View from the palace by Helen Cassidy
Helen Cassidy is the winner of the Professional Artist category in Daler-Rowney's Make Your Mark Art Competition 2010. Her prize was ten years' worth of art materials and here she tells us about one of the paintings she has created with the materials received so far.
"Whilst on holiday in Spain, my partner and I visited Granada and the famous Alhambra Palace. We had limited time, as we had chosen to use a tour bus company local to where we were staying on the coast, so I used my time taking many photographs. The views from the Palace were stunning and even if I had sketched, I think I would have got lost in its complexity. From the huge panorama before me, the part I selected held the most interest to me, with a large variety of buildings, and also a couple of vehicles which gave me scale.
I like to paint in square format, which is not easy to compose, especially with such a busy subject. I think that the foliage in the central garden area is the only quiet part of the whole scene.
I wanted to convey the warmth and Mediterranean feel of the view and the beauty of the red clay roof tiles. It was as much about the shapes created by the white facias, red roofs and verticals of the cypress trees creating one huge pattern as about portraying the place itself. I also wanted to convey these roofs in shallow 3D, bringing the lower levels closer to the viewer.
I started by painting the whole canvas with a Vandyke Red acrylic paint thinly mixed with gloss medium, to tint the canvas and warm the temperature up to begin with. Using the red as a base also enhances the greens and blues when added later. See the insert to the left – this demonstrates a mid-stage in the process, but some of the red background is visible, still to be worked on. I gradually built up the textures with modelling paste using a palette knife for the pantiles, sometimes painting over them to enable me to decide whether there was enough relief. In some cases, there are 3 or more layers of modelling paste. Some buildings were added, some removed along the way to make a more pleasing composition.
Acrylic is such a versatile medium. I like the fast drying time, because I like to over paint quickly, but when I do need to blend I can use a slow drying gel mixed with my paint to slow down the process, if necessary, so getting the best of both worlds. Both carvable and softer modelling pastes work well on the canvas and move with it, not cracking with shrinkage, so are ideal for this painting."
View from the Palace - Final painting