Painting portraits for the new year

Our Thursday meetings got off to a great start in January, with a stimulating demo from artist Keith Morton on painting a portrait in acrylics. Keith uses a limited palette of primary colours to focus on a careful construction of the face to underpin later layers of paint. Thanks too to our model, Casey Kitchener!

Landscape painting with pastels

Thanks to artist Dawn Limbert for an entertaining and instructive demo on painting a landscape scene with soft pastels for our June meeting.

Dawn works mainly on Pastelmat paper, building up thin layers of colour using multiple short strokes, adding tones from light to dark. She scumbles colours together lightly, to avoid the ‘muddy’ effect that is often a risk with too much blending of soft pastels.

Dawn paints both in her studio and in the open air, and finds she gets the best results having experienced the location.

Painting a seascape in acrylics

We enjoyed an excellent demonstration from Sue Gray at our May meeting on painting a seascape in acrylic. Sue works mainly from small sketches which she does in situ, then works up the finished painting in the studio. She uses Daler Rowney System 3 acrylics, working on 3mm MDF boards, coated with gesso.

Building cities with scissors and glue

Everyone got stuck in with the paper, scissors and glue at our March collage workshop, led by Kim Amis, to produce a wide and wonderful range of cityscapes.

‘It was a very good evening – Kim always gives us surprising ways of collating materials and redesigning a cityscape idea,’ commented EAC member Dolores Kitchener.


Painting a portrait in acrylics

We enjoyed a great demo at our February meeting from artist Keith Morton of painting a portrait in acrylics.

Volunteer model Christine sat very patiently as Keith spent a lot of time measuring dimensions by eye and ensuring the foundations of the portrait were sound before he began adding paint.

Keith’s top tip for painting is to think carefully and make each brush mark just once – no fussing with the paint!

Take risks and make mistakes!

The EAC October meeting enjoyed a stimulating demonstration from experimental watercolourist Keith Hornblower on his dynamic approach to the medium.

Working at an upright easel with just three colours, Keith applied several layers of paint, wet in wet, to build up texture, somehow controlling the mix and incorporating drips and random effects to produce a monumental Icelandic landscape in just two hours.

‘My approach is dynamic and spontaneous, applying paint at speed, moving and adjusting washes as I progress,’ says Keith.

‘Light and shade – tonal values – are everything to me. I use colours for dramatic effect rather than trying to reproduce them literally, thinking mainly in terms of warm and cool, and often working with a simple triad of primary or secondary colours.’

Keith’s advice: ‘Remember – take risks and make mistakes. I do it all the time!’


Our April AGM was followed by a lively art quiz, won by The Beers team with an impressive 38 points out of a possible 44.

Here are just some of the questions – how well will you do?


1. Which actor played JMW Turner in the 2014 Mike Leigh film, Mr Turner?
2. Desperate Romantics was a BBC2 series about the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Name one of the original five founder members of the Brotherhood.
3. The 1956 film, Lust for Life, stars Kirk Douglas as which artist?
4. There are two presenters and three judges of the Sky Arts shows Landscape Artist of the Year and Portrait Artist of the Year. Name ONE of the presenters or judges.
5. The film Girl with a Pearl Earring, starring Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth, was set in the household of which Dutch artist?
6. Artist Tony Hart presented many children’s TV art programmes from the 1960s to the 1990s. He often appeared alongside an animated Plasticine character. What was the name of this character?
7. The 2022 film, The Duke, starring Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren, was based on the true story of the theft in 1961 of a portrait of the Duke of Wellington by Goya. Which gallery was it stolen from?
8. Four of the following five musicians are also visual artists. Who is the odd one out?
Joni Mitchell, Bryan Ferry, Ronnie Wood, Phil Collins, Bob Dylan
9. The fictional theft of a real-life painting of a bird by 17th-century Dutch artist Fabritius is the subject of a 2013 novel by Donna Tartt and a 2019 film. What was the title of both the novel and the film?
10. The 1972 record Vincent (Starry Starry Night) was made by which American singer-songwriter?


1. Which artist painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel?
2. In which world city would you find the Metropolitan Museum of Art?
3. Picasso’s 1937 masterpiece, Guernica, was inspired by the bombing of a village of that name in which country?
4. Which sculptor and artist made an iconic series of drawings of people sheltering on platforms in the London underground during World War 2?
5. Whose artwork of an embroidered tent was destroyed by a warehouse fire in 2004?
6. The Royal Academy was originally housed at Somerset House beside the Thames, where it held its annual summer exhibition. What is the name of the gallery that now occupies that space?
7. The artist Vanessa Bell was a member of the Bloomsbury group. What was the name of her literary sister, also a member of the group?
8. The artists Matisse and Toulouse-Lautrec share a common first name. What is it?
9. Which German artist was known for his highly realistic portraits, painting around 150 members of the court of Henry VIII?
10. The Tate is a network of four museums, two of which are in London. In which English locations are the other galleries situated?


1. Timothy Spall 2. Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, James Collinson and Frederic George Stephens 3. Vincent Van Gogh 4. Presenters: Joan Bakewell or Stephen Mangan. Judges: Tai Shan Schierenberg, Kate Bryan, Kathleen Soriano
5. Johannes Vermeer 6. Morph 7. The National Gallery, London 8. Phil Collins 9. The Goldfinch 10. Don MacLean

1. Michaelangelo 2. New York 3. Spain 4. Henry Moore 5. Tracey Emin 6. The Courtauld
7. Virginia Woolf 8. Henri 9. Hans Holbein the Younger 10. Liverpool and St Ives

Taking a line for a walk

Many EAC members and guests braved the cold and wet to attend the February meeting for a highly engaging talk, ‘Taking a Line for a Walk – A Short History of Drawing’ by artist and designer Mark Lewis. 

The title was derived from a quote by Bauhaus artist Paul Klee: ‘A line is a dot that went for a walk. A drawing is simply a line going for a walk. Art does not reproduce what we see; rather, it makes us see.’ 

Mark took us on a whistle-stop illustrated tour, from the cave drawings of Lascaux through to the experimental approaches of the 20th century, showing the many ways that humans have used drawing to communicate since prehistoric times.

A look at the schematic, two-dimensional drawings of ancient civilisations such as the Egyptians and Greeks led on to examination of the artistic advances of the Renaissance, when the formulation of linear perspective and a fascination with the human form led to the full flowering of drawing in three dimensions.

We looked at the achievements of many great artists, such as Raphael, Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci. The latter’s extraordinary output included not only some of the world’s most enduringly beautiful images, but also highly detailed scientific drawings recording the results of his anatomical dissections, and technical drawings through which he worked out his ideas for a multitude of inventions.

Artists such as Rubens and Rembrandt drew incessantly, capturing scenes of domestic and street life to leave a fascinating record of everyday life in the 17th century.

Even with the invention of photography, drawing continued to be an essential means for artists to explore the world around them. Degas and Toulouse Lautrec used rapid sketching to express the movement and dynamism of 19th-century urban society, with subjects such as the ballet, cabaret and horse racing.

In the 20th century, art turned inward to explore the workings of the mind. ‘Automatic drawing’ was a technique developed by the Surrealists, aiming to channel images from the subconscious directly through the artist’s hand, without interference from the conscious mind. 

Gesture drawing is a technique that has developed in recent years, particularly in life drawing, where the artist records a series of fast poses using the minimum of line and tone to capture feeling, action and movement.

Although at first quite modern and experimental in appearance, the technique shows a clear line of connection, all the way back through the Renaissance, to the work of those first artists making images on cave walls, who sought to use the simple medium of line and mark-making to express the world around them.


For more information on future topics, see Thursday Meetings