Task 9: Colour Scales and Still Life

TASK: Understanding your media and how to mix/use colours

1) Make some painted tonal scales.
2) Make a colour still life painting incorporating appropriate colour tones and universal forms.

In my previous tutorial I used Oil Pastels. For this one, I will demonstrate powder pastels

Follow the link to my earlier blog to expand on this task:  CLICK HERE 

Task 8 looked at colour theory and ideas on how to mix colours. We will build on this with colour scales in this Task, but we will apply both to our still life art work.

You want a still life that considers composition, colour combinations and incorporates a range of universal forms. Think about colour theory to see which colours are going to appear in the art work and what mood this would create. Will it be an Analogous colour scheme perhaps? It is up to you. Also, use colour theory to help mix the colours and to create the tonal scales. Will the red objects incorporate oranges and yellows into the lighter areas? Or will a complementary colour give the shadows? Remember from Task 8 to try adding complementary colours to make paint/pastels darker, instead of black. Black can flatten an image if overused. Complementary colours are the ones opposite your chosen colour on the colour wheel.

How many objects shall I draw? One object is fine, but maybe 3 will give you the best arrangement. The Rule of Odds works well, so if you combine this with 3 different forms of objects, you will create a nice set-up.

Think about what colours you need first and do some colour scales so that you can plan the tones before you begin. How will you mix the colours to get what you need? How will you create the brightest highlights and the darkest shadows? Which colours would these be?

This task is about testing, experimenting and applying knowledge of colour. Trial a variety of combinations and you will see how the various colours used will impact on the overall feel and look of your art.


Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART

Task 8 Colour Theory

What is colour theory?

If colour theory is simplified, it can be broken down into 3 parts- The colour wheel, colour value, and colour schemes. Each part of colour theory builds on the previous. Understanding each section of colour theory fully, will help you better understand its importance in the creation of art.

To help with this task, here is a resource to use:

Colour Wheel & Theory


The Colour Wheel

The colour wheel was developed by Sir Isaac Newton by taking the colour spectrum and bending it into a circle. If you follow around the colour wheel, you will find the same order of the colour spectrum- red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo (blue-violet), and violet.

In the resource you will find a 12 piece circle to print, or create a circle by hand with 12 equal sections ready to add your colours.

The colour wheel is made up of three different types of colours – Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary.

The primary colours are red, yellow, and blue.

They are called primary for a couple of reasons.

First, no two colours can be mixed to create a primary colour. In other words, primary colours can only be created through the use of natural pigments.

Secondly, all other colours found on the colour wheel can be created by mixing primary colours together.

The secondary colours are orange, green, and purple.  Secondary colours are created by mixing equal parts of any two primary colours.

Yellow and blue will give you green.

Red and blue will create purple (violet).

Red and yellow will give you orange.

Tertiary colours are created by mixing equal parts of a secondary colour and a primary colour together.

There are six tertiary colours- red-purple, red-orange, blue-green, yellow-green, blue-purple, and yellow-orange.

Notice that the proper way to refer to tertiary colours is by listing the primary colour first and the secondary colour, second.

Colour Theory: Colour Values

The second part of colour theory deals with colour values.  Value is the darkness or lightness of a colour.

Adding white to a colour produces a tint…

Adding black produces a shade…


Colour Theory: Colour Schemes

Monochromatic- literally means one (mono) colour (chroma).
This colour scheme is made up of one colour and its shades and tints.

Analogous colours are colours that are next to each other on the colour wheel.  Analogous colours can be dramatic. Eg. Blue, blue-green, green, and yellow-green; red, red-purple, purple, blue-purple. They also produce harmony.

Complementary colours– are colours found directly across from each other on the colour wheel.  Complementary colour scheme provides strong contrast.  Eg. Blue and orange, red and green, yellow-green and red-purple.

There are many others, but if you learn the basics and look out for them in artists’ works, you will start to notice how the choice of colours and colour schemes impacts the art you are viewing. In time, you can apply colour schemes to create effects and atmospheres are you hoping to create within your paintings.


Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART

Task 7: Tonal Portrait Drawing

A portrait is a painting, photograph, sculpture, or other artistic representation of a person, in which the face and its expression is predominant. The intent is to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of the person.

This task is about creating a portrait. In earlier posts I talk more about the ‘self portrait’ and how to create an artwork that has some personal meaning and content.

This time however I will keep it simple.

Today portraiture is a healthy and vital discipline in the art world.

While there are quite a few non-traditional approaches out there, many artists are returning to traditional techniques to address contemporary issues, and more people are painting portraits than ever. So with this in mind, I will return to the Renaissance to help you to start discovering how the masters became the artists we have all heard of today.

Just think in those days when amazing Ancient Greek and Roman sculptures began to be excavated, how excited artists would have been!? To see marble, carved so perfectly from so many years before- they finally saw they had a lot to learn.

The Renaissance is known as ‘born again’ time… everyone got hooked on Greek Mythology as if the Greeks has been ‘born again’, but this time, in Italy.

In simple terms, many artists were copying the raw emotion within expressions found on these sculptures. This, as well as copying the perfect proportions of these figures, helped them to learn about drawing the human form.

They were learning from the best… the Ancient Greeks!

Below is a resource of images that could be used to draw from. In my demonstration I use charcoal to draw ‘The Dying Gaul’. I think from drawing sculptures in real life is the best way, but having great tonal photographs is the next best thing.

Resource: Portraiture-from the beginning

You can learn a lot about the stories of the characters found in Ancient Sculpture, but also looking at the Renaissance sculptors themselves and their amazing work, can help to teach you about proportion and capturing emotion in your drawings.

Michelangelo’s David for instance. That intense stare of David, the detailed veins and muscles that can be seen in his hand, chest and neck… by observing and drawing from such art works will help you to build up your technical skills.

So take your pick and get exploring!


Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART

Task 6: Portrait Photography

Using the natural light which shines in through a window is a great way to get soft light onto an indoor subject which costs nothing and is often overlooked.


Johannes Vermeer was a Dutch painter who specialised in domestic interior scenes of middle-class life.  You are most surely going to recognise his famous ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ below… among many skills, and amazing use of his media, you can see that a lot of success in his work is also down to the positioning of the light. See many more of his works to see how natural light casts great shadows and provides focal points to his art.



Pay close attention to the quality of the light as well as how you are positioning your subject in relation to the window light. For this task, you want to create great shadows! This will give you a great image to test out your tonal shading skills when drawing the image.

Having a face in profile, or straight on, can test knowledge of proportion and observation- so trial several positions to get the angle and shadow that makes it interesting for you to observe.

You can take your photography one step further…

Quote from Wikipedia:

portrait is a painting, photograph, sculpture, or other artistic representation of a person, in which the face and its expression is predominant. The intent is to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of the person.

The last sentence here might catch your attention… how can you achieve personality and mood of the person you are going to draw? Well the photo is a good start as you can trial expressions and trial different backgrounds and environments. You could really intensify the shadows and make some extreme contrasts to give you a certain mood or atmosphere to the image.

In trialing your compositions, lighting and expressions, you can get very creative and have an image that, when drawn, tests not only your drawing skills and observation, but also adds meaning and purpose to the art.

Great examples of this can be seen with many artists, all of whom want to share a story or interpretation of their personalities when doing a self portrait.

One of the favourites is clearly Frida Kahlo:

She was a Mexican artist who painted many portraits, self-portraits, and works inspired by the nature and artifacts of Mexico. Inspired by the country’s popular culture, she employed a naïve, folk art style to explore questions of identity, post-colonialism, gender, class, and race in Mexican society.

Her paintings often had strong autobiographical elements and mixed realism with fantasy.



Do think about what you want to get out of your drawing as you are exploring the photography… a test of observation and tonal shading? Or, as well as this, purpose and meaning to showcase the person you are drawing?

Photography will help with the ideas!


Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART

Task 5: Shiny Materials

OBJECTIVE: Understanding other material textures and applying tone.

TASK: Make a drawing of a knife, fork and spoon, using either charcoal or pencil.


You will find my earlier demonstrations of this task in our earlier blogs.

Here is the resource link: Cutlery

And also the demonstration:  https://youtu.be/zug8Z879R84


But this time I will do a different variation to expand on the idea of observational drawing of shiny objects, like cutlery. To do this, I will demonstrate black paper and a method called highlight drawing.

For this, I will be using chalks, but coloured pencils and crayons could also be used. This will help you to see tone in the reverse and use your observation skills to pick out the main areas of tone.



Before I started on the drawing for this tutorial, the first thing I did was set up a composition just a few feet away: observing from real life is essential. If using a lamp for your lighting, I would turn off all the other lights in the room to increase contrast and clarify each shadow. It’s extremely important to make good lighting for yourself when you’re drawing indoors. If you don’t have that strong directional light, you won’t be able to see the shadows and highlights and your drawing will most likely turn out grey and visually flat.

Something you might like to try when observing the initial contours of your set- up is to squint with one eye when you draw! This helps because it eliminates depth perception and makes the subject you’re drawing appear flat. Be consistent in which eye you use, though; if you switch eyes you’ll see the objects move slightly, which can mess you up.

Spending too much time looking at your paper—instead of your subject—won’t work, and it’s easy to understand why. If your eyes are always on your paper, you won’t ever be seeing what you’re supposed to be drawing. So when you draw or paint, flick your eyes back and forth and never let them rest for too long in one place. With practice, your eyes will do this naturally, but it’s important if you’re just starting out to do it purposefully at first, to build up the habit.

Erase when you see something wrong! Don’t just leave your mistakes there—fix them! If you can see a problem early on, your finished drawing will have it too. By then you won’t want to go all the way back and change everything, so get it right before you’re too far in. What a lot of people don’t understand is that the most important part of any drawing is the initial line drawing. So always erase if you need to, because once you’ve got a good line drawing, you’re home free.

When the drawing is almost finished, I usually take a breather, walk around, and then come back to finish it.  After being away for a while, you’ll be able see if there are mistakes or places that should be completed but somehow got overlooked. Fix those, and at the same time use your eraser to pick out the brightest highlights in your drawing.


I will demonstrate in our next Facebook Live lesson so I hope to see you there and finish our task on still life observational drawing.


Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART

Task 4: Graphite Still Life Drawing

Mastering observational drawing

By nature most artists strive to create illusions.

In this task we will be manipulating values and using what we learned earlier on contour drawing, to create the illusion of form using Graphite.


First Objective:

-Use Contour lines to create the basic shape

End goal:
-Recognize and use value and colour to create the “illusion” of form.


1.  Reviewing contour drawings for a couple of days. Make sure that you understand;
-What a contour is
-Understand the different types of Contours

2. You should draw objects using contour techniques for a couple of days. Make sure that each drawing has a specific goal or benchmark. Look at my Contour drawing lesson from Task 1 to help

3. Practice, Practice, Practice!

4. Address the following questions and check you understand:
-What is value?
-Why do we need value?
-What does it help an artist achieve?


We are going to draw drinks cans. The basic cylinder form is further challenged by the details on a drinks can.

So, to start, you need to try to resist adding tone at first and get the contours perfect on your can.

What you need:

  1. A tonal photograph of the can in the perfect light and angle
  2. The actual can set up in front of you to observe from directly
  3. Your tonal scale in graphite ready to use for shading
  4. Quality white paper

Focusing on what is in front of you, draw the contours of the can (the outlines).


I will show examples in the live demonstration of how I go about this, but also I will challenge this task further…I am going to crush the can!!


Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART

Task 3: Universal forms in Charcoal

Task 2: Draw each of the universal forms (Cone Cylinder, Cube and Sphere) using Charcoal to create the illusion of 3-Dimensional forms with highlights and shadows

A wide range of artists use charcoal to create incredible artworks. We are going to build up tonal drawing knowledge further and also see how this medium can be used to great effect.


Georgia O’Keeffe:

Joel Colo:

Leonardo Da Vinci:


Using Charcoal

I will demonstrate a couple of kinds of charcoal for this task.

Compressed charcoal is a powdered charcoal that has been mixed with gum binder and then compressed into sticks. To determine how hard or soft that compressed block will be depends on the amount of binder. Charcoal Pencils are created in the same way and you can use all these types for this task- A mixture is best!

Vine charcoal is another kind, made from burning pieces of wood into a harder or softer product. This type of charcoal stick tends to be messier than compressed charcoal but can give you great results. Powdered charcoal is exactly what it sounds like – charcoal in powder form that is great for covering large areas.


To begin we are essential going to work backwards 🙂

Cover your page with charcoal and use tissue to smudge the charcoal into a nice smooth base on the page. I would recommend using paper like brown parcel paper or something of a mid-tone with texture to it. Smooth white paper doesn’t work the same.

Be sure to put newspaper down to catch all that dust!

Try your best not to rest your hand on the page when you are drawing as charcoal smudges easily.

Using a putty rubber you can begin to mark away the highlights of the form you wish to draw…then slowly work back in the dark areas of shadow to build up your tonal range (see task 2 for more information on tonal scales). To achieve a bright highlight to showcase the full tonal range, you can use white chalk or soft pastel to really extend to those brightest tones.

Join me for a demonstration soon and I am sure you will be excited to get going with a charcoal drawing-It is one of my favourites 🙂


Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART


Task 2: Graphite Universal Forms

This task helps to understand a tonal scale which is needed for tonal drawing.

The resource will help you to get a tonal scale set up before taking on some practice shading.

Click here: Tonal Scale and Universal forms



Adding tonal shading is adding illusion to a 3D form and refers to the lightness or darkness of something. This could be a shade or how dark or light a colour appears. We create tones when shining light onto an object. The parts of the object on which the light is strongest are called highlights and the darker areas are called shadows. When first learning to draw, it is important to first see the contours of your form accurately (covered in Task 1). Then, you learn to see the highlights and the shadows.


The pencil shading exercise demonstrated in our Facebook group is ‘graduated tone’. This is a drawing technique which artists use to create a strong sense of space and form. To be able to draw in either graphite pencil or colour pencils, it is a crucial skill to develop.

  1. Use a range of grade pencils (2H to 6B for example) for your shading. Lighter, harder graded pencils (H, 2H etc.) will help blend the highlights, whilst the softer pencils will add real depth to your darkest tones.
  2. Start by shading the area you wish to be dark (the shadows) and slowly build up the tone. As you work towards the light, gradually ease the pressure, then switch to a harder grade pencil, until you can no longer see the mark each graphite pencil is making-it will blend the tones without the need to get smudging!
  3. You then patiently repeat this process several times, building up a depth to the shading, adjusting any irregular areas and trying to keep the tonal changes as smooth as possible until you achieve the variation and intensity of tone that you desire. Ideally, all forms you are shading will showcase the full tonal scale to give it the illusion of being 3D.

Join me for a live demonstration soon on our facebook group 🙂


Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART


Task 1: How to Observe

One day students were asked to copy a Picasso drawing upside down.
That small experiment, more than anything else, showed that something
very different is going on during the act of drawing. To everyone’s surprise the
finished drawings were so extremely well done that the class were asked, “How
come you can draw upside down when you can’t draw right-side up?”


The students responded,
“Upside down, we didn’t know what we
were drawing.”


You have two brains: a left and a right. Modern brain scientists now know that your left brain is your verbal and rational brain; it thinks serially and reduces its thoughts to numbers, letters and words…
Your right brain is your nonverbal and intuitive brain; it thinks in patterns, or pictures, composed of ‘whole things,’ and does not comprehend reductions, either numbers, letters, or words.


Drawing is not really very difficult. Seeing is the problem, or, to be more specific, shifting to a particular way of seeing. You may not believe me at this moment. You may feel that you are seeing things just fine and that it’s the drawing that is hard. But the opposite is true.

Broadly speaking, except for the degree of complexity, all drawing is the same. One drawing task is no harder than any other. The same skills and ways of seeing are involved in drawing still-life setups, landscapes, the figure, random objects, even imaginary subjects, and portrait drawing. It’s all the same thing: You see what’s out there (imaginary subjects are “seen” in the mind’s eye) and you draw what you see.


What is the purpose of Upside Down Drawing?

The purpose of this kind of practice is to force your left (thinking) side of the brain to give up identifying what you draw. So, even if you have a little voice that tells you the name of features or things, – ignore it! Instead, focus on a specific line and concentrate on its direction and where it lies in relation to the lines
around it.
If you do have trouble with matching things up as you come to the end of the drawing, this is because it is out of proportion. That doesn’t matter, just connect it all as best as you can because the benefit remains.

So begin by trialling this technique and drawing this horse, upside down:

You will find the horse, and the more challenging Picasso line drawing, on this following resource so you can print them and then copy what you see. To make things even easier, draw a grid over your image and also onto your page- then you can copy each square in turn…but remember, upside down.

Click here: upside down

I’m sure when you are more aware of using the right side of your brain, you will find your observation skills significantly improve. Remember that everything you need to know in order to draw the image is right in front of your eyes. All of the information is right there, making it easy for you. Don’t make it complicated. It really is as simple as that.


If you feel confused by a large picture, try placing paper over the picture and just reveal one portion at a time. You’ll only need to do this once or twice. When your confidence builds, you won’t even notice the whole picture, you will
only be seeing the lines you are copying. This may not work for everyone… do what feels right for you to ‘simplify’ what you are seeing.

At some point, the drawing may begin to seem like an interesting, even fascinating, puzzle. When this happens, you will be “really drawing,” meaning that you have successfully shifted to R-mode and you are seeing clearly. This state is easily broken. For example, if someone were to come into the room and ask, “How are you doing?” your verbal system would be reactivated and your focus and concentration would be over. This is also true if you have the TV on in the background or music playing with recognisable lyrics.

Copy the picture just as you see it and don’t be tempted to turn it the right side up at any time. You can start anywhere on your page that you
feel comfortable with. It’s fine if you wish to erase. Sometimes our judgment is a little bit out


Simple isn’t it? This technique helps to set you on the path of seeing the way an artist sees! That, in turn, helps you properly illustrate whatever you want. Upside down drawing develops your ability to see only lines and shapes and their relation to each other which is the ultimate aim for all artists 🙂



Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART



Task 17: Sculpture

To do a sculpture and explore this genre of art, students should begin with researching a sculptor. This way you can learn a lot more and discover the process to uncovering your own unique idea. Some students will also use a photograph they have taken to produce a 3D response to it. So it is up to you… but for this article I will provide some inspiration for the task using Andy Goldsworthy.


Andy Goldsworthy is a brilliant British artist who collaborates with nature to make his creations. Besides England and Scotland, his work has been created at the North Pole, in Japan, the Australian Outback, in the U.S. and many others.

The underlying tension of a lot of my art is to try and look through the surface appearance of things. Inevitably, one way of getting beneath the surface is to introduce a hole, a window into what lies below. I enjoy the freedom of just using my hands and “found” tools–a sharp stone, the quill of a feather, thorns. I take the opportunities each day offers: if it is snowing, I work with snow, at leaf-fall it will be with leaves; a blown-over tree becomes a source of twigs and branches. I stop at a place or pick up a material because I feel that there is something to be discovered. Here is where I can learn

Andy Goldsworthy

He is known for his site-specific installations involving natural materials and the passage of time. Working as both sculptor and photographer, Goldsworthy crafts his installations out of rocks, ice, leaves, or branches, knowing that the landscape will change. He then carefully documents the ephemeral collaborations with nature through photography.

Goldsworthy regards his creations as transient, or ephemeral. He photographs each piece once right after he makes it. His goal is to understand nature by directly participating in nature as intimately as he can.

All of his pieces are designed to disappear as nature takes its course: Ice melts, wind blows, and rain falls. These factors shape how viewers experience Goldsworthy’s constructions over the course of their temporary life spans.




Here is an example of student sketchbook work. You should begin by creating pages of inspirational researching, annotating what has been learned and analysing the artist you are studying. Then you can move on to formulating your own ideas and responses.


You need to be able to research an artist and present your findings in a creative way. This can be done digitally but don’t just cut and paste text and add images. Make your work interesting and in-keeping with the artist you are studying.

I think Goldsworthy is a great starting point for sculpture, and you can discover something amazing very local to you! Work with the environment you have to create great art.


Here is a resource to follow to produce a creative process for this task:

Andy Goldsworthy


Enjoy exploring sculpture to complete a rounded experience and introduction to ‘learning to draw a paint’.

We will return to task 1 and continue to build on our drawing and painting skills very soon!


Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART

Task 16: Mixed Media

Mixed media art refers to a visual art form that combines a variety of media in a single artwork. For example, if you draw with ink, then paint over it with watercolors, then add some highlights in colored pencil – that’s mixed media!

The use of mixed media began around 1912 with the cubist collages and constructions of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, and has become widespread as artists developed increasingly open attitudes to the media of art. Essentially art can be made of anything or any combination of things.

Picasso and Braque were the first artists to put into question whether art could consist of pre-made materials. Collage questioned the separation between art and life—ideas so many artists of the 20th century—such as Duchamp, but also the Dadaists and Neo-Dadaartists like Robert Rauschenberg—would later also take-up.

Pablo Picasso, ‘Bottle of Vieux Marc, Glass, Guitar and Newspaper’ 1913

Pablo Picasso
Bottle of Vieux Marc, Glass, Guitar and Newspaper 1913


This task asks you to use your own photos for inspiration. This gives you a personal touch to the work and makes it increasingly unique. Recreating elements of that photo, or even recreating a previous artwork you have done, could be how you begin this task.

Everyone should start by thinking about the surface which is going to be used for the mixed media art work. If you are thinking of producing a painting, then adding other mediums to it possibly, then don’t just paint or draw on white cartridge paper and nothing else. Not that there is anything wrong with cartridge paper, but being able to experiment on various other textures and surfaces, will add to your dynamic variety of work. Painting onto something unexpected brings with it differing colours, textures, marks and irregularities of its own. So do try it as a starting point.

I am going to explore fibre art to open your eyes to a totally new way of approaching your art work. But you can use any media you wish 🙂


You need a theme… it can be food, nature, portraits… or a chosen artist like those mentioned above, or, Klimt, Chuck Close, Frida Kahlo, Hundertwasser – the reason I pluck these names out of my head is that I’m thinking ‘colours’ and maybe something abstract. Hundertwasser used foils and other mediums in his work so it is great to see how he did this. You will find many mixed media artists but you don’t have to find influence in this particular style of art, maybe just the patterns and textures in other art works which you then recreate yourself.

Going abstract could free you up when doing this art work as you have no pressure of trying to make it realistic… but go with your interests and choose a theme and artist that really interests you.

So for my example, I could combine both the ideas of ‘Nature’ and the artist ‘Klimt’.

So first I need to draw up some patterns and ideas from his artwork, so I look at Gustav Klimt’s work to get some inspiration-some are close-ups:

I can combine the colours and patterns found in these works with my own nature photos; by collecting fabrics, scraps of papers, wrappers and anything else I can find, it will help me to piece together my experimental mixed media. I have picked up on the use of metallic, bold colours of Klimt, and this is helping me to decide on my colour scheme. Also metallics can be found in a variety of materials so I will begin collecting with this in mind.

Find out what drawing and painting mediums will go onto the surfaces you are going to use. For fabric, I would hold it in an embroidery hoop to stretch the fabric firm so that I have a sturdy base on which to draw. I will pick out the textures and patterns I see in my photos to see how I can recreate these… I am not really thinking of creating a ‘flower’ but my abstract mixed media will have been inspired by them.

Patterns from flowers:

By experimenting with all of my images, I can now bring the two themes together to create something more unique and personal to me. The key to successful ideas is good research. Collect and study many aspects of your chosen theme to develop ideas into something great!

Here are some examples of how others may have used a range of materials to create their mixed media:


Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART

Task 15: Painting your Landscape

TASK: Learn from a Landscape artist and trial new techniques;

1) Look at the work of a landscape artist: write about the artist and evaluate their work and then compare it to your own.

2) Paint your landscape


There are many artists to look at to gain inspiration from. Start easy and just experiment. Remember from our previous discussion that in addition to maybe wanting to represent or replicate a place of beauty, some artists opt to create these artworks to explore light, colour and texture. You may use the scene as a way to tell a story, illustrate an idea or conceptualise a metaphor.

Your chosen artist doesn’t have to be well-known or famous at all – any artist you choose will give you things to learn and draw inspiration from.

A quick list t start:

J. W. M. Turner

Claude Monet

Paul Cezanne

Vincent Van Gogh

Scott Naismith

Clair Bremner

Erin Hanson

Yukari Kaihori

Adem Pota

Stevnn Hall

You will have a photo from the previous task, so jump straight in and apply different techniques you have learned up to now. Think about composition and where your focal points are. Think about colours and do some colour scales and colour schemes to get you thinking about your range of tones (this will also stem from the artist you choose and maybe you are going abstract or impressionist with your style?).

Our previous lessons can help with any genre of art you wish to study; keep building on your experience of applying this knowledge to your work.

Think about perspective and use your observation skills to sketch in the key features to guide you when you start applying the paint.  Using a 3B pencil sketch out the image to work from. Don’t worry if it isn’t completely accurate; it is just a guide to get you started.

Oil and Acrylics…

You may wish to apply a coloured ground first. In doing this, it will help to give you a unified tone to work onto and give you a nice under glow of colour for your painting. Trial a yellow ochre ground just to see what happens to your colour and final effect. It is also more inspiring and helpful to paint on a different colour to white, I find 🙂

To begin applying the paint, I would use colours to show where the darkest and lightest areas are first. I’d avoid black but again it depends on the style and the picture you have in front of you. Maybe Burnt Umber & Titanium White establish the extremities of your picture. You can squint your eyes at the image to help to distinguish each area rather than getting hung up on the details.

Keep your water clean and have kitchen roll to hand to wipe off your brushes…it’s always better to have more water and change it regularly, than to use the same pot. If it gets mucky, then think where all that dirt in your water will go when using your colours! When you are mixing you want to get a nice clean colour. Even if you are using brown, it’s still worth it to keep your water clean, it’s good professional working habits.

You may wish to use watercolours or another media too. The idea is to keep building on your art experiences and experiment with unknown mediums at this stage. It doesn’t matter if it does not work first time.

Post your efforts and get some feedback to learn from the areas that need improving. 🙂


Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART



Task 14: Landscape Photography

We are going to learn a bit about landscapes so that we can prepare for our next task, which of course is to paint our own landscape 🙂

Anyone who has a camera can capture great scenery but only a photographer can connect emotionally with the environment in order to express something personal. What we want to try to achieve here is something personal that is right there in front of you.


Prior to the 18th century, landscape was painted only as a backdrop for its main subject. But later on in the century, artists such as John Constable and William Turner had started romanticising the environment, using it as a THE MAIN subject in paintings.


William Turner

John Constable


Photography was invented at a time when western cultures were travelling! It was used as a medium for documenting how amazing the natural environment was, and it usually included the small details.

The first photographic movement was born a couple of years after Constable and Turner and was known as the “pictorial photography”.

Pictorial photographers believed that their field is more than just an objective, mechanical media. Photography was not just about the information contained by the images they produced, but rather, about the effect and the mood they translate.

The break from pictorial photography was started by a group called the F.64. Some of its members included prominent photographers such as Edward Weston and Ansel Adams who produced images using the smallest apertures (f.64) and on large format cameras. This gave them maximum sharpness and detail in their work.

Group f.64 photographers concentrated on landscape photography—notable examples include:

Adams’ Winter Yosemite Valley

This group created images that were close-ups of items from the natural environment, such as plants and pieces of wood. Many of their subjects highlighted the photographer’s creative intuition and ability to create aesthetic order out of nature’s chaos. Members of Group f.64 concentrated on the ordinary object seen in extraordinary ways.



Industrial subjects, shapes, and surfaces are prominent in the work of Edward Weston, Edwards, Lavenson, and Noskowiak, while Adams and many of these same artists were drawn to the geometric and cubist shapes of New Mexican pueblo architecture.


Edward Weston


The aim of landscape photography is to express the emotion or mood in a landscape at a particular point in time. How do you capture an image to meet this purpose?

Landscape photography is not just about the beauty of nature. It is the depiction of  the natural landscape as seen from an urban dweller’s point of view. Landscape images now depict alternative realities. They can be used as a political tool showing the differing values of society.

The traditional way in which we see landscapes has changed due to the development of technology- this has affected our world, and thus our photography. It could be cluttered and maybe not as harmonious as it once was.

Landscape photography is a way for photographers to explore their personal relationship with their environment, a way to interact and respond to your surroundings.

A great time to take photographs is at dusk, not in the middle of the night. During this time, the remaining light of the day will cast colourful shadows on the landscape.

We all know how important composition is when it comes to delivering your message through images- we have spoken about this many times before. In photography, the horizontal line is one of the most powerful elements you can use to compose your shot.

Your eyes see landscapes in a horizontal format, so this is usually how a landscape photograph is taken. You must seek a great vantage point and experimenting with many shots will help you initially to find the best one.

Putting the horizontal line in the middle of the frame is best avoided (remember the rule of thirds from our earlier lessons?) and you should also consider what your foreground will be. Will it be the sky? Or perhaps there is another interesting element?

If you decide to remove the horizon on the image, then you are creating a closed landscape. Creating a sense of depth is more difficult with a closed image, but it isn’t impossible to achieve. It can create great textures and another, less traditional take on a landscape image.

There are many more techniques to try and think about, such as your use of lighting or the use of a wide angle lens. Be creative and you’ll get a magical shot.

It’s not about travelling to somewhere amazing… it is about seeing what is amazing right there in your own environment.


So this task is to explore with landscape photography and capture a great shot with meaning and purpose. We can then prepare to paint from your image 🙂


Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART

Task 13: Learning from an Artist

Learning from an artist is a practice we should engage in early on when learning to draw and paint. Not only for technical reasons, but to see their practice as a process of conceptual enquiry and of making meaning.

Seeing the practice of an artist is not just to see which media they use, but more about the approaches that they take; it is about learning about the methods of investigation. The kinds of questions you can find yourself asking are then about what you want to find out when starting an art project.

Interrogating the concerns that preoccupy you, rather than simply becoming a maker of images is important for the development of an artist. You may not identify yourself later on exclusively with a particular medium or technique, but see how you can engage in creative investigation and problem solving, a process that culminates in artwork. Whilst you may be proficient at ceramics or digital photography, you will learn to utilise your skills in order to articulate ideas.

Skills and expertise of an artist includes active questioning and enquiry.  Playfulness and risk-taking are central and this has been explored in our previous tasks, but also now become increasingly mindful of accommodating the unexpected. Many artists value curiosity, imaginative response, open-mindedness and the freedom to explore concurrent strands of interest. They see that productive failure occupies an important place in their practice and the spontaneity of what they do, and also using intuition, are important. Looking, reflecting and critical thinking are equally significant.

I tell my students often to slow down. Not pushing forwards just to consume and move on, but to notice and reflect on what they see and feel and begin to process it. Art develops over time, and students of art need to adopt an approach to artworks which allows them to move from recognition to analysis. This will encourage visual and intellectual interpretive processes to happen as you are working. This task is going to support you with learning how to do this even more.

So to tackle this task, multiple ideas are going to be brought together to build your skills, confidence and knowledge to interpret art for yourselves. Looking at an artist’s work enables you as learners to draw on your own personal experiences, gain understanding, develop new knowledge and articulate your individual ideas.

Think about the different ways you may approach your art. Students doing an art history degree vs somebody who was doing a fine art degree.

The art historian may want to collect meaning and take it to the work whereas the fine art student may want to go to the work and unlock what was there standing in front of them.

It is this understanding of art which enables us to go through the process of an art project.

So, choosing your artist to learn from! There are just so many! One of the first articles I posted was of the many artists that could give you a starting point:

Inspiring Artists

Another idea could be to write to and meet a living artist from your area. Ask them questions about their process and techniques. This kind of first hand research will teach you so much about how art can be approached.

Look at these very famous artists to get some basic understanding of what they do:


Vetheuil in the Fog (1879)

Claude Monet

His Vetheuil in the Fog is among his finest works, offering a subtle, albeit distinct impression of a figural form. As was characteristic of many of Monet’s paintings, he applied his brush rather quickly to the canvas in order to capture the exact image he wanted before the sunlight shifted or faded away altogether.


The Scream (1893)

Edvard Munch

Expressionist artists often employed swirling, swaying, and exaggeratedly executed brushstrokes in the depiction of their subjects. These techniques were meant to convey the turgid emotional state of the artist reacting to the anxieties of the modern world.


Starry night, 1889

Van Gogh

The iconic tortured artist strove to convey his emotional and spiritual state in each of his artworks. Each painting provides a direct sense of how the artist viewed each scene, interpreted through his eyes, mind and heart.


Now I want to take Van Gogh further as an example of how to truly begin to gain inspiration, and to further your skills, by looking at his art. Before engaging in painting, read up online about his works, where he got his inspirations and why he used the technique he did. In learning about the artist, we truly can appreciate the artworks that have become so famous.


If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.

Vincent Van Gogh



Here is a starting point with some facts on the artist Van Gogh:

Click on the link below

Van Gogh


Getting the Style:

It seems the individual artists now labelled as Expressionists largely made it up as they went along, following their instincts as to what colour to use, when and where.

The ‘breakthrough’ was that colour didn’t have to be realistic. While reference is made to colours having symbolic value, again it seems to me that this symbolism was largely determined by individual artists, and not governed by a rigid set of pre-existing rules.


This detail from Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait With a Straw Hat and Artist’s Smock clearly shows how he used pure colour with very defined, directional brush strokes.

When you view the painting from close up, you see the individual brush strokes and colours; when you step back they blend visually. The ‘trick’ as a painter is to be familiar enough with your colours and tones for this to be effective.


To build up to producing an artwork/portrait in this style, first replicate and learn from what you see in front of you. Here are some close-ups of Van Gogh’s work to draw ideas from. You will expand on your knowledge of the style, Van Gogh’s technique and also understand the process of creating your own artwork as a result of investigation.


When this experimentation is complete, take on a full scale artwork or portrait of your own, utilising what was learned throughout this process. It doesn’t matter which artist you use, the process is always the same!

The final job will be to anlayse and compare your own works to that of the artist you have investigated. This is a big task here, but it is worth the time as this process is one you will return to again and again in your own artistic development.


So TASK 13:

  1. Find an artist and learn about them and their style – get into their head!
  2. Do some experimental trials of their style. Learn their technique and approach to an artwork
  3. Complete a final artwork which is influenced by what you have investigated
  4. Analyse and compare your artworks.  Reflect on the process you have been through to see how your own individuality and spontaneity is progressing


Have fun!


Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART

Task 12: Painting a Self Portrait

Painting your own portrait is an exercise in truthfulness. It will force you to examine yourself in a way you normally wouldn’t. Creating a painting of your photos, explored in Task 11, is a great opportunity to think beyond the paint, and to represent another dimension to your art..

As the artist in charge, you DO get the unique opportunity of painting yourself into a situation or setting of your choice, exactly as you would like to be remembered.

And whether you see yourself as strong, wise, youthful, happy, sad, fulfilled (or anything else) art is a powerful medium for spreading that message both to others AND ourselves.

A self-portrait can be so much more than just a reflection of your physical appearance—and the more you put into it, the better it will be.


Here is our latest FB live video showcasing some ideas for this task:


Technically, what you are trialling here is how to use your paints. To mix skin tones, and to work with observation of your chosen photograph, will stretch and challenge your painting skills.

It is bringing into practice our lessons on colour theory and the colour scales you were working with in Task 8 & 9.

As I say in the video, painting is a handwriting so let you style come through.

Observe your photo. Produce colour scales to identify which colours you will use for the highlights and the shadows, and then go for it 🙂


A quick recap on ‘meaning’ to add a new dimension to your work:

Here are some inspirational ideas of how artists have completed a half self portrait and added their own personal meanings to how they see themselves…

Naomi Fry SALA artist self portrait for The City adelaide. Illustration by Naomi Fry. AN emerging illustrator with a passion for creating intricate artwork using mixed mediums including paint, pen, coloured pencil and watercolour.

“I don’t paint self portraits often so the portrait is an expression of my warm, colourful and vibrant personality,” she says. “It shows how I want people to see me, in a warm happy light, and to show my love of colour, details, animals and nature. The monkey is there because I’ve always loved animals, in particular unusual exotic animals from different countries.  I’m also very inspired by the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and her life story. Many of her self portraits contain animals such as monkeys, birds and wildlife. I guess I have painted myself as a modern Frida but different, more myself and my style! I have used my eyes as a special feature as I believe they are the windows to one’s soul, expression and personality.”


SALA artist project for The City. Photo of Elaine Cheng by Mike Burton, art by Elaine Cheng.  “I think blue has always been a colour that has been close to my personality — very emotional, very calm, deep and thoughtful — so I worked with that,” she says. “It’s always a challenge to draw my own face because I find most of the time it doesn’t look like me because of the way I see things or the way I hear things, or say things … it changes the way I want myself to look. It’s why I’ve placed those hands in those three places. “


Amanda Radomi and Henry Jock Walker’s creation. Photo taken by Dean Martin.

Walker: “We were playing around with a collage of the photos and also with one of Amanda’s paintings, which we used for the hair. I used a mini garden blower for the paint at the bottom. It also says ‘lifestyle’ (to the left of the tongue) which is a recurring motif we have in our show at Tandanya.”

Radomi: “It’s fun, I think. It’s supposed to be representative of two artists working together who have very different practices, and I think it does that.”

See the website for more info and ideas;



We will learn from more artists next time, but hopefully this will build your confidence further with mixing colours and giving a story to your art 🙂



Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART

Task 11: Portrait Photography

We are looking at Portrait Photography with the aim of having our own study to then work from for our next artwork.

Photography is a crucial tool in the development of an art and design student, as it provides the originality and personal control over your art.


In art, there is no need for colour; I see only light and shade. Give me a crayon, and I will paint your portrait.

Francisco Goya


So let’s look at portraiture and get some ideas so you can start taking your shots.


Definition: Portrait photography or portraiture in photography is a photograph of a person or group of people that captures the personality of the subject by using effective lighting, backdrops, and poses.

Selfies are undoubtedly the most popular form of portrait photography today. However, portrait photography has a long and interesting history, full of new technology and iconic images.


I do not paint a portrait to look like the subject, rather does the person grow to look like his portrait.

Salvador Dali


There are many tips and technical manipulations you could do with a fancy DSLR camera, but here are some that anyone can do with any camera, from the disposable to the Smart Phone.



Don’t be lazy with your compositions. Too often photographers stand back, thinking it’s best to include all, or at least the top half, of their subject.

Zoom in instead to fill the frame for a more inspired photo composition. Positioning your subject to one side of the frame, with ‘space to look into’, is a great technique to master.



How your subject stands, poses and looks will have a dramatic effect on your results. A slight change in facial expression – such as whether they smile or not – can radically change the entire feeling of the photograph.

You could consider setting up portrait shots where your subject looks off-camera, up or down, or to one side. Play around and see what works.

When shooting, try and capture a range of expressions so you can pick which you prefer when editing them back home on the computer. This is a portrait and, as we’ve discussed before, you can add meaning and purpose to your work with a little thought. What story are you trying to tell? What would you like viewers to see when they look at your art? Making a purpose gives your art a personal touch…and makes it more fun!



Framing gives an image depth and draws the eye to a point of interest in the image.

You could do it by placing your subject in a window or doorway, have them look through a small gap or even use their hands around their face.

Also, framing can extend to shooting with a wide angle lens. This can help create some memorable shots when you’re doing portrait photography.

At very wide focal lengths you can create some wonderful distortion. Using these focal lengths will enlarge parts of the face or body that are on the edge of the frame more than what is in the centre.

It can also give a wide open and dramatic impact when your subject is in an impressive setting.


Horizontal and Vertical framings are not the only options when it comes to shooting portraits. While getting your images straight can be important in when shooting in these formats, holding your camera on a more diagonal angle can also inject a little fun into your images.

This type of framing can add a sense of fun and energy into your shots. Just don’t ‘slightly’ do it or you’ll have people asking themselves if you might have mistakenly held your camera crooked.



The person in your portrait is the main point of interest – however sometimes when you place them into different contexts with different backgrounds you can dramatically alter the mood in a shot.

Sometimes you want your background to be as minimalistic as possible.

While other times a dramatic or colourful background can help your subject really stand out.




Not only does the quality of light affect shadows, the distance of the light source to the object casting the shadow will change its characteristics, as well as the distance of the object casting the shadow to the object the shadow falls upon. As you can see, working with shadows opens up an almost infinite window of opportunity.

A shadow can be twisted and manipulated by changing the shape of the object casting the shadow. A shadow can be almost translucent. A shadow can be coloured! You can do a lot of cool things with a shadow.

When photographers, (or all artists for that matter), think of modelling a three dimensional object onto a two dimensional medium, they think of highlights and shadows. It’s these two elements, which are created by light, that help us to see in three dimensions. You have to keep this in mind for this task as you will be painting your most successful photo next.

Photography is about expressing yourself in an artistic medium. Applying that to shadows could mean hunting down interesting shadows that already exist. It could mean creating shadows that weren’t there. It could even mean you manipulating existing shadows to satisfy your creative vision!


Have fun with your photography task!


Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART




Task 10: Paul Cezanne Painting

Welcome back!

This week I want to look at Paul Cezanne with you… the main reasons for this is that his art is considered as being of great importance to the development of modern art. His search for underlying structure of the composition led the way for cubism and then abstraction. I hope to show you how his use of colour as tone, and his obsession with the formal elements of composition, made it possible for artists who came after to question what they saw.

Cezanne was like the father of us all

Pablo Picasso


In looking and learning from artists, such as Paul Cezanne, we can learn a tremendous amount. This task will show you how to take inspiration from an artist, and it will aid your progression; it is one of the best learning tools there is 🙂


Task 10 is to paint a bowl of fruit- inspired by Paul Cezanne

We have already discussed colour theory and how to be creative with your use of colour when painting and drawing. Now we are going to use Cezanne’s inspiration to produce our next art work.

This resource will give you some information about how to analyse Cezanne’s art and what to look out for. If you can write about Cezanne and produce a research page about him, you can later reflect on your own art and where you were successful, as well as finding areas to improve. Knowing what to look for will come from learning more about Cezanne:

Click here for a resource: Cezanne

Have a go at painting fruit in the style of Paul Cezanne

Pointers to remind you of his style:

  • Blocks of colour
  • Use colour to achieve tone
  • His pictures were solid in appearance
  • He loved geometry-geometric simplification
  • He would paint an object from various points of view


Have a look here for a quick example of how to tackle this task 🙂 It is from a Facebook Live demonstration.

Here is my Cezanne inspired painting from the video above…far from perfect but the idea is to learn from one of the greats and see what happens!

Do remember that painting is like handwriting… everyone has their own way so embrace it 🙂

Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART

Task 9: Still life & Oil Pastel Basics

Before we leave this task and begin our next phase, I think it is good for art students to do some experimentation.

This tasks involves completing a still life, to put into practice use of colour and observation skills, which we have previously discussed. As well as this, it is nice to incorporate some more creativity so that still life work does not become repetitive.

The resource below talks through ways you can approach producing your art work so that you are experimenting with new ways of working. This includes things like thinking about your choice of papers and surfaces to use.

Take a look and branch out to create unexpected results within your art:

Creative Art Work


Oil Pastels

When you have your different surfaces and the creative ideas are flowing, do make sure you are experimenting with media also. Oil pastels are a great medium to use for many reasons and can sit on top of many surfaces; which for this phase of your development is great!

There are many techniques you can use to get different effects, but generally they are less messy than powder pastels. Still have some paper towels to hand, a smudge stick and work on top of newspaper…just to be sure.

Applying a heavy pressure with your various colours will blend the pastels without the need to do any ‘smudging’. This is great to layer up colours to create tone in your drawings…try black and white for shadowing or highlighting effects.


Applying light pressure, like the example above, but layering many colours will also work to achieve tone and texture in a drawing. Your hues will change as you add and layer additional colours, so your understanding of colour theory will be really tested 🙂

However you use them you will quickly find they are a very versatile medium. Sketch a contour drawing on watercolour paper, or an alternative surface like what is explored in the resource above, and produce your final colour still life for this task.

Here I am demonstrating the use of oil pastels live on our facebook group:


Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART


Task 9: Colour Values and Still Life

This task is broken down into 2 parts so that you can explore colour further before you take on your full colour still life art work.

If a painting is going to be successful, you must get your tones right, otherwise, it’s just going to be visual noise. The first step to doing this is to remove colour from the equation, to create a range of tone using only black. We did this in an earlier task and it is the main reason for beginning this series with tonal drawings, in black and white.

It’s now possible to create a value scale with every colour in your palette. Once you’ve painted a grey scale, it’s well worth the time painting a series of value scales with every colour you use frequently. Then if you’re struggling to get the right tone in a painting, you can easily consult your value scale.

You can use a range of media too and this will alter your tonal scale and how the colours work:

For watercolour, one way to make it lighter is to gradually add a little more water to the colour each time. You can also try using glazes, creating a series of values by painting a series of blocks, each glazed over once more than the previous block.

With oils or acrylics, the easiest way to lighten a colour is to add white. Remember from our previous discussion that this reduces the intensity of the colour, and therefore may not be ideal. Instead, think about lightening a colour by adding another colour of a lighter value. For example, to lighten a dark red, you can add a little yellow.

We have spoken about complementary colours in our previous lessons and with this exercise you can now explore more in depth your colour wheel. To lighten or darken a colour look at its position on the colour wheel–what is directly opposite? This is its complementary colour. We can use these to create value and it makes for a more interesting painting 🙂

Also consider the harmonious colours to get a range of value. To get a lighter tone of green, try adding yellow, not white. To get a darker tone green, try adding blue, not black. Harmonious, or analogous, colours are next to each other on the colour wheel.

Explore with many value scales, as that way, you can choose the right colour schemes for your art work. You need to understand exactly what colours do when mixed together and this takes practice and experimentation, but it’s time well spent.


Some painters start a painting with the highlights, some with the extreme darker tone. Doing this will make it easier than starting with mid-tones.

When your painting is ‘finished’, check whether you’ve still got your “darkest darks” and “lightest lights”. If you haven’t, the painting isn’t finished yet and you need to adjust the tones.

When painting, get into the habit of squinting your eyes at your subject, which reduces the level of detail you see and emphasises the light and dark areas.

Mid-tones are harder to judge. Compare them to the adjacent tones in the subject and to the lightest or darkest tone. If you struggle with this, a monochrome filter will help you to distinguish tones or value in a subject. Which is what we have been looking at in earlier tasks.

If you struggle with tone or value, doing your value study will be invaluable before painting with colour. Also, painting entirely in monochrome until you’re more comfortable with tone or value is recommended, so keep returning to earlier tasks to ensure you progress. Post your work for feedback and get some expert advice to keep moving forward 🙂

Here is a PDF resource to support you further:

Colour Scale and Colour Still LIfe

…and another quick reference to support this task 🙂

Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART

Task 8 Part 2: Colour Fruit Bowl

TASK: Make a drawing of a bowl of fruit using either colour pencils, pastels or paints.

You are at the stage to begin experimenting with your colours when producing art work in colour.  Part 1 of this task was to learn some colour theory and produce a colour wheel to aid your use of colour in future artworks. We can now put that theory to use 🙂

Begin by practicing blending together different colours. Not just those created on the colour wheel but other combinations of those hues to see what is possible. Mix from light to dark a range of hues- so for this the obvious would be adding black for shade and white for the tints. But there are so many other ways. See what effects you can get by mixing the complementary colours together. Using black for the shadows on a red apple would create a different overall effect than if you mix green into the red to create the shadows instead. It is worth the time spent doing different variations to see what effect you would like.

Look at the key terms below to help you with your experiments:

Hue: the actual colour of an object

Chroma: the purity of a hue in relation to grey. When there is no shade of grey in a colour that colour has a high chroma. Adding shades of grey to a hue reduces the chroma

Saturation: the degree of purity of a hue. Similar to chroma- pure hues are highly saturated-when grey is added the colour becomes desaturated

Intensity: the brightness or dullness of a colour. Adding white or black to a colour lowers it’s intensity. An intense and highly saturated colour has a high chroma

Value/Luminance: a measure of the amount of light reflected from a colour- ie how light or dark a hue is. Adding white to a hue makes it lighter and increases its value or luminance

Shade: the result of adding black to a hue to produce a darker hue

Tint: the result of adding white to a hue to produce a lighter hue

Tone: in between black and white we have grey. A colour tone is the result of adding grey to a hue. Shades and tints are tones at the extremes


Make notes next to the  different and interesting effects you create through your experiments.

Fruit has lots of different colour changes and textures. You should use some of your experiments from the colour wheel in your drawing to show an understanding of colour theory.


When I have found the relationship of all the tones the result must be a living harmony of all the tones, a harmony not unlike that of a music composition

Henri Matisse


Now you have more understanding of colour theory you can apply this to not only creating tonal ranges in your work, but also consider your compositions. Which fruits will you use? How will you position them together?

You can look at how the early twentieth-century group of artists called the Fauves used complementary colours in their work for example. Matisse’s second version of his painting The Dance of 1910, and Music of the same year, demonstrate how the painter used complementary colours next to one another which enhance and vibrate against each other.

Matisse and Derain, two of the Fauve painters, made pictures using vivid palettes of primary and secondary colours. The impressionists used complementary colours to great effect, in their landscapes in particular; when you next look at Impressionist landscapes consider how the yellows and purples, and the other complementary pairs, work together.

When white is mixed in we begin to see how wonderfully subtle and exciting a palette can become- think of the beautiful paintings of Gwen John and Morandi, created using a harmonious and rich variety of greys.

Gwen John The Artist in Her Room in Paris, 1907–09Morandi ‘Natura Morta (Still Life)’, 1960


Morandi deliberately limited his choice of still life objects to the unremarkable bottles, boxes, jars, jugs and vases that were commonly found in his everyday domestic environment. He would then ‘depersonalise’ these objects by removing their labels and painting them with a flat matt colour to eliminate any lettering or reflections. In this condition they provided him with an anonymous cast of ready-made forms that he could arrange and rearrange to explore their abstract qualities and relationships.

Morandi’s compositions and choice of still life objects allude to his Italian heritage. When assembled together in a still life group, his dusty bottles and boxes take on an monumental quality that evokes the architecture of medieval Italy – a style with which he seems at ease.

Think about your composition and the final effects, whilst also experimenting with your media and use of colours 🙂


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