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Great Experience @ Open Studios 2019

My inspiring experiences at Arches Southampton, Open Studios – 2019

I have been a resident artist at the Arches studios for 3 years and yet this was my first open studios experience. Every year to date I have been committed to other projects, so this year worked out very well for me. I was unsure how the whole event would go so I thought I would add more stress and difficulty to the event by doing a live portrait painting. As if talking to everyone and playing my small role in making the event a success wasn’t enough.

My inspiring experiences at Arches Southampton, Open Studios – 2019
Mike Jewson – Sitting during Live Painting Demonstration Arches Open Studios 2019

But as it is said, nothing ventured nothing gained, and at the chime of 11am Saturday morning I began as the crowds descended. I was a bit nervous as not only did I have a new model I hadn’t worked with before, I was also very conscious of the public scrutiny. My usual way of dealing with this situation is to stick my earphones in and retreat into my own world of thought and creative decisions. This was not to be, and I had to face the challenge head on. The first few hours progressed really quickly with lots of talking and distractions and I manged to get the basic structure of the portrait in. My model Mike was excellent and very patient which made me feel a lot calmer as I didn’t feel the need to speed up.  By the end of the first day I was questioned out and mentally drained but felt very happy with how the day had progressed and surprised myself in the process at what I had achieved.

Finished Study from the two day event Arches Studios 2019
The finished Oil Study from Arches Open Studios -2019

Day two I was really fortunate that Mike could sit for me again (he must be a bit mad!). However, day two was a lot more relaxed as I knew what to expect and could prepare a bit better for it mentally.  Interspersed with much conversation the portrait progressed fairly well and I decided by way of saying thank you, I would gift it to Mike for an excellent job at modelling. 3pm arrived rapidly with the portrait in an acceptable state I called it a day. I didn’t want to progress it further as I thought it captured my creativity during the event with all the different influences of the two days. I shook Mike’s hand and proceeded to clean up. Once I got home, I felt totally exhausted from the event and challenge, but found out a little more about myself in the process. 

My inspiring experiences at Arches Southampton, Open Studios – 2019

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Oil Figure Painting Workshop – Sat 6th & Sun 7th July 2019


Oil Figure Painting Workshop with Stewart Beckett – Sat 6th & Sun 7th July 2019

A 2 day workshop covering the drawing and painting techniques for capturing a figure in a setting. Working from a clothed model the group will start with an initial drawing using the sight size method (which will be taught optionally to students who are interested in learning). The drawing will be done in charcoal or pencil then transferred onto your painting surface.

Your canvas will be covered with an imprimatura (coloured ground) of raw umber, onto which your transfer drawing will be placed. After fixing a direct method of painting will be started. Stage one will be the block in made from observations of the model. Stage two is about refining and setting the contrast level in the painting. Stage three is all about colour and colour mixing. Stage four will be finishing touches and detail.

Some understanding of drawing will be helpful for the course. No painting experience is required.


10am – 4pm Sat 6th July – Arch 4

10am – 3pm Sun 7th July – Arch 4


Arches Map

Arch 4 Arches Studios Central Bridge Southampton SO14 3FE

Aim of the workshop:

This workshop is suitable for anyone interested in learning how to use oil paints. Techniques to improve observation and drawing skills. Brush control and colour mixing.

Materials list:

Students will need the following materials for the course;

Oil Paints

  • Some easels are available to use, but bring your own in case not enough.
  • Colours
    • Ivory Black, Raw Umber, Dioxazine Purple, Alizarin Crimson, Cobolt Blue, Yellow Ochre, Sap Green, Cadmium Orange, Burnt Sienna,  Nickel yellow or Naples Yellow, Titanium White.
  • Odourless Thinner (Odourless White Spirit)
  • Primed Canvas 24” x 30” or 20” x 24”
  • Paint Brushes, Hog Brushes, and Synthetic (A good range of sizes)
  • Pallet Knife
  • Pallet
  • Rags, Kitchen roll
  • Old Clothes
  • An old take away tub or Tupa ware tub that we will place our paints in over night.
  • A small mirror


  • Cartridge paper A3 or A2
  • Drawing board
  • Charcoal, or pencils (HB, 2B, 4B, H)
  • Putty Rubber
  • Tape
  • Tracing paper the same size as your canvas.
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RSI and Art Don’t Mix

Since January 2014 I have been plagued by an RSI in my right arm. This effects one of the nerves and causes a lot of pain and tightness, and as you can imagine is not conducive with my painting and drawing work.  I have taught my self to use my left arm but its not the same and control is not as fine or precise. I find myself getting quite frustrated as I can’t do what I know I can do sometimes. So for the time being I have not been producing much work that requires a lot of fine control.

This has lead me on a path of experimentation and discovery that I may not have taken had I not had this problem.  I have been trying new ways of applying paint and different surfaces. My current explorations are into using mirrors as a surface, as I like the idea of introducing another level of light effect to the finished piece.  To this end I have been playing around with spraying the mirrors and then painting on top of the enamel spray. After this I scratch back into the surface to reveal small pockets of mirror, that add another dimension to the finished image. Along with this I have been using acrylic glazing mediums to introduce a textured surface that adds interest.