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Matthew Davison  6th May 2022
Cloudscape Over Ottery in Acrylics

Mathew trained at Bradford School of art and for most of his professional life he worked in TV and film as a director of photography. His art career started in 1978 with elephant sized prints selected at the royal west of England academy .

He is a successful artist and tutor based in Devon and since moving to Ottery in 2018 he has been a good friend to OVAS and is an OVAS member.


Matthew teaches art and runs courses at Honiton's School of Art & Wellbeing where there are always interesting courses , plein-air days and so on. Why not take a look at what's on offer HERE


May 6th was a beautiful day and Matthew was up early and making a pencil and an acrylic sketch from a vantagepoint going up towards East Hill and looking across more-or less to the northwest.  The view was of rolled strips of grass and fine weather cumulus and a horizon line of fields, hedges, trees and buildings.

In the evening he delighted us with a good-humoured demonstration that ably showed off his knowledge of the medium and subject matter 

ABOVE: Matthew's pencil sketch. As an aide memoire it includes notes on direction of light etc

RIGHT: An in situ sketch in acrylics

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Matthew's work materials

Matt's paints.jpg

Matthew primed a board with a unifom mix of cadmium orange, phthalo blue and gesso, a ground he allowed to show through in places. His palette was mainly cobalt blue, yellow ochre, raw umber, azure blue [near the horizon], zinc white and, for the greens, a mix of phthalo green and cadmium yellow.

He recognises watercolour as a challenging medium in contrast with which acrylic allows much more versatility in working up layers and adapting creatively with opaque and transparent layers.

He finds he can work well with a simple dry palette, the solution to quick drying being a light spray of the painting and the palette as needed.


As the slideshow above hopefully illustrates, the composition was lightly sketched out in charcoal, with the receding strips of rolled grass [later appearing in contrasting greens] as the dominant land feature, and a very narrow band of details at the horizon sandwiched between these greens and a towering busy cloudscape.

He likes both the fugitive quality of charcoal and its grittiness if left at the outlines of the acrylic patches.

Matthew enjoyed building up the cloud textures, finding a rich variety of colours there and finally adding some well-defined touches of titanium white. Cobalt blue was used higher in the sky while a very convincing horizon blue was created from a mix of azure [by itself more or less turquoise] and zinc white. Some scumbling with almost dry paint created some lifelike blurring texture in parts of the clouds.
Finally, a lot of detail was added with a finer brush, suggesting distant trees, fields, the occasional building and so on, the darker details often picked out in raw umber and the whole 'distant' section somewhat blurred by light glazes of white and of very light azure suggesting an early morning haze.

The final painting

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Otter Vale Art Society

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