BADAS Meeting February 19th 2019

The Weatherley Centre, Biggleswade

Marie Antoniou : Puffins in Acrylic 

Artist and tutor Marie Antoniou has been painting most of her life. She is well known for her unique depiction of wildlife which has earned her numerous awards and accolades. Marie is a great champion of acrylics which allow her to explore traditional subject matter with a more contemporary approach to painting.

She is represented by several galleries and her paintings are part of many private collections.

Marie’s work features in the Complete Guide to Painting in Acrylics (2014) and she co-authored the acrylic section of Artist’s Painting Techniques  (2016) published by Dorling Kindersley. Marie is also a contributing author to the Artist magazine.

In 2013 she exhibited with the Society of Wildlife artists at the Mall Galleries in London; that same year she also won the ‘Best British Bird’ category of the ‘BBC Wildlife Artist of the Year’ competition. Over the last 5 years she has been a shortlisted finalist in the prestigious ‘David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year’ exhibition in London.

Marie last visited our Society in August 2017 painting a tiger. On this occasion the topic was puffins and she painted in her usual warm, engaging, humorous  and informative style .Her advice is to use personal reference materials eg personal photos rather than copy internet information also, to let artistic license flow so as not to get an exact copy of a photo.

Marie normally uses a canvas primed with a colour, this time dark blue. Her palette is a large airtight container which keeps large paint wells moist, and her brushes are always large to begin with. She always uses a light and dark version of red, yellow and blue and mixes her own colours from these. In addition she adds thalo green, burnt sienna and white. She mixes complementary colours to create interesting greys and uses these alongside unmixed colours .Marie prefers not to use black instead mixing a colourful dark shade eg burnt sienna with deep violet, this is useful to sketch with using the edge of a brush.

With big brushes and bold, consistent strokes Marie first created an interesting background to ‘warm up’. With no blending on the canvas each layer could be seen against the others to give mottled, jagged effects. She used the paints neat and allowed them to dry before applying more. Big awkward brushes initially produce ‘loose’ work with interesting textures, there is no need to be precise as marks are easily correctable. Corrections must be made once layers have dried otherwise too much smudging would occur. Marie uses smaller brushes to add more defining marks towards the end of the work. On the whole she advocates looking at shapes and colours forgetting the subject matter, one brush each for lights and darks, she doesn’t wash them during a piece of work as they would take up a lot of water and turn paints to mush. Wrapping in cling film keeps brushes workable between paintings and reduces paint waste.

Marie enjoys Chinese woodblock works, Japanese brush painting and the style of Mirko Hanak’s watercolour nature/animal paintings which are all very inspiring in their very effective simplicity.