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Water-mixable oils alla-prima

Paul Weaver discovers an abundance of exciting subject matter where land meets the sea and finds water-mixable oils a versatile medium with which to go exploring
Sparkling Light, Mounts Bay, watermixable oil on canvas-covered board, 8 ×10in (20.5 ×25.5cm). The backlit clouds and sunlight on the sea made this familiar view an irresistible subject

Oil paint is an incredibly versatile and forgiving medium. Applied as thick slabs of colour with a flat brush or knife, its sculptural qualities are ideal for suggesting the heavy forms of headlands, rocks and cliffs. Steep cliffs create drama and scale, with high or low viewpoints to consider. I enjoy combining blocks of colour with dragged brushmarks to suggest the weight, form and texture of the landscape.

The longer drying time of the paint allows for subtle blends and gradations of tone – perfect for painting skies and the distant sea, where edges and forms are soft and hazy. The sky is often warmer and lighter at the horizon, with cooler blues above. I block in the main colours and then use a softer brush to blend and feather out edges.

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About The Artist

Welcome to our May issue packed with inspiring practical features to help you develop your skills in all media. Watercolourists will love Bob Rudd's invented colour schemes for dramatic landscapes, Amanda Hyatt's five steps to watercolour success, with an exercise to try, Ann Blockley's invitation to inject some magic into your watercolour washes, Paul Talbot-Greaves' deconstruction into three parts of the painting of a daffodil, and Deborah Walker's test report on a new Winsor & Newton watercolour paper. Paul Riley and Julie Collins show how to use pen and wash and ink and watercolour in powerful combinations, while Jo Quigley demonstrates why working en grisaille in acrylics can be so beneficial. Portraitists will learn different ways to obtain a likeness from Ann Witheridge and Will Teather; adapt your sketching kit with ideas from David Parfitt; try painting seascapes in water-mixable oils with Paul Weaver, and more. And don't forget to enter our summer sketching competition with fantastic monthly prizes!