About and Resume
Liz Lees - Painting Methods
Drawing and Sketching
What I see is what I draw. What I draw is what I paint.
When I am out and about I see things, I remember incidents.
These stay with me until I get home and dash off a quick sketch as a reminder.
I might be able to take a photograph – but people look at me with suspicion if I don’t know them and point a camera at them. And if I had to wait until I had asked permission the moment will be gone and won’t be the same if posed.
The pictures of people often have no faces. If they had a face they would be the person I saw - Alice, the cleaner late at night in the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester - but without a face everyone knows her – your imagination works and you see your granny, mother, work colleague. Alice is hundreds of different people.
Painting in Oils with a Palette Knife.
The sketch becomes refined, the picture structured to fit a canvas and a limited palette of colours chosen. A carefully chosen red, blue and yellow with white is enough. The picture, having started so freely, is now drawn carefully and exactly in charcoal on to the canvas using grid lines.
Then the fun begins – mixing a lot of white with a tiny amount of the sky colour I use the biggest palette knife to spread the paint across the top of the canvas as if I were icing a cake. I then mix more of the sky colour and lightly take it across the raised first layer – this gives the cloud effect.
Other colour masses are blocked in with the palette knives. The knives are used to give relief to the paint and enough depth to be able to scratch into it with the wrong end of a paint brush. At this point I sign the picture in the thick paint.
I will quite often leave the painting until the thick paint has a skin. This is also thinking and twiddle time – ideally, I think a lot and keep twiddling to a minimum.
The final stages where detail is added using brushes and the palette knife is used again to skim the tops of the raised paint giving highlights to, for example, grasses.
A collaborative process. As a Designer I need to know the script and any limitations of the venue and budget. I will have an early meeting to find about the aims of the director and producer and their vision for the piece. Initial sketches are drawn up before I put together a portfolio to discuss with the production team. The process is the same for large scale theatres and for small touring companies. It is great to have the opportunity to paint on a large scale and perhaps have a team I can direct, not doing many brush strokes myself.