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Water Colour Demonstration by Elaine Duffy
November 4th 2013

Elaine Duffy
T his was the first time Elaine had done a formal demonstration to an Art Guild and we promised to be kind and not to heckle too much. Elaine has no formal qualifications and came to art late in life after she was diagnosed with a serious illness, she referred to painting as “her saviour”

E laine's main subjects are animals, portraits and flowers she brought some examples of detailed maps and quirky illustrative pictures which she had done for children.

S he uses Winsor and Newton Artists quality block paints all are transparent and one of her favourite colours is Neutral Tint, heavy water colour paper textured and smooth and has just discovered Fabriano Artistico paper which has become a firm favourite even if it is an unforgiving paper.

Elaine at work
H er paint brushes are from the Range and a sable mix purchased from Rosemary and Co, neither are very expensive and lend themselves to the way she paints by loading them with a pale liquid wash blotting them onto tissue to remove the majority of the paint and splaying open the bristles of the brush and then dabbing them onto the paper in a stippling effect, this layers up the tones very gradually and gives a textured look. Elaine then overlays this with very fine lines and details, she very rarely uses a straight forward flat wash over any section of her work.

E laine is a member of the SAA, The Society for All Artists and took part in Warwickshire Open Studios for the past couple of years. We contacted her from this year's catalogue.

T he first half of the evening was taken up with Elaine talking us through her method of painting and showing us many examples of her work old and new the main demonstration followed in the second half of the evening was far more detailed. She had selected a photograph of a terrier and taken the eye section to enlarge and paint. Elaine always starts with the eyes and had pre-painted various stages of eye as discussed earlier, it was slow and very detailed, working into the negative to show up the white hairs which were the paper and having to let each section dry in-between applications.

I n all of her completed paintings Elaine never paints a background only the subject, be it animal, portrait or botanical and in some cases she shades off gradually at the edges to leave no definite line at the borders.

I t was an interesting evening showing us methods we have not used before. Let us hope that in the next few weeks some of us will attempt this process and we hope to see many portraits in the next few weeks. Our Thanks for the informative Demonstration. We have invited Elaine to come along and visit us on our Wednesday evening workshops so she can see what we all produce.

by Sue Lang with pictures from Alan Smith


Still Life Sketching
October 7th 2013

T he first Monday of the month came round again, but this time it heralded something different. Instead of the usual critique or demonstration, it was a still life drawing class.


A   variety of objects had been brought along and were gathered together to make an ad hoc collection. Members were invited to draw or paint whatever selection of the group they found interesting or challenging.

T he objects chosen, together with the medium used, thus varied from person to person, giving rise to a some very different results. While most used pencil, one of our more adventurous painted in acrylics. It was also noted that the sketches varied considerably in size.

T his was an experiment in change to see if variety would add spice to the evenings. The general view was that it had been a success and should be repeated.

I t was certainly a change to draw something fresh instead of working with a preconceived idea. Nevertheless everyone seemed to have had an enjoyable time.


Brandon Marsh Nature Reserve Sketching
August 29th 2013

T The members of the Coventry Art Guild met up at the Visitor Centre at Brandon Marsh Nature Reserve, a site of Special Scientific Interest, at around 10:30 am.

W e made our way from the Reception to the lounge and waited there until the other members arrived.

T he walls in the lounge were covered with wild life pictures to browse while waiting, also a large map with all the interesting places to see. The availability of mobility scooters for those of us with difficulty in walking made it much easier to get around.

W e started on the trail from the rear of the centre, where we were escorted by our Guild Chairman Roger, along a well maintained pathway. On reaching Goose Lake two of our members decided to sit on a bench and do some sketching of the lake with the geese on the island. The rest of us carried on exploring the other lakes with our cameras at the ready, some better equipped than others with their Telscopic Lens. All of us did our best to capture moving dragonflies and butterflies, then resting in specially constructed bird hides.

Roger and camera

S ome members could not resist the temptation and sampled the blackberries, while the rest of us discussed the merits of the plant life, trees, birds and insects.

L uckily the weather was kind to us being warm and sunny helping it to make a very pleasant day out. By this time we were feeling a bit hungry so we made our way back to the cafe for lunch. There was a good menu to choose from. Afterwards we compared photographs and talked about the mornings activities suggesting maybe a return visit a some later date.

M any thanks to Roger for his inspiring knowledge of various species of wild life during our walkabout and thanks to all involved making it possible.

by David Mottershead with pictures from Alan Smith


Demonstration by Roger Chamley
August 5th 2013

M ost members of the Guild will be used to seeing our Chairman painting in oils, demonstrating and passing on his knowledge to others. However on this occasion we were treated to something a little different.


R oger brought with him a canvas complete with a black and white underpainting of a bowl of apples. The painting was to provide the light shadow and shading required in the finished work, and his next job was to begin adding colour. The technique that he was to demonstrate was used in the past by many Masters particularly of the Flemish/Dutch School
at work

A s he worked he explained exactly what he was doing stage by stage. In the first instance he said he would apply a series of glazes to begin the job of building the colour.

T he basis of a wash or glaze is liquin original which helps to ensure that the paint eases evenly over the surface. A tiny drop of spirits was added and mixed with the liquin. Then the brush, a flat, was used to mix the required colour and apply it to the canvas. The first application was used to apply a background cover for the wall behind the bowl and the table. At this point no detail is being considered. A rough idea of the texture effect that will be created for the background is all that is needed. The outed edges of the line dividing the background and table was brushed out to avoid the eye being led out of the picture. Also the dividing line itself was reduced in sharpness so that the division was almost in the mind's eye of the viewer rather than firmly on the canvas.
coming together

T he bottle behind the bowl was given a blue wash and then some texture an highlighting applied with a white paint. The effect was 'blurred' somewhat to avoid the bottle gaining too much prominence and jumping forward instead of remaining behind the main subjects.

added reflections

G radually colours were added to the apples and fruit, with reds and greens and intermediate shades of brown and orange. The colours were also added carefully and faintly to the table and bowl to compliment the fruit colours, and hint at the faint reflections that they would provide.

T oward the end of the picture building process shadows and highlights were added, making sure that the prominent apple, the main subject, was given the most clarity of colour and detail. The shading required to give the shapes of the individual items was provided in the original underpainting and retained in the final work.
framed picture

T he evening proved to be both interesting and instructive. A masterclass from Roger, and our thanks to him for his effort.
by Jon Plumley


Guild Exhibition at Burton Green
July 13th and 14th 2013

Horses Head
T he weather was beautiful though perhaps a little too hot, but overall leaving us in a happy mood. The organisation led by Olive (to whom we owe our thanks) went very well. The village hall was a pleasant venue for an exhibition and the pictures turned up. Over 45 mounted and a good selection of unmounted pictures and prints arrived.

Roger demonstrating

A ll was set for a good weekend. Roger was at his easel oil and paintbrush poised for action. Cakes and refreshments at the ready we awaited the many visitors that were bound to arrive.

Cakes for sale
H owever by 4:00pm on Sunday, it wasn't possible not too feel very dissapointed. The visitors had not poured through the door. All it appeared had been for nothing. Oh! Refreshments and cakes had been sold and it was possible that they had made a tiny profit. The hanging fees had paid for the hall. So at least the Guild would not be in the red for the experience.

T hen at last, at the eleventh hour a sale, just don't ask how much the painting was sold for, because that would be really deflating.

M ore work then to be done to find a suitable and profitable venue for the future


Critique Evening with Sarah Hedley
July 1st 2013

Sarah Hedley
S arah Hedley visited the Guild recently to give us a well received demonstration of Portraiture. She was invited back this time to critique some of our own work. Her comments on the various pieces were instructive.

T he selection of artworks brought in for review varied as usual from classical to abstract and modern, while the medium used also varied from pencil to oil through watercolour and pastel.

watercolour fields
abstract fields
W hile many of the comments were specific to the picture being reviewed, Sarah did make a number of comments which could be applied in a more general way. She told us that where possible, depending upon the choice of medium, she preferred to mix the available colour pallette to produce a black rather than use a black straight from the tube. She said that she expected to see the light medium and dark areas of a painting in order to give shape and depth to the work. When it cam to dark shades in watercolour she found that less water was needed, even though generally the lighter shades would be obtained through the use of water.
pony in stable
W hen reviewing many of the pictures she asked what references were used. She explained that since we were likely to have weak spots in our techniques the internet had become a useful means of obtaining specialist help in specific areas. She also spoke of the use of the internet to get pictures of details for our own pictures where we were less familiar or were finding difficulties. So e.g. If noses were particularly troublesome it would be possible to look at a whole selection of noses using a search engine on the web.

T he evening proved to be enlightening and enjoyable. Many thanks to Sarah for sharing her expertise.


Sketching at the Charterhouse
June 27th 2013

The Charterhouse
T he Guild's sketching outings were resumed with a visit to the Chartehouse Priory. This is an internationally recognised historic monument which is known by so few inhabitants of Coventry even though it lies within a stones throw of the City Centre.

wall painting
J on Plumley gave everyone a guided tour of the building with its mishmash of styles and periods, with architecture from the 14th Century through to the 20th Century. Inside the building there are some significant wall paintings, and outside in the grounds a number of different views which between them provide plenty of opportunities for sketching.

painting 1
painting 2
T he artworks resulting from the afternoon varied from pencil sketches of portions of the wall paintings timbers and passages inside the building to watercolours (in the rain) of the exterior of the building.
painting 1
painting 2
O verall the afternoon was deemed a success, with many requests to repeat the venture again very soon.
by Jon Plumley, photographs courtesy of Alan Smith


Visit by Lesley Whelan June 3rd 2013

O n the first Monday of June the Guild were fortunate to have a visit from Lesley Whelan a contemporary artist with a unique style. Lesley has examples of her work in many areas of the UK and Europe but also in Cuba South Africa Canada and the USA.

Lesley Whelan

S he told us that she studied textile art at Birmingham University and went on to teach. Although she enjoyed teaching and is still involved with improving the skills of other teachers, she now works as a creative visual artist based in Coventry at the Canal Basin

I n 2003 she was invited to become the Artist in Residence at the University of Birmingham's Botanic Garden. It was here that her current style developed. She describes her creative practice as 'Making sense of what I see ... [with particular interest] in the connections that can be made to help the process.'

D uring the Spring/Summer of 2012, she embarked on an exciting project for the Marie Curie Hospice, being built in Solihull. She was commissioned to produce 16 pieces of work for around the reception desk of the new hospice. Her final pieces resulted from the ideas and memories of the patients, which she interpreted and embodied into the artworks.

R ecently Lesley worked with Warwick University mathematician Adam Boddison mapping out areas of the Coventry War Memorial Park and translating the mathematical concepts discovered in the natural world into pieces of Art.

Lesley Whelan demonstrating
A fter a break Lesley gave us an insight into her working practices and developed a work in front of us. She started with a prepared board having already used wax and a soldering iron to eat into the surface and produce a textured sculptured effect. This she then covered in acrylics wiped over and washed off to give a first layer.
Part finished painting

She explained how the painting was built up with a number of layers of paint and textures and careful drying in between.

L esley had brought along a number of examples of her work and some of her notebooks and portfolios which illustrated the thought process and the narrative behind some of her collections.

painting 1
painting 2

A ll members present agreed that the evening had been special and very different from our usual visitors in its content. We are grateful to Lesley for demonstrating her unique style and giving us such an interesting evening.
by Jon Plumley, photographs courtesy of Alan Smith


Visit to SAA Warehouse, Friday 12th April 2013

A   Thank you to Phyllis for reading all of the Paint Magazine and writing off to the SAA in the first place.

A fter having to cancel the trip twice because of Christmas and then the bad weather in February, the Guild finally made it to the SAA Head Office in Newark. On arrival we were met by Elizabeth who booked us in and took us up to a large room for tea, coffee and biscuits. The room was laid out with three sets of tables full of paper paints and pastels ready for us to try. We were given the latest Paint Magazine and catalogues to have a look at along with a few free samples. After a short introduction by Elizabeth we started on our tour.

T he Marketing Office is where all the Catalogues and in house literature is produced. They do all their own photography and design layouts for the catalogues. The only thing they do not do in house is the "Paint" magazine this is produced in Gloucestershire.
We moved into the Sales Office and were introduced to the telephonists who take our membership and orders over the phone. Every member of the SAA team is given product training and is encouraged to try and test the samples.

Richard from the SAA

I n the Production Suite we met Richard who talked us through the process of making the films, DVD's and programmes for the Painting and Drawing Channel on SKY191, Freesat Channel 400 on Monday to Saturday 5pm to 6pm and Sunday 2pm to 3pm. and can be viewed online at any time.

R ichard gave us a run down on the details of their new T.V. show starting on the 6th May on this will be filmed live in the style of Saturday Kitchen and Top Gear.

Richard and the SAA Studio
Matthew Palmer will host it and there will be lots of different artists involved. It will provide hints and tips on Materials and step by steps in all different mediums. He then took us through the recording and editing rooms and showed us the latest project. They are working on a film for Daler-Rowney about their Georgian Oil paints. He showed us a few clips on making egg tempera paint and a few shots taken in the Tate London Gallery discussing various paintings. Richard hoped to be able to show some of the film on the SAA Channels but it would have to be edited first as this will be a 2hour 30 minute production.

L ast stop was the vast warehouse where the orders come to be picked and packed. Most of the sets WC, Oil, Acrylic and Pastels are made up on site and they try to source as many of the products they can from within the UK. Their aim is to Guarantee a same day dispatch if orders are placed before 3pm. We were given the opportunity to purchase sight seconds and we did.

A fter a short break for lunch we could try out some of the new products left out on display. I even had a go with oil paint and the Vic Bearcroft velour pastel pad. The watercolourists liked the Magic Watercolour Sponge Erasers, and several lots of oil and acrylic paints were purchased.
I asked the MD about plastic sleeves to cover pictures that would not be framed or could be sold in our browsers, he did not have any in the catalogue however he went down to the warehouse and produced the plastic sleeves they pack their mounts in. We placed an order and were able to take them home with us.
I also discussed the possibility of the SAA coming to the Guild and giving us a demonstration or a workshop he informed me that both were options that could be organised, most demonstrations would last 40minutes and then we could sample test and play with some of the products they would bring along, we would have to cover the cost of the Artists time.
Elizabeth asked us why we did not use the SAA web site to set up our own web page, there is no charge for this and we could advertise our exhibitions. People would be able to search for an Art group by using a post code. We have brought the information back with us, as this is something to be discussed at the next meeting.

Together at the SAA warehouse
W e all left slightly the poorer in pocket but slightly richer in enthusiasm and inspiration. It was lovely to see people who never usually speak to each other during an evening session, chatting away while using the materials. Trips like this help to build the Guilds reputation. I think it was a trip enjoyed by all who went and will be talked about for some time.
by Sue Lang, photographs courtesy of Roy Thomas


Demonstration of Portrait Drawing from a Photograph
by Sarah Hedley on 1st April 2013

First Portrait by Sarah

S arah gave us a brief introduction to her Qualifications and work history, starting with her Foundation in Art and Master of Arts from Coventry University, where she is still teaching a Life Drawing Class, to her Degree from Manchester, her teaching Certificate and then her 13 years in publishing where she illustrated children's books. Most of Sarah's work is done in a 0.7 mechanical pencil so is very fine and detailed as we saw from some of the pictures she brought in for us to see. She also teaches at Warwick University.

S arah has just become a member of the SAA, The Society for All Artists and will soon have her own web site with examples of her work and details of the classes she runs. Sarah handed out the latest SAA magazines and some of their catalogues.

T he demonstration was split into two halves. The first half took the longest and was far more detailed. This was undertaken in a 2B pencil and went through the mechanics of starting a portrait telling us that there is no right or wrong ways, but showing us her way. She talked in depth about how to measure with some interesting short cuts and handy hints that Sarah referred to as "Stepping Stones" however we have all learnt from her that there are no real short cuts you must measure and compare as you progress through your picture. She talked about using the axis and the horizontal and vertical lines, using them within your portrait to see where the nose mouth and ears etc fall within the picture. She also showed us how to use the size or width of the eye or Iris to measure distances between various points on the portrait a good likeness was completed with some shading showing us that a blunt pencil was good for some things.

Second Portrait with Sarah
A fter a short break for tea she continued with the second portrait done with Pastels on a dark coloured paper giving us a mid tone to start with she worked with a dark and light pastels Sarah showed us how with good shading a likeness of the portrait can be reached very quickly. Sarah mapped in the main components of the face and then established the darkest areas first always checking the measurements and comparing the photograph against the portrait for the correct tones. Sarah explained that just because the photograph has a shaded area if you compare it against your darker paper you may have to use the lighter pastel to get the same effect. A second portrait was completed using the shading techniques.

Second Portrait with Sarah
Second Portrait with Sarah
S everal of the members took notes during the demonstration, so we hope to see many portraits in the next few weeks. Our Thanks to Sarah for the informative Demonstration.
by Sue Lang photographs from Alan Smith


Art and History
at the Charterhouse

Wall Painting

O n Saturday 17th of March I attended an Art and History event at the Coventry Charterhouse. The event was inspired by the historic Wall Paintings in the building some originally from the 14th century.

P reviously students from two local junior schools had attended workshops. After a tour of the Priory building, they worked on a group painting and subsequently on mosaic tiles.

T he Saturday workshop was arranged for local residents and interested artists, amateur or otherwise. Again it started with a tour of the interior of the building.

Junior School pupils with their Mosaic

T he artwork produced was put on public exhibition on Friday and Saturday 23rd and 24th. Considering the conditions the exhibition was well attended. It managed to achieve a mention in the Coventry Telegraph - see article at: Childrens Artwork

Jon Plumley


Watercolour Demonstration with Michael Warr 7th January 2013

O ur first event in the 2013 Calendar was a visit by Michael Warr, an internationally acclaimed watercolour artist. Art he told us, was about "Life and fun", and perhaps he was demonstrating this with his jocular attitude.

M. Warr preparing his paints

H e began by preparing the colours he was expecting to use, explaining that in order to ensure that the paper didn't dry while he was painting he felt that the preparation stage was essential. He limited his initial palette to two blues (ultramarine and cerulean), crimson and raw sienna.
painting the sky

F irst he painted the sky with a basic mixture of the blues and a hint of scarlet. However he also blended in more scarlet and some sienna within the sky area, leaving small patches of the white paper showing through occasionally.

T he mountain range was painted with a similar mixture with darker hues. This he said showed the reflection of the sky that would be expected on the snow caps. He added very little detail when painting the mountains since they were in the far distance.

H is next task was to paint the trees that would form a dark outline to the snowy roof of the derelict building that would form the centerpiece. A mixture of Payne's gray and cadmium yellow formed the basis of the green used for the pines.

Adding detail to painting

W hile adding some of the detail Michael explained that he found rigger brushes difficult to use because for him they were too long. He preferred a worn out brush which ended up as thin as a rigger but not as long and so less unwieldy. Shadow and hints of irregularity was obtained by using a wash of the water 'dirtied' by the repeated swilling of his brushes.
T he foreground plants were added using a grey/blue mixture to provide a weak greenish colour. He also added a burnt sienna and crimson touch to some of the foreground plants, which because of their proximity could be more detailed and more colourful. To finish the painting he randomly splattered the snow in the foreground with tiny droplets of paint.
finished picture

O ur thanks must go to Michael for a good demonstration, some useful hints and a jolly evening.
by Jon Plumley with photographs from Alan Smith