It’s been a busy month for me, lots of learning involved as well as my other work.

Slowing down the drawing

I took some one-to-one lessons over Skype with American portrait painter Felicia Forte. I was a bit intimidated at first as it’s pretty scary talking to let alone getting lessons from and being critiqued by someone you really admire. But it’s very good to go out of your comfort zone so I was brave!

We went through some classical still life exercises and old master copies using her method. The thing that really struck me is how much I needed to concentrate to draw out the picture correctly. Normally I dash off the first layer as I know I can correct it later but I really did concentrate hard with these exercises, mostly because I knew she’d be going over them with me, but also because I began to feel the benefit of solving most of the drawing problems in the first layer.


Although I know that drawing is seeing, I got much better results from really, really thinking about it so I’ll be doing more of that in future!

Zorn palette

For three out of four exercises I had to use a ‘Zorn’ palette, devised by Anders Zorn in the 19th century and limited to four colours: titanium white, yellow ochre, cadmium red and ivory black.

You can get a surprising range of colours from just these four, I painted up a colour chart, and it’s harmonious because it’s limited but it’s not possible to get every colour you want.


I found it really difficult but it made me far more aware of nuances in colour. I think its something I’ll go back to occasionally but certainly not all of the time.

What I’ve learnt

It was fascinating to follow another painter’s method  and now I can’t wait to take what I’ve learnt and put it into practice. I think I’m going to paint regular still lifes to help me improve and refine my technique whilst also working on bigger figurative paintings.

It’ll be fun finding objects to paint too, I might start spending more time in second-hand shops looking for them. If you have any subject suggestions, let me know!

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