Wokingham Art Society
Demo's by Liz Seward Relfe
Visit her at sewardart.co.uk
Return to Archive 2014

"Still life in mixed media", demo, 15 April 2014

Three samples of Liz's work
It was a surprise to realize that Liz had not demonstrated to the society for over a decade - she is such a stalwart at our Annual Exhibitions.

She stresses the importance of drawing. Still life is an excellent starting-point because you arrange the objects exactly how you want them. As for the colour, don't start with watercolour - it's too unforgiving (and not in great demand with buyers). Liz used to prefer acrylic ink but now goes more for Liquitex Heavy Body acrylic, using a new sealable palette (easy to clean but without the fiddle of ordinary stay-wet ones).

For pastel-on-acrylic mixed media she recommends Caran d'Ache Neocolor II water soluble pastels - no dust and very light-fast - but they need to be kept sharp (save the shavings for watercolour!).
Liz was working from a couple of photo's of an arrangement of her own - one with shadows and one without.

She had pre-prepared a sheet of smooth mountboard by drawing pencil outlines onto a mid-tone medium magenta acrylic background. A mid-tone background is much better than white because it gives a reference for both lighter and darker tones

She started with paler tones: blue given some body by mixing with unbleached (buff tint) titanium. Working with a 1.5" flat brush she put this blue into the upper part of the picture, more white in the top-right corner (almost pure white for the brightest part of the central plate) and much darker towards the bottom left. It took a while to realize what a lot of notice she was taking of the background drawing.

Introducing Hansa Yellow (again made opaque with buff titanium) to the existing blue, in different proportions, gave the colours to start the lemons and green apples.
Stronger blues made the bands around the Cornish blue and white milk jug. Greens, darkened with complementary hues, created shadows on and behind the apples etc.

As different colours were mixed, each one was put down in several places - "Never put a colour in isolation - especially if you still have some left on your brush!"

All this paint was thinned only by the little water left in the damp brush. Too much water deadens acrylic - use medium.
At home, she would do more than this on the acrylic stage of the painting before moving to pastel, but there's not time in a demo. She would normally expect to spend two days on a painting like this, not two hours.

The Neocolor pastel were used to sharpen edges, emphasize (and correct) negative spaces, strengthen darks and lights and create subtle colour differences. For example, several different blues went into the jug (up and down strokes) and the glass bowl.

Liz used a wet finger to smooth edges. I noticed that she never actually finished anything. She would start a line and then break off to go somewhere quite different before returning. This lets you see how things are going before you get really committed.
Toward the end she reverted to paint as well as pastel, playing with colour.
She warmed whole areas, including the greys and yellows, with orange.
Several different Neocolor colours went into the metal spoon.
In some places she put a little normal titanium white over Neocolor (mixed with a finger).
FW ink provided a few "twiddly pings".

Liz did stress that what she says is not holy writ. "Experiment to see what works for you".
I became quite jealous of the people who were going to be able to join
her workshop next week and be reminded of all her advice.

So ended a fascinating evening. Thanks, Liz
Return to Archive 2014

"Still life with fruit and veg", workshop, 26 April 2014
Following her highly successful demonstration at the Art Society's monthly meeting on Tuesday 15th, Liz Seward tutored a workshop in still life friut & vegetables at W.A.D.E. on Saturday 26th.

Most of us had some experience painting still life subjects but Liz's techniques are interesting & different. We had to bring along our own subject matter, either live or on photos, and used acrylic paint on underpainted boards.

Once the drawing was done a light coating of paint was applied with a large flat brush, then more detail was gradually added. Then came the interesting part! We used Neocolor watersoluble crayons or oil pastels to add the highlights, lowlights & detail to great effect.

We were all well outside our comfort zones, but the results were excellent & it was exciting to see everything come to life with such vigour.

Thank you, Liz, for a very happy day's painting.

Notes and photos by Brenda Baldwin
Return to Archive 2014

All images on this website are the copyright of either the Wokingham Art Society or the individual artists

This document is maintained by Sam Dauncey