Tuition

Fast and Loose  

– wild sketching 

Wildlife artist and PA Gregory Wellman demonstrates a straightforward yet effective approach to a pencil and acrylic sketch on canvas board 

While I value a painting that is thought out, considered, then developed slowly, sometimes I need to loosen up and create an image a lot faster; an instant creativity hit if you like!

This painting is essentially a pencil and acrylic sketch, which I can work up as little or as much as I like. On this occasion I decided to keep it reasonably loose, but also to work up some of the details to still make it good enough to frame as a study.

I chose this photo, taken by my friend Steve Burgess when we were out in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve. Cape buffalo are both scary and beautiful and full of character.

I cropped the picture on my computer to give an essential and pleasing composition and printed it to A4 size, then placed it over my canvas board to check that it would fit comfortably within the edges, with a generous space on all sides. 

Cropping into a picture gives a more dynamic composition

1Using a pot or a palette, some Raw Sienna and lots of water, make a mix using the 1" flat brush, and then slap it onto the canvas board with gusto!

Let the colour be more intense at the edges, using the brush, or move the board letting gravity take it to the sides. Have fun with it; the aim is to give it an aged look so keep it loose. Add some Burnt Umber to the edges with loose strokes, letting the paint mix and run together on the board. Take a piece of clean, scrunched up kitchen roll and dab the middle, taking some of the colour off.

Roll and dab it to create various, parchment-type effects. Flick a few flecks of both Burnt Umber and Raw Sienna of varying strengths towards the edges, with a few drops here and there in the central area. Then let it dry thoroughly whilst flat

2Transfer the A4 size image using Tracedown, putting it graphite-side down between the printed image and the canvas board, thus enabling you to get the essentials down quickly and accurately. This is a fun exercise and on this occasion don’t listen to anyone (or that critic in your head) telling you that it’s not ‘proper art’ if you can’t draw perfectly well free hand!

Tip: Carefully check early on that the image is transferring ok by lifting up just one corner – making sure you don’t move the image on your surface.

Once the main image is down, copy in any extra details you may want to include. Now ‘fix’ the graphite by drawing carefully over the lines with thinned down Burnt Umber.

Tip: Be generous with dark edges, remember, if you do frame it, some of the edge will be lost to the frame.

3Mix a wash of Ultramarine Blue and a little Raw Sienna and use the size 8 brush to block in areas of hair and shadow. Make the mix darker for the shadow areas. Wash in some Raw Sienna to add warmth to areas that need to come forward, around the nose and on the horns, especially the underneath edges, this will appear to be reflected light and lift your painting.

Switch to the smaller brush when you wish but hold off for as long as you can and don’t get bogged down in detail!

Tip: Paint as boldly as you can, most ‘mistakes’ can be lifted or painted over - acrylic is ideal for this

4 By now you will have slowed down, but try to retain the sketch look, especially at the edges, and on the receding neck and body. Keep these cool with the blue and quite light in tone. Reserve the darkest darks for the eyes and nose and then deepen the tone beneath the jaw and in the ears. This stage is where you decide when to stop, whether you want to add more detail, and to lose any heavy lines that look unnatural.

For this, mix the White with one of the other colours, depending on what you are painting, and using the small brush take out those heavy lines and add a few highlights to the horns, nose, and ears to bring out the form of the face (look for lumpy bits to emphasise - like above the eyes.)

Tip: For the majority of this type of work, keep the paint thin, and try to retain a light touch.

5Carefully add some final highlights to the eyes and nose, and you may want to evaluate the strength of values here and there. I made the reflected light even warmer and added some to the bottom jaw and some around the nose to bring it forward. Try and trust your judgement, if it looks right, it probably is. Leave it for an hour, then with fresh eyes make any adjustments.

The White (a few dabs) will really act as your friend for adjustments, but don’t overuse it! Use dark washes to help light areas nearby appear lighter.

Try to retain areas of energy and looseness, and these will really balance well with any tighter detailed areas. Don’t worry about any remaining pencil lines – let them show through.

Gregory runs art safari painting holidays in Africa twice a year for small groups. To find out more visit www.artistsonsafari.com or call 01884 233585. All abilities and non-painting partners are welcome. Bookings made before April 15th receive a 20% reduction.

He also tutors and runs workshops in the UK, details of which can be found on his website. 


Tuition

Fast and Loose  

– wild sketching 

Wildlife artist and PA Gregory Wellman demonstrates a straightforward yet effective approach to a pencil and acrylic sketch on canvas board 

While I value a painting that is thought out, considered, then developed slowly, sometimes I need to loosen up and create an image a lot faster; an instant creativity hit if you like!

This painting is essentially a pencil and acrylic sketch, which I can work up as little or as much as I like. On this occasion I decided to keep it reasonably loose, but also to work up some of the details to still make it good enough to frame as a study.

I chose this photo, taken by my friend Steve Burgess when we were out in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve. Cape buffalo are both scary and beautiful and full of character.

I cropped the picture on my computer to give an essential and pleasing composition and printed it to A4 size, then placed it over my canvas board to check that it would fit comfortably within the edges, with a generous space on all sides. 

Cropping into a picture gives a more dynamic composition

1Using a pot or a palette, some Raw Sienna and lots of water, make a mix using the 1" flat brush, and then slap it onto the canvas board with gusto!

Let the colour be more intense at the edges, using the brush, or move the board letting gravity take it to the sides. Have fun with it; the aim is to give it an aged look so keep it loose. Add some Burnt Umber to the edges with loose strokes, letting the paint mix and run together on the board. Take a piece of clean, scrunched up kitchen roll and dab the middle, taking some of the colour off.

Roll and dab it to create various, parchment-type effects. Flick a few flecks of both Burnt Umber and Raw Sienna of varying strengths towards the edges, with a few drops here and there in the central area. Then let it dry thoroughly whilst flat

2Transfer the A4 size image using Tracedown, putting it graphite-side down between the printed image and the canvas board, thus enabling you to get the essentials down quickly and accurately. This is a fun exercise and on this occasion don’t listen to anyone (or that critic in your head) telling you that it’s not ‘proper art’ if you can’t draw perfectly well free hand!

Tip: Carefully check early on that the image is transferring ok by lifting up just one corner – making sure you don’t move the image on your surface.

Once the main image is down, copy in any extra details you may want to include. Now ‘fix’ the graphite by drawing carefully over the lines with thinned down Burnt Umber.

Tip: Be generous with dark edges, remember, if you do frame it, some of the edge will be lost to the frame.

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A recent review from a

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”I heard about the SAA through my Art Group and a friend let me have

some old copies of PAINT magazine to look at. I was immediately impressed with the

articles and the help inside and wrote away for the free sample of the magazine.

Well that clinched it! I joined up the next day and using the easy website began

buying artists materials on their Home Shop. They were much cheaper than other

suppliers.

They send a welcome pack with a hard copy of the catalogue, which

is glossy and a good flick through for selection of materials and DVDs etc. PAINT

magazine is full of helpful and inspiring articles, and I keep my copies close to

hand in my studio for reference.”

Vanessa Bavington

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Gregory runs art safari painting holidays in Africa twice a year for small groups. To find out more visit www.artistsonsafari.com or call 01884 233585. All abilities and non-painting partners are welcome. Bookings made before April 15th receive a 20% reduction.

He also tutors and runs workshops in the UK, details of which can be found on his website. 

[accordions title="" active=3 event="click" collapsible=true disabled=false utoheight=false]
[accordion title="Read the rest of this article"]

Already a member?

Members Click here to log in

and access the full article.


Not yet a member of the SAA?

Access to the full article is reserved for SAA members only.  If you are

not a member of the SAA, then find

out more about joining here.

As well as

access to this article and more, just some of benefits SAA membership provides

are:

  • The inspirational PAINT magazine delivered for FREE six times a year
  • Interact with like-minded artists and find your place in the UK’s

    largest art community

  • Full access to the PAINT article reference library
  • FREE welcome pack including practical help, advice and gifts
  • Exclusive discounts, member-only offers and FREE P&P on thousands of

    brand name art supplies

Join the worlds biggest and friendliest art society

Whether you're just starting out or you've been painting for years, being a

member of the SAA can help to encourage and inspire you for years to come.

Join today from as little as

£27.50 a year.

A recent review from a

member

”I heard about the SAA through my Art Group and a friend let me have

some old copies of PAINT magazine to look at. I was immediately impressed with the

articles and the help inside and wrote away for the free sample of the magazine.

Well that clinched it! I joined up the next day and using the easy website began

buying artists materials on their Home Shop. They were much cheaper than other

suppliers.

They send a welcome pack with a hard copy of the catalogue, which

is glossy and a good flick through for selection of materials and DVDs etc. PAINT

magazine is full of helpful and inspiring articles, and I keep my copies close to

hand in my studio for reference.”

Vanessa Bavington

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