones.
Adebanji grids up his photographic images to transfer to board. He tends to work to the ratio of 4:3 and had asked us to bring along 12″ x 16″ supports. These you can easily grid up with vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines and this enables you to plot the drawing onto the board. Take time to draw and get it correct. He tends to draw on a coloured ground with ‘Zig’ brush pens, which come in a range of colours – much quicker than using a brush and thin oil or acrylic. Plus, if you practise sketching every day, this will make transferring to the board so much easier. (When sketching, don’t go for perfection, go for habit).
The other important thing when transferring and painting is go for shapes rather than thinking ‘sign’, ‘tree’ etc as it is inhibiting to think of items in this way. For this demonstration, he was working ‘outside in’ which means blocking in the big shapes and then adding the detail. His advice for painting the picture, once you have transferred the image is:
1. Always start with the sky and really look at the change of colour – on a sunny day it has very little blue in the distance and then gradually changes as it become closer/over the top of you.
2. Tackle the ground next, and do the shadows first. Remember to mix colours into the shadow and use thinner paint – shadows are not solid things. Vary your strokes depending on what you are painting.
3. Then, in this instance, tackle the trees and the one in the distance first using a mid-tone green such as a viridian/yellow ochre mix, adding a warmer yellow for lighter tones. Use very quick dabs of paint to keep the leaves ‘alive’ and to prevent a solid edge. For dark tones, add alizarin red to the green.
Only at the end do you add the figures, hi-lights and other details. With figures, it is much better that the head is small and too small is better than too big. Without overworking/overdoing the painting you can get something of great interest.
Another useful thing to know, when doing reflections on a wet pavement, say, is that objects that are lighter have a darker reflection, and objects which are dark have a lighter reflection eg a black lamp post will have a slightly lighter reflection in the wet.
After this comprehensive demo, we all set to work, trying to remember all of Adebanji’s guidelines and advice and, as usual, he went around us all helping and advising each of us how to develop our work. At times you could have heard a pin drop with the concentration! We finished with a quick get-together at the end to get feedback from Adebanji, which is always very positive and encouraging so we are already looking forward to his next workshop.
Left: Jacqueline Dilman Faure; Right: Briony Watson
Jacqueline D-F Ann Colson Patricia Walters Gordon Ferdinand Tony Herbert Rosalyne Ferdinand
Patricia Watson Philippa Seebohm Guest Irene Smythe David Manassian Rene Sandberg
A satisfied group at the end of the day!!!