art4you Scotland

Sketchbooks – how to choose one?

There are many sketchbooks to choose from and you might need more than one type to cover the variety of your work and techniques.

Sketchbooks are useful tools to

  • Record useful reference material
  • Plan your ideas for painting
  • Improve your drawing skills

Good paper quality is preferable – minimum of 160gsm cartridge paper or watercolour paper of 300gsm are ideal.

Two main points to consider are size and quality of the paper. An A4 sketchbook is not too overwhelming in size, but large enough to develop ideas. A good addition is a pocket-sized sketchbook – A6 – which can be carried in almost every pocket. Use it to jot down those spontaneous ideas, inspirations and ideas.

Many artists find a portrait format sketchbook easier to hold and work in than a landscape one. When wanting to capture something on a larger scale working across a double page works well.

Spiral-bound books have the advantage to open us easily and allow any used sheets to be folded over. Books with a stiff backing cover will provide a firm support to press down on.

To hold a page of the sketchbook in place whilst working in a windy environment a large, strong elastic band proves very useful. Slip it over the page and around the rest of the sketchbook.

The sketchbook is your personal visual notebook. Keep in mind that every sketch will add to your experience and learning. There are no bad sketches – consider your sketchbook as a working record of your thoughts, ideas and experiences. Resist the temptation to tear out any sketches you don’t like. You can also add photos to your sketchbook or other supporting reference material.

Sketching is a great way to help to understand a subject. Want to know more about sketchbooks and drawing classes get in touch.

Life Painting Day – 12th May 2019

The 17th June 2018 was a great day – good work and lovely company. Next date is orgainsed for 12th May 2019. Time will fly – make a note so you won’t miss it. 

You will get the same support as during our regular Life & Portrait Drawing Classes but with much more time available to practice
and experiment.
Date: 12th May 2019
Time: 10-4pm
Price: £95 incl. lunch and material
.The day will start with 45min drawing exercises. For the rest of the day the model will hold the same pose with short breaks in-between. You can select the medium of your choice (oil, acrylic or drawing mediums). We will have a lunch break at around 12.30pm.All the drawing and painting materials are as always included in the course fee of £95 as well as lunch and refreshments. 
Please tell us, email or text us to book a place.
01360 449 101 or 07981 768 081

Still Life – the fun and the challenges

The attraction of still life over landscape – the arrangement of objects, lighting and also the viewpoint is your choice.

If you are ne to the subject of still life, it pas to begin with some simple arrangements. You don’t even have to leave the house to find something suitable to paint. Interesting items can be found in the kitchen, toll shed or garden.

Start with an initial idea and make a number of small design sketches to clarify and solidify the idea. Drawing helps to familiarise yourself with the arrangement, shapes, light and tones. It leaves a footprint and muscle memory which will help during the painting process. Once you are happy with an arrangement, set about drawing the final composition before you start to paint.

Light and Shadows

One of the great benefits of painting still life is the opportunity to study closely the effects of light, especially in areas of shadow. Remember that shadows are not just grey. When light hits an object, such as an orange, some of the colour will be reflected into the shadow. Also keep in mind that bright, direct light creates hard-edged shadows while indirect, soft light will cause the shadows to be more diffused and less obvious.

Contour drawing

Once you are happy with the arrangement, make a contour drawing. Keep the drawing fee by holding the pencil loosely in your hand and keep it moving on the paper without loosing contact – also called one-line-drawing. Standing up whilst drawing gives you a more overall view and allows you to move the entire arm and step back to observe.

Imagine the tip of the pencil tracing the outline of the object as it moves across the paper. Focus on the negative shapes – the spaces you see between objects. Draw what you see not what you think you know. The negative objects are just as important as the physical objects. It helps with the proportion and relations of the objects.


Once you’re happy with the outline, begin to use the paint. Start by focusing on the largest areas, building the painting up in stages. Block in the composition, add lighter areas, create contrast and refine effects.

Towards the final stages of the painting, add the smaller details. This is the stage where most of the damage can be done resist the temptation to overwork the painting.


Colour creates the mood and generates the excitement in a painting but how do we get the colour we want?

Everyone knows the three primary colours are yellow, red and blue. Going by the colours available these days we find that many primary colours have a bias towards another colour – below a few examples:

Cadmium red – yellow bias

Alizarin crimson – blue bias

Ultramarine blue – red bias

Cerulean blue – yellow bias

Lemon yellow – blue bias

Cadmium yellow – red bias

The above six colours are a good starting point in developing a colour palette, as they represent a cool and warm variant of each of the primary colours. If you want pure mixes then mixing colours with the same bias will achieve this; ultramarine blue and alizarin crimson, for instance, will give a good purple, whereas cadmium red mixed with cerulean blue will make mud – try it and see!

Three further useful colours are:

Raw sienna

Burnt sienna

Cobalt blue

These three are great for a vast range of subjects.


The three properties of colour

Hue – Value – Saturation

Green, orange, yellow, and blue — each of these is a hue, a colour or a shade that’s true. A rainbow shows the melting of one hue into another, from red to violet, and all shades in between. The noun hue means both a colour and a shade of a colour


Value is defined as the relative lightness or darkness of a colour. It is an important tool for the artist, in the way that it defines form and creates spatial illusions. Contrast of value separates objects in space, while gradation of value suggests mass and contour of a contiguous surface. Another word for value is the luminosity which refers to the amount of light reflected or absorbed by a colour i.e. white reflects and black


Saturation is also referred to as “intensity” and “chroma.” It refers to the dominance of hue in the colour. On the outer edge of the hue wheel are the ‘pure’ hues. As you move into the centre of the wheel, the hue we are using to describe the colour dominates less and less. It can sometimes be very difficult to distinguish saturation from value.

Discover the versatility of oil pastels

Oil pastel is a painting and drawing medium with characteristics similar to pastels and wax crayons. Oil pastels consist of pigment mixed with a non-drying oil and wax binder. The surface of an oil pastel painting is therefore less powdery, but more difficult to protect with a fixative. Oil pastels provide a harder edge than “soft” or “French” pastels but are more difficult to blend.

Our students usually need a few goes before they discover the versatility of this mediums.  During first attempts oil pastels are often described as sticky and not easy to blend.

But it is worthwhile to give this medium a second chance because it is actually a very adaptable medium. It can be used as a wash medium, a basic drawing tool, scraped with razor blade and reworked.

With other mediums such as watercolour oil pastel can be used as a resit. Oil pastels are also great for building up layers over an acrylic underpainting. They can be blended with brushes or cotton buds or manipulated with various painting mediums such as turpentine, liquin and alkyd-based gels.

Oil pastels can be used on various surfaces including watercolour paper, canvas, oil boards, acrylic paper, mountboard and more. When using watercolour and card it is best to prepare the paper/card with a gesso or acrylic ground to create a seal.

Oil pastels never dry completely and can’t be painted over but you can use it on top of watercolour or acrylic. Oil pastels can also be combined with oil paints. To protect a finished art work we suggest to use glass to frame it.

Here are some mixed media techniques listed:

  • Use oil pastels on top of acrylic or watercolour
  • Use oil pastels as a wax resist before the application of acrylic or watercolour
  • Use coloured pencil to draw into oil pastels
  • Use a razor blade to create textures and marks of oil pastels
  • Use turpentine, liquin, zest-it or white spirit to mix and blend colours

TIP: Oil pastels go sticky when held too long. To cool them down pop them in the fridge!

21st Century Portraits – working methods

The 21st century has introduced us to artist using a computer screen and programs in which you select the size of the line wanted and then, using the mouse, draw with it. It is fascinating seeing portraits appear with pared down to the bare minimum, just huge areas of flat colour and a single outline not dealing with tiny details.

Richard Wilson by Charlie Wells,                            Yellow portrait with squeegees by Will Nunes
computer generated portrait

But not everybody is drawn to work with the computer. Many people still like to have the direct contact with the pencil on paper, or brush on canvas. To keep the own output fresh one sometimes should abandon habits and stretching the scope of the materials – squeegees, sponge and fabrics springs to mind.

There is no right or wrong way – that’s why it’s good to experiment. Afterall, when given rules, the person the teaches has only formed them from the basis of their own experience and abilities.

Methodes variy from starting a portrait by working on one eye, finishing it perfectly and then moving over to complete the other eye or draw the whole protrait, map it out and then fill that map in with colour or an all over approach by painting the whole portrait as a blured out of focus photograph and then gradually refine, correcting things that don’t work. Many more methods are possible. As said: there is no right or wrong way.

During our portrait class we encourge students to develop their own style guided and encouraged by the teaching artist but never telling them their method is wrong. We all learn by doing and our classes allow you to do so.

Portrait drawing class

Do faces fascinate you? Would a portrait drawing class interest you?

portrait is a painting an 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 art of the portrait flourished in Ancient Greek and especially Roman sculpture, where sitters demanded individualized and realistic portraits, even unflattering ones. During the 4th century, the portrait began to retreat in favor of an idealized symbol of what that person looked like. (Compare the portraits of Roman Emperors Constantine I and Theodosius I at their entries.) In the Europe of the Early Middle Ages representations of individuals are mostly generalized. True portraits of the outward appearance of individuals re-emerged in the late Middle Ages, in tomb monuments, donor portraits, miniatures in illuminated manuscripts and then panel paintings.

Our models at the portrait class are people from day to day life. We have different models every session allowing you to capture a wide variety of expressions.

If you would like to explore the subtle art of drawing and painting people get in touch. During the class you  learn about proportion, anatomical structure and tonal contrast. Portrait class takes place Thursdays 10-12 with models and with direction and feedback from the tutor. Next block starts 22nd Feb, 6 weeks.

Book now!



Visual Diary

  • It is February – have you started something new or restarted something again. Did you make any New Year resolutions? If you keep just one resolution this year make it the sketchbook habit.

    Drawing has this ability to commit an image to the brain, which stays there forever. It is because of the intense concentration that one goes through in the process of drawing. Drawing is a wonderful way to convert ideas into a form that people can understand.

    Observation and practice
    Learning to draw is learning to see more clearly, and to understand what one is looking at. Many people spend their whole lives with their eyes open but not really seeing anything in the way that an artist is. The brain has the capacity to record and store thousands of images once it has been trained. By starting to observe your surroundings carefully the brain will start to understand, and drawing will improve. To improve takes practice – a lot of practice.

    The diary
    There are many sketchbooks to choose from. We suggest a hardbound, plain paper book, A4. They feel good, look good and will last. This book is for you, your practice and observation. There is no judgement just observation and learning. Look carefully at as many styles of drawings as possible. See how the Masters used their drawings to plan and discover. Study different styles, and practise by coping some of the best drawings.
    Resolve now to do at least one drawing a day to record something of what you have seen. Title the drawing, date it and make any other notes on or under it that will help you remember the occasion. This diary will help you remember every day of your life through these drawings.

    Some tips

    • think about how you are holding the pencil or pen, try various positions
    • Keep scribbling light, faint lines roughly where you think they should be until the correct shapes appear
    • try contour drawing focusing on the outline of the object / the negative shapes between or behind the objects
    • good style is important, consider every inch of your lines and make them interesting
    • try drawing is charcoal – a bit messy but the feel of it on the surface is a delight

Quick tips to keep seeing art4you Scotland Facebook posts

Facebook has made some changes to what you see in your news feed. Here’s how to ensure you still get our posts.


Facebook is changing the way we all engage with the network. While we are posting as much as ever, you might find that you’re seeing less of our content than previously. If you enjoy the daily art posts and our other feeds, a few simple clicks will ensure our posts remain visible.

How to make art4you Scotland a priority

  • Log in to your Facebook page and ‘like’ art4you Scotland at: if you haven’t already.
  • Click on the ‘down arrow’ on the blue toolbar at the top-right-hand side of the page to reveal ‘News Feed preferences’ (see below). If you’re on a mobile, click on the three horizontal lines on the toolbar at the top-right-hand side.

Tag us on Facebook @ArtistsAndIllustrators

  • Select ‘News Feed preferences’ and click ‘Prioritise who to see first’ (see below). This will allow you to select your favourite pages, friends and family. Select art4you Scotland as one of your preferred pages.

Tag us on Facebook @ArtistsAndIllustrators

Now you should be able to see us more regularly. We love to hear from you, and the more engagement you make with our Facebook page, the more likely we are to appear on your news feed.

We are all artists

Childrеn feel hardly any rules when it comes to art. They explore their worlds, goals and dreams through doddling and drawing. Remember your child drawings on walls or tables. Not supposed to go there but for children аrt is considered аѕ something fun, playful and magical with no limits – not even the newly painted wall or the white sofa is a limit.

Now see youself as an adult. When did you last doodled anything. What happened? It’s not that art stopped appealing to you, and if you’re honest, you’re still creative deep down… So why not bring your inner artist out to play? Nо mаttеr hоw busy our lives can get with work, our family, or other obligations, wе ѕhоuld never forget our сrеаtivitу, we should еnjоу every mоmеnt оf it. Hеrе are fivе easy tips:


Start now. Take a pencil and paper, any paper and doodle away. Only with practise will you achieve and whats is easier than doddling whilst waiting somewhere, sitting on the bus, tube, air port. Put your phone away and start doodling, stаrt sketching. Buy a notebook аnd ѕtаrt creating outlines, studies and gesture drawings. Read up on various techniques and experiment.

Evеn if you consider yourself a novice – just dо it. Fеаr nеvеr helped аnуоnе. Besides, everyone was a beginner once, including the greats. So buckle down and start creating!

Through time, this can еvоlvе into ѕоmеthing lоngеr аnd mоrе соmрlеx.


The beauty of art – you learn to see the world differently. You stаrt exploring old things in a new way all leading to diѕсоvеring or rediscovering the wоrld around you providing new inspiration as you explore. You don’t need to leave the country. Your park, your tube station, your local coffee place can be the source of inspiration… There are bеаutiful lосаtiоnѕ аrоund уоu аt every соrnеr – just open your eyes and mind.

Aftеr аll, your аrt iѕ thе rеflесtiоn оf your lifе.


When is the right time to start something new – wеll, NOW is the only answer. You have been interested in art for years but never hаd thе courage or time tо try it? To get you started and commited it helps to sign uр fоr сlаѕѕеѕ.  You meet like minded people, have fun together and learn together. All this will certainly hеlр with mаking уоur creative juices flоw.

Unlеѕѕ уоu рuѕh tоwаrdѕ it, creativity will never соmе tо уоu. Don’t bе аfrаid tо try new things and learn more аbоut thе subjects уоu’re аlrеаdу familiar with. Whо knоwѕ? You mау find nеw and improved wауѕ of expressing yourself and ѕtаrt ѕоmеthing frеѕh!


When was the last time you picked up a paintbrush? Primary school? If it’s been a while, and you’re hestating to take an art class with other students start at home. Get some brushes, basic paint and a small surface of paper, cardboard, canvas – anything and start. Yes, it is that easy. Paint and create in the comfort of your kitchen table or office. And if you want more help there are plenty of art classes available.

Yоur ѕmаll painting could turn into something bigger. Imаginе thаt you paint the same thing оvеr аnd оvеr again, еvеrу time? Evеntuаllу, you wоuld become аn еxреrt in that particular type of painting which соuld thеn bе turnеd into that landscape or portrait you always dreamed of making.


No mаttеr уоur аgе, оr hоw buѕу уоu аrе, уоu ѕhоuld never ѕtор lеаrning. Eduсаtiоn iѕ thе most imроrtаnt part of уоur lifе, and ѕhоuld always bе еnсоurаgеd. 

Thе bеѕt thing аbоut education is that it саn come frоm any source imaginable. Knоwlеdgе is аll around uѕ; all уоu have tо dо iѕ bе willing tо tаkе it in.
Crеаtivitу dоеѕn’t соmе with birth, it’s lеаrnеd аnd nurturеd throughout уоur whole lifе – practise, practise and practise again.

Tо be аn аrtiѕt takes timе, practice, аnd mоѕt imроrtаntlу, it tаkеѕ love fоr what уоu dо. Fоrgеt аbоut thе nауѕауеrѕ, аnd obstacles; thеу саn bе ignored аnd fоrgоttеn about. Mоvе fоrwаrd, аnd do whаt уоu love… that’s all thаt matters whеn motivating your inner artist.

Calligraphy – the art of beautiful writing

Calligraphy is the design and execution of lettering with a broad tip instrument, brush, or other writing instruments. A contemporary calligraphic practice can be defined as, “the art of giving form to signs in an expressive, harmonious, and skillful manner”.

Modern calligraphy ranges from functional inscriptions and designs to fine-art pieces where the letters may or may not be readable. 

Here are some ideas for the use of calligraphy:

Wedding invitations, event invitations, original hand-lettered logo design, announcements, commissioned calligraphic art, cut stone inscriptions, poems and memorial documents.

The principal tools for a calligrapher are the pen, the brush and good quality paper. Calligraphy pens write with nibs that may be flat, round, or pointed.]For some decorative purposes, multi-nibbed pens—steel brushes—can be used. Felt-tip and ballpoint pens can be used as well but these works do not employ angled lines. There are some styles of calligraphy, like Gothic script, which require a stub nib pen.

Writing ink is usually water-based and is much less viscous than the oil-based inks used in printing. High quality paper, which has good consistency of absorption enables cleaner lines.

Next block of classes starting 10th January 2018 – book here