Learning from painter James Bland

Squint! If there was just one key learning from my Heatherleys project with James Bland (check his amazing work here) that would be the importance of squinting our eyes when painting from life to simplify our vision and the values and colours we see. Squinting blurs all the details you would normally see, which is particularly useful at the begining of a painting.

Progress shots
One exercise from the project particularly resonated with me. James asked us to paint two sitters using only two colours: viridian green and burnt sienna (plus white). At first I panicked a bit, wondering how I could render all the different colours in front of me with just those two colours. But James taught us the trick is to find equivalents in terms of temperature: everything on the warmer side should have more burnt sienna, while everything on the cooler spectrum should be mixed out of more viridian green.
It was super challenging but worth the effort. See below the finished painting.
Sitting together, oil on canvas, 61x45cm

See below two more paintings, also painted from life on the last and first week respectively, this time using an unlimited palette, i.e. using the full range of primary colours, plus burnt umber and yellow ochre.

This is a portrait of a super talented artist Bernadett Timko who came to pose on the last week of our project.

Portrait of Bernadett Timko by Clara Niniewski, oil on canvas
Portrait of Bernadett Timko, oil on canvas, 61x45cm

And here’s the painting from the first week, first time dealing with two figures in the same space.

En face, oil on canvas, 45x61cm

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