Introducing...

In each issue we introduce you to three of the SAA’s talented professionals and pass on their top tips for aspiring artists. These PAs are available to run workshops or demonstrations for art clubs 

Mike Skidmore

Painting portraits in oils is, as the saying goes, a game of two halves. The first part is having a clear working process along with a number of effective techniques to hand.

The second part is having the confidence to give it a go, and the determination to see through the challenges that arise.

The overall objective of the game is to create a picture that engages its audience with an intriguing narrative. I give demonstrations and run two and three-day workshops for all levels on portraiture and equestrian portraits, based upon these principles.

Helping students to build their confidence through positive teaching is an essential component, along with a step-by-step approach to techniques such as glazing, and focussed one-to-one time to help individuals make the most of their natural ‘language’.

The workshops are held in my studio in the Cotswold town of Lechlade-upon-Thames, which is as lovely as it sounds. In my commissioned portraits I work hard to ‘know’ the subject in order to form an opinion.  This helps me build character into the picture.

I also spend time observing how they move and hold themselves to establish a pose that is real. I work from life and photographs - provided I take them myself. I’ve painted a few famous folk, I’ve exhibited and demonstrated at some cool places, and I’m bursting with ideas and plans for paintings large and small.

My epitaph will be: he painted moving portraits, helped many artists to make the most of their abilities, and made everyone laugh with his awful jokes.

TOP TIP: When painting a portrait from a photograph, do not hold it close to your eyes as this would be like standing face to face with the sitter, and when you see so much detail you start copying it. If the photograph is at a distance of a couple of feet, you will have to paint an impression of what you see, just like painting from life when the sitter is a few metres away. The picture will then look more real.

Mike Skidmore lives in Lechlade, Gloucestershire. To see his work visit www.mikeskidmoreonline.com contact Cathy Skidmore on cathy@mikeskidmore. com or phone 01367 252206.

Richard Crabtree

On graduating from college I worked for several years as a graphic artist until redundancy brought about a change of career.

I took a job in a gallery dealing with originals, prints and framing, and during this time I studied for a teaching certificate as well as painting for exhibitions and commissions.

Ten years as a graphic artist until redundancy brought about a change of career. I took a job in a gallery dealing with originals, prints and framing, and during this time I studied for a teaching certificate as well as painting for exhibitions and commissions.

Ten years ago I made the decision to become a self employed artist and tutor. Then, early in 2011, I took on a small studio, the Bijou Gallery, at Avoncroft Art Centre in Bromsgrove.

From here I sell my paintings, take commissions, teach painting and drawing and offer a bespoke framing service to students and the public. I run two evening watercolour classes at the art centre as well as day workshops in pastel and oil. I also demonstrate at art societies and exhibit as much as possible.

I work mainly in pastel, oil and watercolour. Although I am happy to tackle most subjects to commission my main inspiration lies in nature; wildlife, landscape and portraits, working in whichever medium feels right for the subject at hand.

TOP TIP: Draw at every opportunity, it is the foundation of your job as an artist and the more you draw, the more proficient you will become. But remember not to put in every line, every detail – leaving something for the viewer to do will add life to your work.

Richard is based in Bromsgrove and is available for workshops, demonstrations or tuition in pastel, oil, drawing or watercolour. For information or to see more of his work visit www.richardcrabtreeportraits. co.uk or contact him on 01527 837880, 07968 808518 or email bijou_gallery@btinternet.com 

Ray Balkwill

Drawing and painting has played a big part in my life, but the other main influence has been my love of nature. I was born in Devon and brought up in the countryside, so if I wasn’t drawing I was in the great outdoors exploring my surroundings. This is probably why I love painting en plein air so much. To get really inspired I have to connect with a place, to ‘get under the skin of it’. It’s not always easy battling with the elements, but because painting on location touches all the senses the results are always far more exciting, as well as rewarding.

I agree with Monet who once said: ‘Three brushstrokes from nature are worth three days’ work in the studio.’ My interest in drawing led me to attend Exeter College of Art and after graduating I made a career as a commercial artist working in London, Bristol and Bath. It was not until I inevitably returned to my roots that I picked up painting again.

I soon found demand for my paintings was such that I decided to give up my job as an art director to paint professionally. Over the years my work has developed, mainly because I have put much emphasis on experimenting.

I work in watercolours, pastels and oils and more recently have enjoyed the excitement of working in mixed media – watercolour and pastel combined. In 2006 I was delighted to be elected an Academician in the South West Academy of Fine and Applied Arts and I am also a member of the St Ives Society of Artists.

Teaching and sharing my ideas with others has also proved to be a necessary part of my vocation. My instructional DVD, art books and articles have also helped to project my work to a much wider audience. Living on the coast, it is little wonder that the wide-open spaces of sea, estuary and sky have been the mainspring of my art.

Despite travelling far and wide in pursuit of new subjects, this special place still remains my passion, and there is nowhere I would rather paint.

TOP TIP:
When painting on location I tell my students to ‘Get inspired, get organized, get going and then get out!’ In other words find something that fires you up, get your equipment and materials sorted, capture the scene as quickly as possible and then don’t fiddle. Knowing when to stop can be a real problem, even for a professional!

is based in Exmouth. To find out more about his painting courses contact him on 01395 270278 or visit www.raybalkwill.co.uk


Introducing...

In each issue we introduce you to three of the SAA’s talented professionals and pass on their top tips for aspiring artists. These PAs are available to run workshops or demonstrations for art clubs 

Mike Skidmore

Painting portraits in oils is, as the saying goes, a game of two halves. The first part is having a clear working process along with a number of effective techniques to hand.

The second part is having the confidence to give it a go, and the determination to see through the challenges that arise.

The overall objective of the game is to create a picture that engages its audience with an intriguing narrative. I give demonstrations and run two and three-day workshops for all levels on portraiture and equestrian portraits, based upon these principles.

Helping students to build their confidence through positive teaching is an essential component, along with a step-by-step approach to techniques such as glazing, and focussed one-to-one time to help individuals make the most of their natural ‘language’.

The workshops are held in my studio in the Cotswold town of Lechlade-upon-Thames, which is as lovely as it sounds. In my commissioned portraits I work hard to ‘know’ the subject in order to form an opinion.  This helps me build character into the picture.

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