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Ronnie Ireland

13th January 2024

Ronnie Ireland presented a fun and informative demo on portraits in oils, to 60 thoroughly enthralled members and guests.

He used water-based paints that he mixes with purchased mediums.  He warned against mixing the paints with just water, which does not produce a very pleasant texture to work with.  However, ingeniously the brushes can be washed out in water.  He had 12 colours set out on his palette, arranged from light to dark.

On a prepared canvas, he created a portrait of a seated lady from a photo.  With no guide lines or pre-drawing this perfect, resting lady appeared from the darkness.  Along the way, he gave good advice on using photo editing software to manipulate colour, tonality and composition for your own purposes. Our favourite Ronnie quote: "You use the photograph, it doesn't use you".  He kept the painting soft by sometimes dragging the background into the figure and only putting in detail at the end, "finding character" as he worked.   

Ronnie continuously moved across the whole painting, sometimes working on the face, sometimes the body and sometimes the background.  He emphasised making decisions about where the darks and lights and hard and soft edges should go, bringing it all together.  He demonstrated with an example, that where you make the eyes look gives a particular character.  He decided on closed eyes for this portrait of a lady relaxing in a chair (was this before or after the party?)

It was an inspiring demo and encouraged all there to have a go at this technique and as he said, "see where it takes you".  SD & SE

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Initial soft light and dark tones

Where do the eyes look?

Ronnie giving tips on 'finding character'

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At the end of the demo

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Ronnie sent us this photo of his finished portrait "Woman with Closed Eyes".

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