Ready for Battle
Painting #1 Preparatory sketch, (reminiscent of Minas Tirith or the Tower of Babel) which may well change as the painting develops

(Excuse the blur!!)

Starting with white acrylic loosely brushed onto board to create subtle textural marks, Adrian then adds a darker wash and black sketch marks

May 2018: A Tour Through The Fantastical World Of Adrian Sykes

Bristol-based artist Adrian Sykes treated us to a cracking demonstration, an entertaining and informative evening that was a perfect blend of imagination and technique.  His ideosyncratic work often includes fantastical cityscapes conveyed in vivid colours and textural detail and may include elements of events suggestive of some long-forgotten folk tale or dream, almost a strange cross between Paul Klee, Breughel and the Renaissance. Looking at his completed paintings it might not be at all clear how they came about or the stages of construction involved. Fortunately Adrian is a natural teacher and was able to enlighten us, courtesy of three paintings that had already reached some of the waymarks along the route to completion.

Adrian explained that he works every day, one painting taking typically between 3 days and a whole week of intense but enjoyable effort.

Working loosely, Adrian next blocks in areas of colour that accord with his preliminary ideas while being mindful of the imagined source of light. He works from dark to light at this stage, allowing colours even to be a bit on the garish side (temporarily) and also flat-looking since the acrylic/water mix is fairly thin. He uses a lot of dry brush technique at this stage and likes to cover/obscure the black outlines. Texture and a 3-D feel will come later.
Next comes a spray of water on the surface and a liberal and fast coverage of a very dilute watery brown glaze. 'Tonking' or dabbing at and removing some of the glaze, plus a bit of distressing of the surface with a palette knife creates interesting texture as that initial stage with the white paint comes into its own.
Picture #2
Adrian left picture #1 with still a lot of time-consuming work to be done creating more texture, 3-D modelling, a rich patina plus charming or humorous details of little boats in moats etc.
Picture #2 took up the baton as we were shown an already detailed painting.
Slightly alarmingly, Adrian focused on one building and quickly covered the roof and walls in dark mixes of burnt umber, red umber and crimson oil paint [over the dry acrylic - oil over acrylic; NEVER the other way round!] obliterating the original carefully painted suface! The oil paint was added thinly and then dabbed and smeared off again. The process was repeated, also using some 'Zestit' [equivalent of turpentine], and the palette knife was employed to scratch and distress [sgraffito].
Adrian would normally repeat this process working across the whole painting, producing beautiful textural surfaces.
Picture #3 was also already a detailed work of art, but with the use of 'Liquin' mixed liberally with a glaze to create a high gloss effect a wonderful surface appearance was created in the area shown in Detail#2
To see more of Adrian Sykes' beautiful work click HERE. There are also a couple of interesting videos HERE and HERE
Detail #1
Detail #2
Otter Vale Art Society
www.ottervaleartsociety.com
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