Mat Hill
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Coloured pastel drawing of stream flowing under an overgrown bridge. Evenly placed strokes of strong colour define plants, emulating the style of 19th century impressionists.

Overgrown stream with soft pastels on pastel mat, ~4 hours.

I wanted to try a scene with heavy plant growth. I struggled to avoid making a noisy mess, so I leaned in and went for an impressionist style.

Coloured pastel drawing of an erupting volcano. Lava pours from a black mound. In the distance; a wooded hillside obscured by cloud.

Lava landscape with soft pastels on pastel paper, ~2 hours.

Trying to build up the courage to do plein air, I copied an image I found online. It's a photo of lava erupting on Mt. Kilauea by 'John T' from Epic Lava Tours. Bizarrely, I think I might have been on John's tour years ago!
I used masking tape to get clean borders, something I'll definately do next time.

Coloured pastel drawing of a golden doodle in a grey fleece, on a sunlit beach.

Isla on the beach, with soft pastels on pastel paper, ~5 hours.

I bought a box of soft pastels to try them out. I really love the rich pigments, and was forced to try out 'broken colour' to imply hues I didn't have. The pastels are extremely messy, but quicker to set up than oils!

Charcoal nude of a recumbent woman.

Figure with vine charcoal, on rough paper, 3 hours.

I worked a lot faster this time, so I stopped early to avoid losing some of the looseness. I tried using a soft brush to get smoother gradients, and spent more time re-working uneven tones.

Colour painting of two ears of Maize against a rough pale blue background.

Maize, 2 hours.

My friend wanted to try painting, but we didn't have much time. I'm quite happy with the results! The pressure probably helped me make more economical strokes, and I like how much of the warm underpainting shows through.

Charcoal nude of a seated woman.

Figure with vine charcoal, on rough paper, 4 hours.

I felt more confident this time, so I had a go at refining the chair and background. Getting an even tone over a wide area is difficult, so I kept re-shading lighter patches until it looked flat from afar.

Colour painting of yellow and a red bell pepper, against a pale blue-white background.

Peppers demo.

My friend wanted to try oils, so we painted a some peppers.
It was interesting tackling something so chromatic, where the delineation of light and shadow requires extra attention. I ended up scrubbing in the shadows in with diagonal strokes and leaving them simplified. I think the contrast in amount of detail in the red pepper defines the form almost as strongly as value.

Colour painting of an orange, lime, and some white grapes, against a blue background.

Fruit still demo.

A couple work friends visited the studio to try out oil painting. I ended up walking them through methods I'd learned over the past year, and we were all super happy with our paintings!
Being busy teaching made me more efficient placing strokes, and I think I accidentally learned a lot as a result.

Colour painting of red grapefruit slices, against a textured blue background.

Grapefruit still life oil painting on textured panel, 4 hours.

As I was setting up, I noticed that the slices had a really colourful glow when back-lit.
It's an odd scene. The bright yellow skin of the fruit is effectively brown in shadow. All the strong colour is from subsurface scattering.
It found it very difficult, but looking back it came out pretty accurate!

Graphite pencil drawing of a fluffy puppy.

Isla the puppy pencil sketch, from photo.

My parents got a puppy, and she was very good at posing for cameras! It was nice to use graphite again, although rather odd drawing on a flat table / without blending stumps.

Colour painting of a sunflower, lay against a purple background.

Sunflower Still life oil painting, 5 hours.

This was my fourth attempt to paint flowers in a week! It finally came together when I chose a flower with clear details, rather than just visual noise.
I've heard it helps to literally count the petals, and to carefully capture all their angles and bends.

Charcoal nude of a seated woman.

Figure with vine charcoal, on rough paper, 4 hours.

I kept things simple this time, just using the provided vine charcoal, rubber, and tissue paper. It was nice to be less precious, and focus only on improving what I got wrong last time.
I still failed to finalise the proportions of the legs before the first break, and lost the nice gesture of my initial lines. Otherwise I learned loads about softening / hardening edges, and how to draw curly hair.

Red chalk nude of a seated woman.

Figure with sanguine, on rough paper, 4 hours.

I wanted to practice quickly grabbing proportions, then rendering the forms.
As a result, the proportions are rather strange. Her upper torso is elongated, and some of the lines of the limbs are curving incorrectly (like her left forearm).
I would like to get faster at judging proportions, and perhaps learn some anatomy to fill in the gaps.

Colour painting of an orange, above a monochrome painting of an apple and a pomegranate.

Fruit still life oil painting.

I set up a painting corner in my studio space. It lets me and a couple friends paint still life setups regularly, which will be great practice!

Charcoal line drawings of eyes.

Plate I, 1

I set up a heavy easel beside my work desk, and started working through Bargue Plate copies in charcoal. I figured they would be a good way to improve my sensitivity to proportion and value.
I don't draw them sight-size, or spend more a few hours on each, but its something I can fit in mostly every day :)

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