Soraya French: Flowers in mixed media workshop – 20 July 2018

Not even the loud hammering from the roofers and the occasional helicopter flying over could put Soraya off giving us another wonderful workshop. As usual, it is a lovely occasion as we let ourselves go using a free and loose style to tackle flowers.

The first demonstration by Soraya used mainly acrylic inks, a medium she loves. She started with a brief chat about acrylic saying that it was very much a ‘chameleon’ medium as one can use it like watercolour or in thick impasto like oil. Technically, Golden is the original and best when buying acrylic paints, and be careful when purchasing paints to get the one you want as soft-body is thicker than ink but thinner than normal acrylic. She tends to use 200lb Saunders watercolour paper which doesn’t need stretching. Tape it to a board neatly so that when you take the take off, you have a lovely clean white border around the image.


                                                     Soraya demonstrates: First steps                      Almost there….                                                      Detail

Another important factor with painting is patience. Take time to let paint dry and do several at once during a day which allows you to continue working but also allows for drying time.

Taking an image, on this occasion of poppies in a field, she started with a wide flat brush and very deliberate strokes in a rather abstract manner. Using washes but then working up to thicker paint, her purpose is to do the background and the foreground as one – they have the same value and importance. If there are white flowers in the picture, roughly mark them in using neo-colour or similar and leave the areas of paper white (though of course, this being acrylic, one can paint titanium white on top as well). One way to start is wet-in-wet – wet the paper, drop in some colour and see what happens. Spray with water for further distribution. Always be careful about what colour you put behind. Yellows can then have blues painted across to bring a variety of greens, but purple irises for instance, need painting without any under-colours as they will change into browns.


                                                                                    Rosalyne Ferdinand                        Patricia Roney                                  Gordon Ferdinand

Negative spaces are filled with a variety of greens produced by perhaps Hansa yellow and Cadmium yellow and then overlaid with Prussian blue. Leave some white areas for just the blue as we don’t want a red and green painting at the end but something much more varied. In the next stage, use more paint to develop the flowers and get the colours more intense and putting          darker tones around the whites especially. To pull the painting together, use neo-colour, oil or soft pastels to indicate stems and to soften colours where necessary. Gradually work on building the shapes of petals and some detail to the petals but don’t overdo it!

Demo 2 was looking at working with mainly thick acrylic. Gesso the paper first and use other texturing/modelling pastes to introduce an interesting base to build upon. [Modelling paste has marble dust incorporated so remains white whilst gels are just the basic acrylic polymer and become clear. It is always best to buy an expensive colour and bulk it out, therefore making it go further, with a gel].


                                                                                           Soraya: Demo 2                                                         Finished close-up

So using a palette knife, start with putting shapes of colour on the paper taking care to consider the general structure of your end image. Then start putting in the greens eg Prussian blue and Hansa yellow, varying the tones NB a lot of paintings don’t ‘work’ because of the lack of tone – good lights and darks are needed. Mix some greys as well and link the palette together. Do use a bit of acrylic ink here and there and eventually eliminate all the white. Any white flowers on this occasion, are painted in on top in Titanium white paint (Zinc white is more translucent). Use the side of an old credit card or other card to put in stems and other details.


                                         Caroline Silver                                                      Patricia Burbidge                              Victoria Scholfield                             Ann Mahon

I think we all left on a bit of a ‘high’ having spent the day tackling a much more abstract method which then can be gradually worked into something more recognisable.

Briony Watson




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