Soraya French: mixed media seascapes


Soraya French Workshop 16 June 2017


If I had to sum up this workshop in one word it would be “Playing!”

In this wonderfully informative workshop, I learnt that “Mixed media” is a veil for hours of liberating experimentation. With glue, pastes, tissue paper, paints, inks and crayons, palette knives, brushes and fingers, playing was definitely the order of the day.

We started the morning by watching Soraya demonstrate an awesome seascape with plenty of drama and colour.

She kicked off with texture, revealing the benefits of using acrylic mediums: – Gels (dry transparent), pastes (dry opaque), pumice, glass beads, gloss, matte etc. She moved on to applying tissue paper with PVA glue (the colours will fade but they are still useful to establish color composition) for yet more glorious texture.

Soraya herself encouraged us to “Create a dog’s dinner”. (Howls of laughter from the room). She went on to qualify this by describing good abstract technique as “Random with some thought”.

So, while her dog’s dinner dried, it was our turn to have a go at getting our base layer of texture down.

Next came the colours: Inks (flowing like water colour), Fluids (flowing like cream) and Tubes (flowing like gunk). Oh my! What a wonderful array of dripping & dancing paint. She applied it with what looked like complete irreverence, using brushes and palette knives and finished off by stamping on her painting with bubble wrap, striking it with chinks of oil pastels and liberally splattering it using the little finger technique (top secret).

Plenty of “Oohs!” and “Aaahs!” from us students.

The next hour or so was full of excitement as we all got stuck in. We had so much fun the joy was palpable.

Following lunch Soraya gave us another spectacular demo on fresh 200lb Not paper. She guided us through setting out and prioritizing areas of focus.

After scribbling with oil pastels to create cliffs of resist, she dived in with a mesmerizing display of mastery; dropping neat acrylic inks on top of Fluid acrylics (gasps from the crowd) and washing them in. With a flurry of splatter for foaming surf and some deft swishing around with her fingers, voila – “Crashing wave painting”.

Suffice to say Soraya did in fact demonstrate 30 years mastery of all the mediums she used and the amount of learning she imparted to us in one workshop was unbelievable. One key tip she gave was that planning the order of application and being patient during drying times was paramount.  She also said that most mistakes are recoverable (which is a relaxing break after water colours) but if a painting is dead it’s dead. Give it up and learn what not to do next time. Sound advice!

My favourite tip of the day; “If in doubt – splatter!”

PS Totally recommend her books!!!!!

Report by Caroline Silver


Soraya French VPSWA

Soraya combines a successful exhibiting career with teaching two day workshops at her studio as well as writing regular articles for The Artist magazine.  The success of her art books and DVDs has brought her international recognition and following. Soraya’s studio is based at Project workshops in Hampshire. She is a UK representative for Golden Artist colours and carries out workshops and demonstrations for art groups and societies around UK as well as a number of venues abroad.

She is currently the vice-president of The Society of Women artists.  For details of her exhibitions and workshops please visit


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