June 14th Demo – Richard Crabtree :Landscape in Oils

Hagley Art Club is a broad church, we have members who paint in oils, watercolours, pastels, graphite, perspex and any kind of mixed media and this is illustrated by a broad choice of professionals invited to address our monthly meetings.

However, this last Friday’s demonstration was traditional with a capital T; idyllic pastoral landscape in oils and it certainly went down well with the audience.

Richard Crabtree paints wildlife, landscape and portraits in oil, watercolour and pastel. He holds regular weekly classes in painting and drawing as well as workshops in watercolour oil or pastel, at Avoncroft Arts Centre, Bromsgrove. He is an elected member of the Birmingham Watercolour Society and a professional associate member of The Society for All Artists.

On this occasion Richard chose to demonstrate in oils, which is pretty ambitious when you only have a two hour slot , with a tea break in the middle. Fortunately he demonstrated his experience by not allowing us to panic, it would be a recognisable image, there would be no hanging around waiting for things to dry and it would be pretty impressive

Naturally he could only work this way with considerable pre planning but it was helpful that he explained in considerable detail the steps he took to achieve the work he intended. Using a selection of photographs as his original source, Richard made a detailed pencil value sketch to prepare for the eventual work. (some of us would have been pretty thrilled to have just produced the black and white sketch! )

Richard had prepared his canvas with an under painting of ultramarine and raw sienna, pointing out that to be even quicker he sometimes does this first step in acrylic.

He sketches the main features using charcoal and then a stronger mix of the original base colour to map out the blocks of colour to be added. and there before our eyes, this wonderful painting started to emerge.

Richard shared details of all his favourite equipment: brushes, specific and in fact very few colours (Windsor & Newton artist quality) and additional mediums which allow you to manipulate the drying process. He also passed on techniques, which enable you to achieve certain effects.

Richard has an easy relaxed style of painting, he doesn’t over complicate things and yet as he paints and talks you are desperately trying to catch all the throwaway titbits that truly accomplished artists have at their fingertips

Of course the painting wasn’t the finished article, Richard was certain there was a few more hours of work left to go in to it but believe me I would have put it on my wall, just as it was.

I could repeat every step of his demonstration though I could hardly write fast enough to catch all the gems but really guys, you just need to come and see for yourselves! Suffice it to say that as Bob Swingler said in his vote of thanks, “You can always tell a good demonstration when you want to rush home and start painting yourself” I certainly wanted to and I don’t even use oils.

As usual let the photos tell their own story