Nick Archer Portrait

First Portrait of the year

I am glad to be back painting at the start of my last year in the Portrait Diploma.  Our first assignment is a traditional portrait set up taught by Nick Archer (, who was commended in the BP Portrait competition (1998) and won the ING Fresh Eyes competition (2008). So far the main areas of focus have been:

Mixing beautiful and clean colours.  He says mix colours needed before starting painting, only with a palette knife, never a brush,  use colour complements rather than black to darken paint.

Focusing on where the large contrasts are, colour and tone.  Especially observe the beauty of the brights in the image.

He is enthusiastic about working with the right colour complements, to which end he recommends the Munsell colour wheel, which shifts the standard colour complements slightly from the more usual pigment colour wheel.

I am particularly relieved that he recommends mixing most of the colours before beginning to paint.  This is the way that I life to work, but many teachers do not like going that way.

I used this session to refine the way that I paint as well as experiment with a cool (green grey) ground.  I started with a structured drawing, transferred it onto the canvas, then focused on building up areas of colour and tone, using the drawing as a positioning guide, but not sticking to it.  Finally, working through areas of the painting bringing up the details and resolving the patches of colour with each other.  In the end I felt comfortable with both the process as well as liking the cooler ground

HeatherlyPatrick Earle