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Saturday, July 8, 2017

Sonia Bacchus painting flowers


Sonia Bacchus comes from an artistic Polish family, her father being a professor of art and her mother designing textiles. Sonia is experienced in many branches of art and has developed her own style and technique. She was painting on card for the demonstration. It is ideal for practising composition skills because it can be trimmed.  Rather than using expensive gesso she seals her support with 1part PVA glue to 1 part water, then adds a layer of acrylic emulsion paint. The whole is then covered with a greyish green medium tone to match the colour of her wooden palette.

The first half of the session was done using acrylic paint (thinned with water in the early stages). She does not use mediums with acrylic paint. Sonia did not specify the names of all of the colours. She used, among others, golden ochre, tan, cobalt blue, brown, ultramarine, buff (unbleached titanium), viridian, and burnt sienna. She prefers to use Paynes grey or a mix of colours rather than black. Three bands of colour were applied to the painting: blue at the top, yellow in the middle and dark at the bottom. She painted the outline of a distant mountain in the blue section, and stems and flower heads in the bottom two sections.

Working with a small knife Sonia applied light and medium tones to the mountain area. She added a pale orange area to the sky to suggest an evening light. The flowers in the foreground were to be backlit, so the stems and foliage were dark even though parts were painted with viridian or orange. The cornflowers were bright blue and the poppy petals were bright red over the yellow middle ground. They were much darker over the dark section. Sonia uses the background to modify her colours. She demonstrated this by showing two examples of the same square of colour and how different they appear when surrounded by different colours. She suggested experimenting with colours in different contexts using gouache paints which are opaque.

The second half of the evening was devoted to glazing: applying transparent washes of colour – some dull to suggest shadow and some bright to suggest light. This improved the otherwise flat appearance of the painting. Amazingly Sonia adds oils to some areas of the painting, while leaving the remaining acrylic section untouched. She does use turpentine with linseed oil to improve the flow of oil paint.  The poppies, heads of corn and cornflowers then became stunningly three-dimensional. Touches of yellow/white or dark colour with a rigger brush added contrasting shadows and highlights to the flowers.

So much had been achieved in such a short time. Sonia had given a masterclass in how to make the foreground leap forwards towards the viewer. Her final words of advice were:

Don’t stick with one medium – be brave and try new ones.

Don’t follow a photograph exactly.
Accept that every painting will be different
Glenys admires the painting
A selection of cards


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