Acrylic painting techniques and tutorial with Paula Knight I Colour In Your Life

Acrylic painting techniques and tutorial with Paula Knight I Colour In Your Life


G’day viewers my name’s Graeme Stevenson, and I’d like to invite you to come on a journey of creativity and learning and adventure through the series Colour In Your Life. There’s an artist in every family throughout the world. Lots of times there’s an artist deep down inside all of us as well. So grab your kids, your brothers, your sisters, your aunties, uncles, and mums and dads, and come and see how some of the best artists do what they do. (Music Plays) [Graeme] Well g’day folks, and welcome back to Colour In Your Life. Well we’re in New Zealand, and we’re at a little town or a beach called Papamoa Beach, with a very talented lady: Paula Knight. How are you darling? [Paula] Good thank you. [Graeme] Great to have you on the show. [Paula] Welcome. [Graeme] Yeah, yeah it’s a beautiful area I mean Paula’s studio and you call them bach? is it bach? [Paula] Bach’s [Graeme] The bach, which is like a beach house is right across the road from the beach. It’s a fantastic place and the studio is just absolutely glorious. You’re a multi talented, multi disciplined lady: watercolours and acrylics. But you you started your career being mostly a graphic designer. [Paula] Well I was always obsessed by drawing and painting – so as a little kid that’s what I was always doing, so it was always there. Number one I was always an artist. No knowing really know how to navigate that when I left school which way to go. Graphic Design was the obvious solution. [Graeme] Sure. [Paula] So yeah, I went and did that, but in saying that I brought a lot of illustration and art work into the graphic design as much as I could being my passion. [Graeme] Yeah but you do really, really detailed works of watercolor botanical floral stuff which is some of the most detailed I’ve seen in a long while; it’s really beautiful. But moved on, the beauty that’s in New Zealand which is really just amazing this country’s an extraordinary place. You’ve really moved into the acrylic side of things and then you do these magnificent representations of the beaches and the islands. And one of the very traditionally used plants used in this country called the flax. [Paula] The flax, the Harakeke, which is a Maori name for flax. [Graeme] There you go. And what we’re going to be as well. We’re going to be doing two things today. We’re obviously going to be doing the flax which is this one here, you’ve already made a start on. And then there’s another one that Paula’s going to work on which is one of the Islands. And she really has some really bright and magical colors in her work and they do tell as story. You’ve got some great stories that you’re going to tell us as far as the journey that you’ve come through. But we’re going to ask a whole bunch of questions of you as we normally do, sort of fire away. But we’re going to start on this particular one the which is the flax and Paula will go through how she puts all of this together. There was one Maori gentleman that came up to you at one stage in an exhibition and said that you’d really [Paula] Yeah I went through a stage of putting a lot of reds and purples into my flaxes and people would often come up and say you know, “that flax is just so perfect; the colors are so real.” And I’d say “well”. I’ve never actually seen red or purple in a flax but what it was doing was bringing in the emotion [Graeme] Yeah. [Paula] of the plant and the way I feel about it. And the Maori gentleman came up to me and he spent a long time looking at my paintings, just sort of immersed and staring at them. And then he turned around and said “You’ve captured the spirit of the Harakeke. And to me that was a really high compliment because that’s what I’m trying to do, is capture the emotion of the plant or the scene. [Graeme] Yeah, most people don’t know where the Harakeke or the flax plant itself, it’s very sacred to the Maori people, and it’s the one they use most of all to make their clothing, and their baskets, [Paula] That’s right. [Graeme] and just about everything. [Paula] Yeah. [Graeme] That was literally how these Polynesian people survived for centuries and centuries [Paula] Yeah, that’s right. [Graeme] by using the Harakeke as well. So we’re going to sort of pay homage to that particular part of it and we’re going to work on this painting today, so lets go and get stuck into it. [Paula] Okay, [Graeme] Fantastic. [Paula] sounds good. [Paula] Right, so I’ve prepared this canvas today of the flax plant that we were discussed earlier. So I’ve started putting on the layers. I’m just doing a contemporary white background on this one, which I’ve put the color on. This one I’ve progressed to a point were it’s getting quite close, right down to these that have no paint on them. So I’ve put an underlay of yellow and limes and blues on these. These particular ones that I’m using, painting are quite limey, they’ve got light coming in from behind so it’s bringing out the yellows and the greens of the flax. So what I’m going to do is go onto this one because it’s behind. I always paint the back ones first, that way you’re free to let your brush run over the foreground. You don’t want to be having this one perfect and then trying to come in and paint behind it. I also take off a bit of the paint, you can see here I’ve, the marks where I’ve taken off some of the paint so that I don’t get a build up of ridge of paint going down that way. This one is going to be painted ths way, so always following the texture, the natural texture of whatever I’m painting. So I’m clearing it off so that I can then later on get that nice and sharp. So I’m going to go on to this one first. So I’m just going to get out a selection of colors, so some Prussian blue for the nice deep shadows. A bit of Hookers – Matisse Hookers, is always nice. I like to have good range of colors so that I can just dip in to them when I need to. One of my favourites is Matisse Set green, Australian Set green. It’s just a really good earthy green. [Graeme] It’s a great color that isn’t it? [Paula] It is a great color. And in this one, because it’s so fresh and I want a nice pop, I’m adding some Phyllo green which is pretty scary. It’s a pretty scary green but it’s gorgeous in the water. Beautiful on a nice fresh plant like this. Titanium white Just a nice light yellow – transparent yellow’s fine. This is a cad, Cadmium which I don’t normally use, but the other ones are out. [Graeme] And just generally on a plate, you’re happy with that? [Paula] On a plate I’ve always got a stack there so that I can work through them and toss them aside and have a fresh one if I need more space. [Graeme] And you can sort of hold the water in there if you make a really sort of mussy color. [Paula] Yeah, I don’t tend to use a lot of water. [Graeme] Okay. [Paula] When it’s warm like this I’m dipping in and adding it, but yeah I quite like to get that paint on nice and thick. Okay so I’m just coming through now, working up and down along the grain of the flax. [Graeme] And I was noticing before that you actually don’t use any of the flow mediums. You just rely on the water to do this for you. [Paula] Yeah. I have tried the flow mediums but I do find them a bit um, they can sort of change the texture a little bit. [Graeme] Yep. [Paula] And I find that just the water is a nice clean, controllable way of mixing the paint. I’ve got quite a yellow edge on this flax so I’m just letting that blanket at the moment – I’ll come back to that. I just want to get this nice blended area through here. A bit of light coming through, just catching the roll on that flax as it curves around, because the flax has got two pieces on there and they tend to roll. So even if I have to move my brush sideways to get around an area I’m correcting it again by bringing back those fibres, and that texture of the flax – bringing it back. [Graeme] Just a slow graduation change all the way through. [Paula] Yeah. [Graeme] We we’re discussing before that there’s a painting called Martin’s Bay Fiordland’s [Paula] Yep. [Graeme] and there’s a fantastic story that goes with that. Can you tell us about that? [Paula] I’ve got a friend down in Queenstown, who manages the Hollyford track, Hollyford track in Fiordland which is next to the Milford Tower, Milford track and he commissioned me to do a painting for the lodge. So I did this gorgeous big one of the Martins Bay. I was flown in to have a look and take photos of the view. And then he said would you you know, when I delivered the painting he was so delighted with the whole thing and he said “Would you like to come down some time you know, when the lodge is closed over winter and spend a month there you know, and paint.” And so I took him up on the offer and took my two young teenage kids and a friend, and we went down there and flew in. And we were cut off from the rest of the world and had the most amazing adventures just bushwalking and boating and was just fantastic. A great experience and good to get the kids away from those computers and read and get creative and yeah, amazing time. [Graeme] A fantastic story. [Graeme] Yeah, I’m just going to add a bit of colour down the side. These flaxes often have these lovely golden colors up the sides of them, so I’m going to add some Red Gold and work that into the side. Red Gold’s a lovely color. [Graeme] Yeah. [Paula] A bit of a favourite. [Graeme] That Australian Gold as well. [Paula] Oh yes, yes I had [Graeme] That’s a great [Paula] I had that one first actually, I sort of switch between the two. The ends of these gorgeous little flicks and [Graeme] Little tuffs. [Paula] Yeah, which give it this little elegance on the end. So all of this that I’m doing now is still very much base coat. [Graeme] Your journey with plants really started a long time ago when you started traveling through countries like Africa [Paula] Yes. [Graeme] and you were using watercolours to to pull all this together, but the love of plants has never really left you at all. [Paula] No. I guess it’s just you know, it’s a childhood fascination isn’t it? Your born with that love of nature and plants. And when I was in Africa I started painting wildflowers, just when life slows down when you’re traveling, traveling like that which was you know in your early twenties when you’ve got a lot of time and you’re backpacking. And two years I was in Africa so it was a long time. [Graeme] You were on a motor bike as well. [Paula] Yeah, yeah, yes. Yeah on a motor bike for a year. [Graeme] Yeah. [Paula] So yeah just amazing very, very privileged for being able to do that at the time, you know. [Graeme] Yeah. [Paula] So now I’m just starting to bring in some detail: small brush. Bringing in that lovely deep edge that’s on flax. [Graeme] You really do need the right brush for the right job too. [Paula] Yes. Yes, so with this fine brush I’m just adding water and twirling my brush, just giving it a little twirl, which gives me a nice little tip. So you can see the more I do the more it starts to comes together. It’s not an instant thing and I think a lot of people when they start learning to paint, they want instant result. It has to go through these clumsy stages when it dosen’t look particularly wonderful. So it’s just important to push kind of through and keep going because the magic starts to happen after some layers. [Graeme] You were telling us that you were in Tonga and you were diving with the whales at one stage as well. [Paula] Yeah, snorkelling with the whales, yeah. [Graeme] That’s pretty cool. [Paula] That was amazing and I absolutely love Tonga, I just, the colors, the water over there. I mean you know, my colors of my work they’re quite tropical anyway. So obviously there with the intense blues and the beautiful light turquoise and the little white Islands, the white sand, and bush, and jungle and no one around – just a paradise. Right so we’re just going to start on the foreground flecks now. This is back lit; the light’s not particularly coming from one side, it’s creeping around. So you can see my brush backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards, kind of scrubbing but still working with that texture of the flax. So still following with the grain, but I’m scrubbing the color together. Just bringing a little light down that side. A little bit over here. And then I’m just going to leave it to dry. [Graeme] Okay. And that is one of the beauties about acrylics instead of doing this with oils, it’s only going to take a few minutes [Paula] That’s right [Graeme] to do what you want it to do. [Paula] and it’s definitely better to let it dry. If you start having any issue, let it dry and come back to it. Okay so now I’m coming through we’ve got lovely fresh bluey tones. And this is were I turn my canvas just because my hand doesn’t rotate all the way back. So I want to get this little edge here so I’m just bringing a bit of light across. You can see that’s a much neater line than what I was trying to achieve before with my hand in that awkward position. Now I’m almost doing a circular blending movement there. So it’s almost around but still backwards and forwards, and always finishing it across the grain, or with the grain sorry – not across the grain. So I’ll let that dry, there’s no point in working and working on that because it’s just going to resist. That’s it for now, so I’ll come back and I’ll do a another top coat and really pop it and really get that magic in. In the photo this is actually coming out straighter, I’m wanting to drop it down because I like the elegance. Right so I’m coming through now with the other half. Lit this a little bit just here, get the natural splits in them. Okay so now I’m going to go with some light-light. You’ll find with white that it picks up color really, really quickly. So you only need a drop of color [Graeme] Yep. [Paula] and suddenly the lights gone. I’m just sifting the angle again, coming up to this curve here. [Graeme] It’s great the depth of color that you can get when You’re not really putting a lot of color on either. [Paula] Yeah that’s right, yeah. Working that over with that unusual back lighting again. Good blending tip: if you’ve got color sitting on top of each other that’s not quiet blended, wash and dry the brush again. Let it flow over the top. Now again this is just a base coat. I can see a slight purpley ting on my flax, so I’m just going to pop that in. Just a reflection of the sky the blue. The blue coming into the green, very subtle but it adds interest. You can see that purple’s just disappearing, so it’s just there as a hint. Alright so I’ve got a lot more to do on this, but this gives a basic idea of where we’re heading. I’ll be coming through and putting the little brown details on the ends, and then working through these flaxes. We’re going to go into another one now and so we’re looking at putting light in on the vegetation, so we’ll move onto that. [Graeme] Yeah, and it’s actually the combination of the two things that you’re well known for which is these beautiful scenes and obviously the flax pieces. [Paula] The botanical and the background and the foreground. [Graeme] The combination of how they work. [Paula] Good. [Graeme] Cool. [Paula] Okay. [Paula] So we’re moving on to this painting this is Rabbit Island, which is on Mount Maunganui Beach. It’s quiet a good way, under way this one. So I’m just going to work on some detail up here in the Mutueka Forest which sits on top of the Island. So I’ve got the basis on, so what I want to do now is just bring some of that lovely north west afternoon light coming through the tops, just shimmering in the trees. Very subtle – I want it to stay quite dark, but just bring a little bit of light out there, which kind of just leads you in to the tops of the trees where there’s a bit of blossom, summer – summer scene. [Graeme] That’s beautiful. [Paula] So I’ll start with the light on the trees. So I’ve got the Set green and Red gold that gives that beautiful olivey color. Going for a small brush, I’m just going to start lifting out the tops. Now the tops of the trees are big and round so I’m letting my brush just make those movements. [Graeme] Just with the tip of the brush. [Paula] Tip of the brush, moving it around, rolling it slightly as I go. And right up in to the tops, there’s a few pung and things up here. Pung are a tree fern. [Graeme] Yeah. [Paula] A native tree fern. Until I left New Zealand I thought that they were just a New Zealander, but I’ve seen them in Africa and Australia’s got them, South America. It’s really good when you’re painting things to think about the actual shape. Like you’re almost running your brush over the object, so I’m thinking about the shape of the trees as I’m doing this. And it’s the same with anything that you paint or draw or sketch. You can kind of imagine yourself actually physically forming the shape of the object, it’ll really help you to paint the object and make it more believable. [Graeme] Your whole family’s had a bit of a history with art. Your mum and dad painted and your darling daughter Harriet, [Paula] Yes. [Graeme] has also taken on the creative bend in her life – probably due to her mother of course. [Paula] Yes. Yes so she’s studying art teacher, and finding that you know, being able to draw and paint is hugely beneficial there. And in between when she’s having breaks from that highly successful degree, she paints. So she’s had quite a few commissions [Graeme] Isn’t that great? [Paula] and she just finished a massive big nude in oils. So yeah, it’s really, really awesome to see. [Graeme] That’s wonderful. [Graeme] And your boy Loui is quite creative as well. [Paula] Yes, he was always a great little drawer and painter when he was younger. He’s kind of got busy with other things now but he has had the odd little commission while he’s been traveling overseas. So yeah, it’s a strong factor in our lives. [Graeme] Now looking at this piece your working on at the moment Paula, it really reminds me of one of the series that I really like of yours which is the Coromandel series. And one particular picture was Opito Bay. Can you tell me more about that? [Paula] Opito Bay. So Opito Bay is up in the beautiful Coromandel of New Zealand, which is a peninsular that’s got gorgeous beaches and a lot of coastal forest. A lot of native plants on it and just pristine beaches. I love painting there and I’ve been up there over summer and took photos and gained inspiration, and came home and I’ve just completed a collection of paintings. I’ve just want this to be a very, very subtle shift in light so if there’s to much contrast to soon, it’d just looks, it’ll look aggressive And I want it to look very tranquil, very subtle, soft light coming through. So what I’m doing is I’m just slowly introducing a little bit of light. A little biit more white, a little bit more white into my mix, and then I’ll just get it to a point were I’m happy. I’ll just put a little bit of the red blossom of the Harakeke’s in there. And the next stages is that I go on to, on to the grass, and once I’ve got that in, depending on light, how the colors I’m using in the balance, then I’ll go back and might decide to add a bit more red. Bring out a bit more light; put a bit more depth into it. [Graeme] Okay. [Paula] So I don’t sort of complete that, I come back to that once I’ve got the last remaining element on. [Graeme] Well lets put some grass in then. [Paula] Okay. Okay, well I’m just going to start with the basic background colors first, so I’m going for these muted greeny-brown blues. [Graeme] Yep. [Paula] So I’m just putting on a really basic coat, then I’ll be working up to the very, very fine brush work later. As I move away – further away – I’m introducing a little bit more light. [Graeme] Your paintings with the grass, I mean there’s a lot of fine detail in your work but the grass is – sort of takes the cake. [Paula] yeah. [Graeme] It’s like real grass. [Paula] Yeah, hours and hours [Graeme] Yes. [Paula] of little brush strokes. [Graeme] Yep. So this is just a process of building base colors [Paula] Yeah. [Graeme] with a large brush [Paula] Yeah. [Graeme] to get the effect at the back, and then from what I can see you’re probably coming smaller and smaller brushes. [Paula] Yeah. [Graeme] Now you also conduct fantastic workshops and you teach as well at your beautiful home on the beach down here at Papamoa. So if anyone wants to get in touch with you about doing the workshops what is your website? [Paula] paulknight.co.nz [Graeme] Fantastic. And I thoroughly recommend it, I mean this lady does some absolutely beautiful work guys. So if you’re in this area and it is a magnificent area, this whole place is just beautiful, give Paula a call or an E-mail and come down and say hi to her. [Paula] Yeah, please do. [Graeme] And your work is incredibly popular, you’ve got a lot of overseas buyers and what countries have you actually sold to? [Paula] Over in Europe, Australia, America. Yeah. [Graeme] That’s fantastic; you’ve even got work in the UK as well. [Paula] Yeah, yeah we’ve also got a lot of expats living over there. A lot of New Zealanders live all over the world, we’re quite big travellers. So this work obviously being coastal New Zealand is you know, very popular. [Graeme] Reminds them of home. [Paula] Yeah reminds them of home.[Graeme] That’s fantastic, wonderful. Alright Paula well you’ve made a lot of progress; it looks fantastic. And as you can see by the beauty of television once again, we can actually screen up the final piece there and it looks just fantastic. Well guys, a great day at Papamoa. Thank you very much Paula. [Paula] Pleasure. Thank you for coming. [Graeme] Fantastic day. Acrylics and obviously watercolors, I mean what you do is just fantastic. If you want to come along to Paula’s workshops and her teaching, and she’s got a fantastic spot down at the Papamoa beach, I mean literally across the water. What’s your website again? [Paula] paulaknight.co.nz [Graeme] And I thoroughly recommend it; she’s got some magnificent paintings. Beautiful work and it’s very, very different but it’s electric; it’s fantastic work. Come in to colour in your life dot com dot au as always. And also our Facebook page and our YouTube site. Lots of great things going on, lots of people in there so please come in and say hi. We’re going to head off again. We really love being in New Zealand, the people are fantastic and the scenery is literally spectacular. [Paula] It is. [Graeme] I understand why you guys get so inspired. [Paula] Yeah, yeah. [Graeme] It’s a fantastic place to be – it really is. [Paula] Beautiful place, yeah. [Graeme] But as always guys – remember, as we go: make sure you put some color in your life. And we’ll see you next time. Bye now. [Paula] Bye. [Graeme] Bye.

17 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *