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Exploring the visible

In the first of a new three-part series, Peter Burgess shares his approach to composition, including using the Golden Section, and tonal structure


Sheringham, oil on panel, 221⁄2X221⁄2in (57X57cm).

A square format can be a challenging shape in which to arrive at a settled composition. The strong areas of light and shade in the motif attracted me with their evocative patterns. I invented the presence of different coloured floats and buoys with the intention of creating a slightly surreal atmosphere

Painting is an obsession – I love the feel and smell of the paint, the magic of colours and shapes turning into an image which has never existed before. Over the years my work has gradually evolved. My tastes have always been quite catholic. Although my main interest is in various types of realism, I enjoy geometric abstractionists such as Mondrian and Robyn Denny. I also respond well to more painterly artists such as William Scott or Patrick Heron. In my foundation course I saw myself as a pop artist, greatly influenced by Richard Hamilton. In my fine art degree course I became obsessed by the Euston Road School: all paintings were made in front of the subject by direct observation, with measurement of proportion and interval an overriding concern.

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About The Artist

Welcome to the first of our new standard 80-page magazine, packed with even more inspiring practical articles to help you to improve and enjoy your own drawing and painting. In addition, this month we also include your free 16-page supplement with details of some of the best art courses and holidays available to inspire and inform your creativity, whatever your level or years of experience. So, whether you love working in watercolour, oils, pencils or acrylics, take your work to the next level with our team of passionate artist/tutors including Judi Whitton on how to use body colour in your watercolours, Haidee-Jo Summers with some useful exercises to help you loosen up in oils, Mike Barr's beachscape demonstration, Paul Talbot-Greaves on how to start with a watercolour mess and end in success, Peter Graham on why the rose makes such a wonderful subject for still-life paintings, Robert Dutton on mastering perspective for city scenes, and Peter Burgess with tips on composition and the Golden Section, to highlight just a few articles in this issue. Plus, there's so much more to guide and inspire your artistic development within our new 80-page issue - enjoy!