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Exploring the visible

As he concludes his three-part series, Peter Burgess describes the processes he uses to create a finished painting, having made choices about the composition and materials
My set up

Having spent most of my life painting in rooms with conventional windows, I now have a cosy studio in an attic with skylights. Above the principal skylight there are three spotlights, which enable me to continue working when I need additional light. These skylights face south, but I find this more cheerful than the more traditional but bleaker north light and, if the sun is too bright, there is a white translucent blind that reduces glare.

I always sit to work, finding it aids my concentration. Normally the painting is perched on a traditional studio easel, but sometimes I’ll lay it flat on my painting table if this helps. Apparently all of Mondrian’s later work was painted flat in this way. Often I will place the painting on the easel upside down because, as a right-handed artist, it is often easier to manipulate paint up to a left-sided edge if precision is needed, rather than right-sided. It also helps to see how a painting is progressing in an abstract sense. Another ruse is to look at a painting in a mirror – this helps us see the work afresh, and will often show up problems that have stayed hidden with the normal view.

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About The Artist

Welcome to our December issue, packed with inspirational workshop-style features from our team of top professional artists and tutors. This month David Curtis demonstrates an oil painting of a corner of his garden, Graham Webber shows how to paint boats in the landscape, Judi Whitton shares her 'creepy crawly' drawing methods to help you produce unique sketches without a viewfinder and Penny German reveals her tips for setting up and lighting a still-life subject. Watercolourists will love learning how Claire Harkess paints her prizewinning wildlife paintings, and how to paint a successful botanical subject using just three primary colours following Jarnie Godwin's advice. Writer, broadcaster and painter Andrew Marr discusses his thoughts about abstraction with reference to the development of one of his own compositions, as well as much more to keep you inspired, informed and, of course, drawing and painting!