Diana Probst, Cambridge Artist

Studio Guests: Little Friend Susan 2

Not put off by her charcoal experience, L.F.S. returned for more.

Charcoal study of a mask, a hanging ball, a pot, and a mugWe set up a still life so that we could view it from two angles, with L.F.S looking through a gap at a pot that was not in the way of my sight lines, and also adding in a pale ball up in the ‘sky’, for a surrealist look. Her end result relied on the mask looking upwards a little, while mine depended on the cohesion of outline. We deliberately chose bold colours so that L.F.S. could practice tonal mixing. Again, we went with a thumbnail first, to decide if the whole composition would hold together. That was when we put in the pot in the background. Then we charcoaled for a while.

Paint Tubes, red and blue, by Little Friend SusanRather than jumping straight in to painting something complicated, I had L.F.S. mix up colour swatches and do a few preliminary studies to find out how paint mixed. My paints are high-quality, and some of the deeper colours maintain their tinting strength even when there is very little of them, which I knew would surprise her. She produced a few small pieces to feel the textures of thinly and thickly applied paint. We then underpainted the still life with mask, looking for dark and light, cold and warm tones.

Tonal study: a blue bottle on a blue backgroundRather than paint over something half-wet, I had L.F.S produce a tonal study. Just about everything in a very simple still life was blue; her task was to pick out every shade, mix it on the palette, and put it in place. Once she had spent half a day on that, I allowed her to go home.