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4th October 2013



Drawing for fun with John Atkinson


Drawing human movement may sound daunting to many, but John Atkinson showed how it could be fun at the Otter Vale Art Society meeting at the Institute on the evening of Friday 4th October.  John lives locally and is a long standing member of OVAS whose drawings and paintings have always proved popular at the society’s annual exhibitions.


On the evening he showed how to simply represent the human form in a variety of postures that might be adopted for a range of sporting or everyday activities.  Those present had been invited to bring along a sketchbook and pencil if they wanted to try for themselves and many did so, surprising themselves as to how easy and fun it could be under John’s expert guidance.


Cartoon is a word that is often associated with drawings of people with exaggerated features for comic or satirical effect.  John showed how an understanding of how this works can be very useful for artists more generally in honing their skills for the incorporation of people in their own work, with the correct proportions and perspective.  At the end of the event, Carol Ann Pitfield spoke for the society in thanking John for a most instructive and absorbing evening.

6th September 2013

Can you see what isn’t there? - Demonstation by David Webb


Art is a mind game.  So said Neil Marshall at the end of an entertaining evening hosted by the Otter Vale Art Society at the Institute on the evening of 6th September, which featured the well-known Devon watercolour artist, David Webb.  Neil was, in his vote of thanks to David for his most impressive demonstration, summing up the appeal of gazing at a work of art; that it can trigger memories and feelings in the viewer just hinted at in the picture, without the distraction of detail or formal, exact representation.  David is a master of the loose style of painting which exemplifies how this can be achieved.


Up to the year 2000 David worked as an illustrator, mainly for the editorial market on books, magazines and greetings cards. With a lifelong interest in nature, his work was of necessity very detailed. But then he broke away from the constraints of illustration and began working on larger scale paintings in a looser style. Based in Paignton, he now leads tutored painting breaks around the country, both studio-based and outdoors while also writing and illustrating books and magazine articles.


For his demonstration he used just four colours; raw sienna, burnt sienna, crimson and cobalt blue.  Using a black and white tonal sketch he had prepared beforehand, he worked with a large brush on wet paper to create a townscape, depicting the market in a small town in southern France.  Essential to the illusion of life and essence of the scene are the figures, injecting feeling and emotion into into what would otherwise be a sterile scene.  This was a fascinating demonstration of technique by a leading watercolour artist.

5th July 2013


Collage and mixed media by Joan Scott


At its meeting on July 5th at the Institute, the Otter Vale Art Society was fascinated by a demonstration by Joan Scott of how she uses all sorts of materials to be found around the home to make very distinctive pictures.  Joan studied Fine Arts at the Arts Institute of Bournemouth.  Her work has been exhibited in London and is to be found in private collections around the world.  She often takes inspiration from her beloved Dorset countryside and coast.
On the evening Joan demonstrated her collage and mixed media technique to create a harbour scene, using materials such as egg shells, newsprint, textured wallpaper, corrugated cardboard and paint encrusted palette liners all glued to mount-board.  To these textures she applied acrylic paint and oil pastels and crayons, also using the unusual method of spraying dilute acrylic ink using a diffuser.  For detail such as roofs and windows she used the edge of a piece of mount-board dipped in ink.  All in all a very different and imaginative approach to painting.
At the end of the evening, Carol Shaw, in thanking Joan for a most entertaining demonstration and admiring Joan’s gift for balanced compostion, said that this this was creative recycling of unique ingenuity and that the lesson for society member was not to throw anything away; it could be used to make a collage.
3rd May 2013


At its meeting on May 3rd at the Institute, the Society was entranced by the classical portrait painting skill of Warren Sealey.  Warren is a classically trained painter who began his training in Toronto, then travelled to Florence where he studied at the Angel Academy of Art, Charles Cecil Studios, and finally at the atelier of American artist Rebecca Harp.  Having previously exhibited in Italy, he now lives in Bristol and works as an artist and teacher.


On the evening, Warren took as his subject a reproduction of a painting of Rosalind Hester by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830).  Portrait painting develops an intense relationship between the artist and subject, creating not just a likeness but an illusion of life.  When executed with skill it can reveal something of the character of the sitter as perceived by another person rather than the dispassionate accuracy of the camera lens.
In the short time available, Warren showed his mastery of the old oil painting techniques, including how flesh tones and hair colour can be faithfully captured with a limited palette, typically just black, white, yellow ochre, vermillion and burnt umber.  He was able to demonstrate how to overcome the most feared aspect of portrait painting, which is how to get started!  He advocates getting paint on the canvas or board and then making adjustments, which you can do with oils, meaning that you do not have to worry about getting it right first time.  Standing back to objectively review what you have achieved so far from different angles will give you the clue as to what needs to be done next.

At the end of the evening OVAS member Penny Lamb gave a vote of thanks, in which she noted that it was wonderful to see the picture come alive and those present were so absorbed that one could have heard a pin drop during the process.


5th April 2013
The Otter Vale Art Society was very pleased to welcome Rebecca de Mendonca to its meeting on April 5th. Rebecca has a wealth of experience in the arts, including working as design assistant to Kevin McCloud, sculpting for Madame Tussauds, and painting subjects from the English National Ballet. She started in theatre design but now works freelance and lives in Devon. Until last year when she started painting horses, her themes have been people and subjects connected with the theatre.

During the evening Rebecca gave a master class and demonstration of her technique with pastels, showing exceptional skill in bringing to life a beach scene with two children joyfully playing in the surf.  In doing so she captured the feeling of what it would be like to be there.  With bold strokes and a variety of mood inducing colours she enables the viewer to experience the feeling of the wind and the sound of the sea.  Her pictures are always imbued with very great energy and this was no exception.  A photograph can be used to give an accurate, literal interpretation of a scene, but the movement lines Rebecca adds to the structure and outline of her pictures are what really bring them to life.

At the end of the evening OVAS member Penny Lamb gave a vote of thanks, which was heartily endorsed by all those present.  The following day Rebecca hosted a workshop at Ottery St Mary Primary School, at which about a dozen members of the society were able to try their hand at emulating her technique.





Pauline Hatfield, ex-chairman of the society, with Hashim Akib, following his demonstration of acrylic painting, April 2012

Otter Vale Art Society

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