Experimental painting course at Newlyn School of Art

Last week I took part in an excellent course at the Newlyn School of Art with artist Dan Pyne.  This course was an continuation of my plan to have more time for creative development this year.  An opportunity to explore different surfaces & textures.


Day One:

To get everyone started with mark making without a paintbrush we were supplied with a primed board with which to work.  After applying a coat of paint we were encouraged to alter the surface with a cloth & sticks etc to remove areas of paint, create different tones & see how much variation we could achieve on that one surface.



This was followed by more paint applications on various boards, applying alcohol (very strong stuff not just cheap vodka!) which reacted with the paint to create really interesting effects.  Some layers were allowed to dry in between & used wet.



Next we tried acetate as a medium to effect paint surfaces - again unique results!

After lunch it was time for some spray paint!  Mixing with water made some amazing surfaces.  Something I will try further experiments with in my own studio.  By the end of the first day I had amassed quite a selection of colourful boards & papers.  My palette was inspired by various photographs from around Cornwall of interesting surfaces such as rust, lichen, peeling paint & rocks.  I find it helpful to work with a limited palette of colours within my work.


Day 2:

The second day of the course was more about texture.  We explored adding a selection of substances to an acrylic medium & adding to board/paper.  We used: shredded paper, plaster, vermiculite, wood shavings, pumice & quartz among other things.  These sample pieces were then allowed to dry over night as some of the surfaces were very thickly applied.


I created a further sheet with examples of textures made by pressing such things as mesh, grids, bubblewrap, nets, sponges into a wet surface for more subtle effects.  These dried more quickly so I was able to highlight the raised areas with graphite.


After lunch it was time for more heavily textured surfaces.  Working with a type of fine plaster I applied a first layer onto wooden board - you have around 15 minutes before it starts to harden so need to work reasonably fast!  Allowing this surface to dry I then added another layer & using some stencils made impressions into the second soft surface.  These were put aside until the next day.



One of the most exciting things I found from this course was the introduction to metal powders of which I had no previous knowledge.  The addition of cast iron powder & copper powder was a revelation!  To be able to add rusty/verdigris effects to my paintings is going to lead to a whole new direction in my work which is very exciting!


Day 3:

After an evening of looking up metal powders & thinking about new casting ideas I was buzzing with enthusiasm.  Today was an continuation of what we had been exploring over the previous 2 days.  Adding further surfaces to some of the textures & painted pieces.  The addition of rust to some of my texture samples was particularly pleasing to me. 




I have 2 pieces ongoing with plaster surfaces.  I have added some paint but plan to explore the rust & verdigris in my garden studio over the coming weeks.


I plan to allow myself January 2024 to dedicate to painting & experimenting.  Our gallery will be closed for the month so plenty of opportunity to 'play with purpose' as Dan would say!



If the course is something you fancied having a go at yourself it is running again next year & you can find out more information here  I can really recommend the Newlyn School of Art as a venue & Dan is certainly an excellent tutor.


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