Drawing in paint


Drawing for me is a foundation.  I find I think through the pencil – in fact, very often when I begin to draw there feels to be a sort of connection between the pencil and the hand, which is outside of me.  I love it when the drawing takes over, when the brain turns off and there is just the image.  This doesn’t always mean however that the image is what I expect – very often it is inaccurate , smudgey and probably not very impressive.  But it has an energy and a life which is special. This doesn’t happen with every drawing!

Drawing with paint is a different process and entirely new for me.  I like the fluid line which is produced and will probably in time learn to enjoy it.  At the moment however not sure if it will ever produce the same feelings as the pencil. The difference I think is that, with the pencil, I can sort of sculpt and mould the object on the paper and it starts to emerge out of the darks and lights of the tonal structure.  The paint doesn’t do this but is flat and linear.


The still life composition exploring the linear qualities of the subject focused on an arrangement of my easel, some sketchbooks and a painting cloth. I explored the subject in three quick studies using charcoal and the eraser, then biro and then charcoal. I tried various view points to try for the most interesting linear qualities.

The final composition was satisfying. It expressed a moment in time during the execution of a painting and there was a ‘captured moment’ sense.  However after the first paint sketch using Paynes Grey and wash, I lost it! In trying to work with the paint without much understanding of what would happen, the piece became laboured and overworked.  Complete disaster set in when I tried to express the softness and folds of the cloth – just couldn’t do it! (No problem if I had been using a pencil!!!) Then I experimented to see what would happen if I used an outline – hate this!

But I learnt a lot!

  1. Putting down a basic tonal study in greys was a good beginning for me at this stage.  It gave the structure to the image and I was clear in my mind about where I was going.
  2. I really liked the sketchiness of the first image – it made me feel that a sudden breeze was about to blow across the pages and the cloth. I love that – the lightness, the transitory sense of the material moment.
  3. Overworking never works for me!  I always know the point when I have lost it but I keep going when I think I should abandon it. I must learn that just because you can over-paint with the acrylics it doesn’t mean that this is a good idea.  The whole piece becomes heavy and laboured to my view and I really don’t like it.
  4. I did learn about using warm colours in the foreground and cooler tones in the background – from Cezanne’s ‘PINK ONIONS’. I think this has worked in the study. So that is one piece of practical knowledge which I can begin building on in my struggle to understand COLOUR.
  5. Painting folds of fabric is a skill which I need to learn!




About pbfarrar

I am an Australian living permanently in England. I have recently retired from the position of Principal of an independent school and have taken up the study of Fine Art with the OCA.
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