The demonstrating artist was ‘Artist on the Hill’, Tony Parsons, a Brighton-based artist who makes painting with oils look easy. For this demonstration he chose an industrial view of Shoreham harbour, centred on the monolithic power station but softened by a glowing sunset and a darkly shadowed foreground. Not the simplest of subjects to paint in two hours, but the kind of challenge that Tony relished, despite answering questions throughout. Yet the result was immensely impressive.
Before working professionally in oils, Tony spent some 15 years as a caricaturist, drawing faces at weddings, celebrations or corporate events, but switched to full-time painting nine years ago – the majority of which he does outside. Such a lengthy graphic schooling has taught him to break subjects down into blocks of light and shade and not be overwhelmed with detail; hence his impressionist style.
Essential to this approach is balancing the colour values between the brightest highlights and the darkness of shadow to ensure the contrast between them tones with the surrounding light. This, he assured us, is key to creating a three-dimensional pictures.
Colour mixing is also key, he said, suggesting the best way to learn this is by beginning to paint with the primary colours - red, yellow and blue - only adding new colours one-by-one as you master the colours each one can make when mixed with each or all of the primaries. Further tips included his “25 rules”: 1) use a brush 25% larger than you feel comfortable with and, 2) finish your picture 25 minutes before you think its finished!
“While we are often advised to look at the ‘Great Masters’ for inspiration,” he said, “it’s worth remembering that most of the great painters of the past either came from wealthy backgrounds or had wealthy sponsors because, in their eras, paint was very expensive. This meant that very few talented artists had the time and money to paint. Today, paint is cheap and widely available, so there are more people painting than have ever painted.”
Free tuition is also available, he noted, pointing out the huge wealth of free tutorials on YouTube.” Artists he recommended finding on YouTube included: Peter Brown, Colly Whisson, Bob Ross and Kevin Hill who has tutorials entitled “Paint with Kevin. Tony Parsons can be found at: http://artistonthehill.wixsite.com/artistonthehill/recent-works