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Demonstrations by Brett Hudson

Humorous w/c
2005
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History Page
Caricatures
2012

Visit him at www.bretthudson.co.uk

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Caricatures - Friday 11 May 2012
It was good to welcome Brett back again. He had explained his personal background to us back in 2005 (below) and there's plenty more on his website, so I won't repeat it here.

Although our published subject was caricature, Brett has found it best to give over the main part of his demo to explaining his painting method, showing numerous examples of finished and part-finished work - lots of laughs. Again, there are plenty of his paintings on his website.
Although he may use recognisable landmarks, his pictures are all mostly imagined. Perhaps because children make up one of his main audiences he likes to fill every available space with the little interesting details they love.

But even if we can decide, without references, what details to use, most of us can't just make them all up. Brett makes extensive use of sketch books, photos and even cuttings from magazines. How else are you sure your gull, lobster pot, wheelbarrow or falling person is convincing?
His sketchbooks use pencil, pen and watercolour - whatever is handy. They include everything from very realistic drawings of people, animals, buildings, landscapes and smaller objects down to countless trials of how to represent these in the more cartoon form he would put them into a painting.

The piece he worked on throughout the first half was a view of Bosham harbour. He'd used a photo to make the basic shapes of the buildings recognisable but the foreground detail was all imagination. As he explained his technique, he was adding more and more thin glazes of colour to the painting - adjusting colour, strengthening shadows and so on.
He gets his composition right by deciding first on the main areas (background, foreground and so on) and then lightly blocking things in in pencil, with very broad shapes (rectangles, ovals and so on) to capture positions and movement. Then he tightens these up, gradually introducing detail into the rough outlines. This pencil process is demonstrated in marker pen below by drawing first in one colour and then a different one for the next stage.

Only when he is satisfied that the drawing is near enough right will he make the final marks in indian ink. He favours an old-fashioned dip pen because he can get lines of different width by varying the pressure on the paper - heavy enough, if he wants, to feel with a small brush during the subsequent painting.
Brett uses a fairly limited watercolour palette, perhaps seven colours, but always mixed - he doesn't like them to be obviously straight from the tube. His red tends to be alizarin crimson. For blues it is ultra and cerulean. There are yellows like ochre and burnt umber and, instead of black, indigo. Watercolour pencil is also useful to strengthen areas that seem a bit flat.

He uses fairly small brushes, sables, up to about size 6 or 7, to put on his thin washes of colour. He says he works top-left to bottom-right and advises starting to put the colour in the middle of areas and then stroking it out to the ink line.
After the coffee break he spent a few minutes showing how different expressions can be established while you are still in the blocking in phase of a cartoon.

Brett finished the evening by producing a marker-pen version of what would normally be his pencil drawing. Much of the planning that he had mentioned earlier was already in his mind and so there was no rough blocking-in to establish the composition. He went straight into a house, foreground people and bushes, then the garden, working left to the right, adding features as we suggested them, but leaving the top empty until he was ready to surprise us by making the scene a seaside one.
Some final comments:
A fairly high viewpoint allows the painting to include things at all distances. In the world of caricature you can distort the normal rules and show distant things at a larger scale than true perspective would allow.
If you find you have unfortunate accidents (say lines meeting awkwardly) cover the area with an extra feature (a dog or a pot, perhaps)
Find out what you can of the subject, so you can bring in relevant features - people love it.

So ended another interesting and often amusing evening. Thank you, Brett.
Sam Dauncey
Humorous w/c
2005
Back to
History Page
Caricatures
2012

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Humorous Watercolour - Friday 18 March 2005
Brett is primarily a humorous illustrator, selling much of his work to publishers of children’s books. He also sells many originals and series of individually hand-coloured prints. Thelwell and Giles were originally his main inspirations.

Having a love of drawing, he starts with observation of people and situations and makes several sketches to settle the content and composition of each work. His sketch books, mostly done in Indian ink with a dip-pen, contain many pages rich in shading, but the starting point for a painting is an un-shaded Indian ink drawing on watercolour paper.
For his book illustration commissions, consistent colour is vital and so, out of habit, he routinely uses a very limited palette (perhaps 6 colours and a couple of “specials”). This gives consistency throughout a series but also leads to harmonious colours within a single work.

He applies his colour fairly strong but generally blots it with toilet paper as soon as he feels it has soaked into the paper enough. This blotting speeds drying and can also give texture.
Further layers are, in effect, glazes which gradually adjust the tone and hue across each of the areas defined by the ink outlines. Alizarin crimson and yellow ochre formed his skin colours, indigo gave uniform dark blues (very useful), cerulean provided a very useful lighter blue.

Ultramarine and yellow ochre was also another useful mix whilst indigo and yellow ochre gave a slightly green/brown “base” colour. One of this week’s “special colours” was cinnabar deep green which he used as the base for some of his foliage.
He usually works on a sloping drawing board so that paint does not pool.

Using no brush larger than a No.7 sable, he had the knack of quickly covering a large area, systematically working into wet edges and leaving no uneven patches of colour.

Smaller cheaper brushes (No.3 was the smallest) gave most of the detail but watercolour pencils could be used to harden some of the colours.
Hints? He likes to finish the drawing for one picture before finishing the previous painting (this avoids blank-sheet-of-paper syndrome). Imagination is vital for this sort of work. He prefers to look on-site and draw at home, so as not to get bogged down with detail.

You can combine backgrounds and people from quite different places – he is not averse to getting thatched cottage ideas from “Country Life” as background for caricature people. He works out composition and most of the detail in pencil, using simple shapes, even for the busiest pictures (lots of things happening). Only when every major feature of the pencil drawing suits him will he draw the ink outline.


. . . at this point time ran out.
Humorous w/c
2005
Back to
History Page
Caricatures
2012

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