Thursday, 16 February 2017

Demo of Using The Zorn Pallet

River at Dedham Painted using the Zorn pallet

Zorn Pallet Demo painting
The Zorn palette is named after internationally successful artist Anders Zorn  (1860 – 1920). He is well known for using a palette of only four colours
Yellow Ochre
Cadmium Red

There has been a lot of debate as to which Black Zorn used but it is believed to be Ivory Black, which is the colour I used for the painting ‘Zorn Palette demo’. Ivory Black works well as a blue but possibly even better is Winsor & Newton’s Blue Black. Blue Black is a colour I recently discovered and use a lot in my sky paintings now.
It is possible that the red may have been Vermillion; you could try this as an alternative. The white I used was Titanium white but back in Anders Zorn’s time it is more than likely to have been Lead White.
It might at first strike you as an odd selection but the main three colours are just the earthy equivalents of the three primary colours Black being the blue.

cropped sketch

 I was working from a photograph that I took in Dedham last year. Having drawn the sketch I decided that it would be a better composition if it were cropped to a square.

stage 1

First sketch in the main lines with black and red diluted with turps.

stage 3

 Mix the dark cloud colour starting with white and adding black until you have the tone you want. Make sure you mix plenty and then split it, add a little red to one part and then a touch of yellow to another and some with both. This will give a variety of hues within the cloud.
For the blue-sky area, start with white and add a little black. It may not look blue on your pallet but on the canvas next to the other colours it will, you may even want to add some yellow to take the colour down a bit.


Make sure your brush is clean when you mix the light colour near the horizon with white, yellow and a touch of red. The colour here needs to be fresh.
The distant trees are a mix of white, black and yellow; they need to be dark enough to register against the sky but not too dark that they jump forward. In front of these the distant fields are white with a small amount of yellow.
It is very important to make sure there is no trace of white in your brush when you mix the colour for the dark trees. Even a trace left in the brush will make your colour ‘milky’. Painting in the reflections at the same time. The water should reflect the sky colours; paint this around your reflections. The meadow area is yellow with varying amounts of black and, in some places, red added.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Oil Demo at Castor

Sunset Over Moulton 14" x 18" oil painting on board

Last night I headed over Peterborough way to Castor art group. I have been a couple of times in the past so there were a lot of familiar faces to greet me. They are a great group to demonstrate to as there is lots of feedback, questions and  - the obligatory banter.
I decided to replicate a painting I did during my 30 days of painting in January. The original of this was 10" x 10" so 14 x 18 was a bit of a challenge, for a start the proportions had changed completely.
Even for an experienced painter it can be a bit nerve racking painting such a big picture in front of a crowd - you just never know if it will work. Of course there are probably demonstrators that paint the same thing all the time but to be honest - I couldn't do that. In my mind all freshness would be lost and it would be boring.
As luck would happen - this one worked, I was quite pleased with the reaction when I popped the painting in the frame at the end.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Thirty Paintings

30 Paintings in 30 Days

Well in spite of a few set backs in my health and care for my Father - I did it!!
These paintings plus another 200+ paintings and illustrations will be published in my forthcoming book Paintings Skies in Oils published by Crowood Press later on this year.
I will let you know more details when I have them.
Thank you to those that have followed and commented throughout this month. Your encouragement and support means a lot.

Thank you to Leslie Saeta for throwing out the challenge again. Over 1000 artists took part and you can see all their paintings at

Back to the computer now, I still have more to write for the book.

Monday, 30 January 2017

30 in 30 Day 30

                                       Sunset at West Beckham 14" x 18" oil on canvas

My final painting for the 30 in 30 challenge. I think I have learned a lot about colour mixing for skies which is as well because - I have been asked by Crowood Press to write a book on painting skies in oils. I wasn't sure at first but having spoken to a few artists that have been published I decided to go for it.
Most of the last 30 paintings will be  featured in the book along with step by step demonstrations. In all there will be over 200 illustrations and I am delighted to say that some of my favourite artists have contributed to book and I will be featuring work by Roos Shuring, David Simons, Mary Gilkerson, Mari French, Louise Balaam, Peter Barker, Brian Ryder and John Stillman.
I still have a few thousand words to write but I am getting there and hope to send the draft off to the publishers next month.
No doubt I will let you know when it goes to print

Sunday, 29 January 2017

30 in 30 Day 29

Ludham Sunset 8" x 10" oil on cotton covered card

This was painted from a photograph taken by my friend Kate in Norfolk. It is another example of a graduated sky. The colour changes were so subtle yet there was so much colour in the sky. You could hardly tell where the colour changes occurred. Unfortunately I decided to put in the tree thinking it would give more depth but I ended up loosing one of the best parts of the painting.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

30 in 30 Day 28

Cloud Study 10" x 12" oil on canvas board

Sometimes its useful and time well spent doing a few cloud studies. This enables you to experiment with colours and techniques without the worry of spoiling a painting.
In this study I used Cobalt Blue, Mussini Bluish Greys 1 & 2, Cadmium Red, Titanium White and Cadmium Yellow.
The Blue area was painted first using Cobalt and a touch of Blue Grey 1. The background cloud was a mixture of Cobalt, Blue Grey 2 and a touch of red. It was lightened at the edges with Blue Grey 1. The lightest area is a mix of white with Yellow and red added to warm it up and finally the darkest cloud was scumbled over with Blue Grey 2 and Cobalt Blue and Cad Red

Friday, 27 January 2017

30 in 30 Day 27

Cloud perspective, Pin Mill 8' x 10' oil on cotton covered card

Phew, got back into the studio today, again, didn't have much time as I had visitors, went into town to choose a carpet and shopping and then a couple of visits to Dad.
This is only a small painting but it was painted with a small brush which is why it probably looks a bit busy. I was fascinated by the way the clouds receded into the picture giving strong lines of perspective.