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past meetings

August 25, 2017

Santa Rosa artist Bill Gittins has been sketching and painting since the mid-1980s, and his work has evolved from experimental abstract scenes in watercolor and acrylic to primarily landscapes and seascapes in oils. He enjoys painting plein air as well as in the studio.


Bill had the group select one of several photos he brought to demonstrate a quick landscape study in oils. His supplies included Gamblin oil paints,  Gamsol odorless solvent, Isabey brushes, Grey  Matters paper palette and small palette knives. Bill used ultramarine blue, alizarin crimson, cad yellow light, Naples yellow, raw umber and titanium white along with a few highlight colors to have fun and draw the eye.

Bill first sketched his composition using Naples yellow in the foreground and blue for the background mountains. By using blue the sky doesn't turn green. Bill likes to layer in his darks and shadows first - dark to light. He started filling in the foreground (bottom of painting) and then turned the painting upside down while layering the sky to keep paint from dripping on the foreground.


Some other painting tips that Bill offered:

  • paint brush strokes with slope of terrain to get more 3D effect

  • roll brush while painting to get more interesting stroke (not as flat looking)

  • use a dry brush to soften edges

Bill always mixes his greens, no "tube greens". He remarked there are over 600 greens in nature and often uses cad yellow light in the mixture to find the green he likes. Another favorite color is Indian yellow, which is transparent and mixes well with Naples yellow and titanium white.


Bill might paint 3 to 4 layers of glazes to capture the water - adding water lines and reflection highlights. The distant tree line adds depth and softens sharp edges in the background. Toward the end of the painting, Bill adds his highlight colors to have a bit of fun and draw the eye to specific areas. Using a dry brush, Bill gets grasses to pop up in the foreground. He uses a small palette knife to scrape paint he's not happy with and then repaints. Bill also demonstrated using the point to add detail by scraping small areas to get texture. He also used the edge of the palette knife to apply paint with pleasing results. Bill suggests experimenting with the palette knife to have fun and get creativity flowing. Thanks Bill for an informative and captivating demo!

Bill is a participating artist in the Sonoma County Art Trails Open Studio Program held each fall. His painting, “Sunset Along Poppy Creek” was selected as the cover image of the “2016 Art Trails Collector’s Guide”. Please visit Bill at his studio this year (Studio #28) October 14-15 and October 21-22 from 10 am to 5 pm. More information on Bill's website