Tuesday 24th Jan 2017 “Truth Cloak” progression

By   January 30, 2017

I love to teach art. With conditions changing here at home I have had to discontinue my regular teaching schedule and only offer the occasional workshop, so thought I might be able to continue to help people with their creating of art through a blog.

I miss the interchange of ideas and the friendly positive atmosphere of people creating and learning together, so maybe the blog can keep some of that flowing.

I intend to write instructive lesson-type items once or twice a month, and will welcome any queries as a leg-up to the developing of a topic. Feel free to send in a work with which you are having trouble (as long as you are happy to share that image on-line) if you wish for me to comment and offer advice. It is my fervent wish that many who have attended my classes and workshops will avail themselves of this, and take up the opportunity to ask me whatever it is that may assist in the attainment of a sense of achievement in your work.

Anything I write, of course remains copyright, and cannot be used by others without permission and acknowledgement.


First thing is to get your head in gear. Hopefully regular students can hear me in their minds saying “Concept. Construction. Creation.”

Concept – Define and name what it is that you want to visually depict every time you set out to work. It can be as straightforward as “paint an orange with a traditional appearance” or as abstract as “show my exasperation with this person through colour”.

Construction – This concept is then the springboard for every decision involving the construction of the work – what medium (oils/ acrylic/charcoal/pastel/mixed ?); what surface (paper/canvas/canvas paper/old canvas gessoed over?); what size and format (large landscape/small portrait/ miniature square?); will it have an underpainting?; do I exploit texture?; how will I arrange the objects (Golden Mean/ triangle/lyrical?); will I work from my photo, arrange a sitting, use my imagination?; what palette of colours (monotone/ greyed complementaries/ loud and pure?); will I be in total control or will I allow some surprises in technique? etc.

Creation – Then you are in charge of the direction of your work. You have a plan, and you have a concept on which to check back on how the work is progressing according to that initial aim.

Second thing is to clear a space in which to work, where you feel loose, don’t have to worry too much about making a mess, and can concentrate on the process. If possible, have an area that remains set up for your work – it is difficult to deal with having to clear off a desk or table, place down a cover for the floor, and then set up everything for your painting when you are fired up to begin – sometimes just thinking about having to do all this can even kill the desire.

Third thing – get going. Don’t put it off – once you make yourself begin, you will probably get lost in the activity. Sometimes I find, especially when tired, that I only have to do something like gesso an old canvas, to tune myself up to be ready to create.

Demonstration – Truth Cloak – here is a demonstration of a work from start to finish, that shows the inclusion of symbols to enhance the portrait.

On a piece of Art Spectrum Soft Umber Colourfix paper, a quick sketch is applied to place the figure.

A collage is layered, including snake skin, with binder medium.

Atelier Free Flow (because of the matt finish and ability to receive pastel) is washed in. A black swan motif (Maroochy’s name means “black swan”) is incised into a piece of Styrofoam and printed on to the surface with the same colour Free Flow. Art Spectrum clear pastel primer is applied over the collaged elements, not only to restore the tooth, but to place a matt surface over the shinier areas

After the paper was removed from the board and allowed to flatten out, the drawing is established with charcoal and conte.

Using soft pastel, the lights (burnt umber on the skin; and burnt yellow ochre on the kangaroo skin cloak) and the darks (Prussian blue in the hair and cloak; and burnt umber in skin) are established.

Terracotta is added to the cloak, and I began to work on the face, hair and hand, which are intended to be a softened and blended contrast to the cloak.

Yellow ochre hard pastel is scribbled over the cloak, in various directions following the fur growth. Gold ochre soft pastel is glazed over the background to begin to bring it all together.


Detail of the yellow ochre hard pastel scribble marks.

“Truth Cloak” 68 h by 48w cms

4 Comments on “Tuesday 24th Jan 2017 “Truth Cloak” progression

  1. J

    Wow this is fabulous! Just out of interest, how does breaking my canvas into thirds help in engaging the audience? And where do I put my horizon?

    1. Tricia Reust Post author

      Dear J,
      Thank you for taking the time to reply. Basically, what you are describing is the Golden Mean ( mein) – dividing the canvas or surface into thirds, and placing the focal point on one of the resultant four intersections of these thirds, while at the same time placing a secondary focal point on the diagonally opposite intersection of these thirds, resulting in a balanced composition. The viewer is more likely to be engaged in a balanced composition rather than one that is out of kilter.
      The placement of the horizon is also usually on a third – it is very difficult to balance a composition where the horizon is exactly in the middle, for example. It depends on whether you are using your canvas or surface in the portrait format or landscape format too, and employ a high or low horizon, with what you are depicting and how you affect the viewer.
      In my book “Landscape as Story” I go in to these – I will write my next blog on these with excerpts from my book, with accompanying images. Thank you again for replying!

      1. Tricia Reust Post author

        Dear @J,
        am getting used to it! I l haven’t alerted my former students and workshop attendees as yet – still finding my way around the technological aspects, but thrilled to be trying out this way of keeping in contact with everyone.
        Thankyou for your interest!

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