Following our attendance at the acrylic course, my friend Andy recklessly threw down the gauntlet. The idea was that together we would choose a scene to paint in acrylics. On an appointed day, we’d set the timer for 3 hours and paint simultaneously, in ‘real time’. Since there are a couple of hundred miles between our houses, we would convene on FaceTime at the end of the three hours and compare our paintings.
Well, how could I resist? It seemed like an excellent opportunity to get back on the horse after the acrylic course, and we’d no doubt have a laugh comparing our approaches at the end. We were both going to try for a less detailed, more impressionistic style than usual.
Andy kindly shortlisted a few photos, and together we chose a colourful Hong Kong night-time street scene. I’ve tried to find the original photographer, to give credit, but it’s not been easy and I’m still not sure I’ve managed it. (There are so many reblogs and shares on the internet it’s a bit of a minefield to be honest). Anyway, I’d like to extend our thanks to whoever originally shot the image – it was tremendous fun to work with.
On the morning of the challenge Andy and I had a quick FaceTime to compare how we were feeling about getting started (excited, and a little nervous) and then signed off to get on with the task we’d set ourselves. This was the first painting I was going to make with my new Golden heavy body paints. I had my fingers crossed for a decent experience.
I picked a 16×12 inch canvas board. Knowing where to start was tricky. Having chosen turquoise underpainting, I then plunged in with a bunch of good darks for starters. It wasn’t long before I realised that it was becoming hard to tell what was what, so I needed to add in some reds to give more shape to the buildings. Very soon I added the beginnings of the light areas, and then over the course of the next couple of hours repeatedly returned to the darks, mid-tones and lights adding more definition as the picture evolved. It felt quite haphazard. I normally paint quite fast, and after about 2.5 hours I realised that my strokes were becoming increasingly fiddly, and that it was time to stop.
After the 3 hours was up, we reconvened at our computers. The reveal was a strangely tense moment. Andy had taken a slightly different approach to me, choosing an A2 canvas and a warmer, mellower range of colours. He is always much more methodical than me, and had blocked in his buildings with beautiful luminous colour on top of his underpainting, but he needed more time to finish the picture. Interestingly, we both had struggled with the bottom right of the picture, largely because on the reference photo it was hard to see exactly what was there.
It was so interesting to be able to see how we’d both tackled the same subject, our colour choices and differing techniques, and where we’d chosen to bring out or downplay elements of the scene. Andy later completed his painting, and I’m very pleased that he’s agreed to let me share it on this blog (mine’s on the left, Andy’s is on the right). At the end of the process I felt totally spent, but to be honest, pretty happy at what I’d achieved.
This shared endeavour was very rewarding, as was the opportunity to see how someone else had approached the same subject, and the resulting similarities and differences. Suffice it to say, we’re already planning the next challenge!