Urban Life

with Karlyn Holman

Mat Board Street Scene

Lesson Description

This underpainting was prepared by gluing down pieces of newspaper with YES Paste.  White gesso was applied with a small piece of mat board or an old credit card over the newspapers and in selected areas on the surface and allowed to dry.

 Mix a sepia tone color using Quinacridone burnt orange and French Ultramarine blue.  Using a piece of mat board, add shapes of paint to form the windows and the large shapes.  Keep cutting the end of the mat board off so you always have a clean surface to work with.  Whenever you want a soft edge, spray water onto the surface and work over it with the mat board to soften the colors. Use the tip to make more precise shapes.  Last minute, I decided to add a red color accent to the umbrellas.

This scene was drawn on location in San Gimignano, Italy.  It took over an hour to draw but only a few minutes to scrape the color over the surface.  This “alla prima” approach adds a lot of life to the subject and does not look overworked.  Any combination of compliments would create a lovely gray to scratch over the linear shapes.

Materials List
  • #20 Mat board street scene kit
  • Archival Pen
  • Acrylic Gesso
  • Newspaper
  • Mat Board
  • Yes! Paste
  • Scissors


Lesson Description

Abstracted buildings

We will take liberties with painting buildings in a semi-abstract design. We will take the rules we learned in one and two point perspective, understand them and just do our own interpretation.

We will superimpose building shapes over a fun and free abstract underpainting. We will welcome textures and surprises and unpredictable happenings. We will work spontaneously, instead of meticulously and rejoice instead of render. Starting the painting with a wet surface creates a spontaneous spirit.

The wet paper also takes away some of the intimidation we feel when we look at a dry, white paper. As you add color, it flows, moves and creates energy all by itself. Painting actual realism can be tedious and not inspiring, but by working with the suggestion of reality and not allowing yourself to get bogged-down with the precise depiction of reality, this is a big step in breaking the boundaries of realism.

This is a perfect time to show paintings that relies more on emotions, feelings, shapes, colors or anything the artist conceives to represent buildings. Many of these artists are painting their emotions more than reality. This “sense” of the subject is what I am interested in today….not the precise image.

Materials List
  • (Old) Credit card
  • Mat board pieces
  • Scissors
  • Paint roller
  • Fine Mister
  • Watercolor paint
  • Arches
  • Wax paper
  • Table Salt
  • Kleenex or tissue paper
  • Stencils
  • Watercolor pencils
  • Mr. Clean Eraser

Haven’t had enough?

More Mini Courses Available

Cave Paintings

What’s Included

• Cave Painting #1

• Cave Painting #2



What’s Included

• One Point Perspective

• Two Point Perspective

• Color Temperature



What’s Included

• Going Beyond Realism

• Negative Painting

• Still Life



What’s Included

• Waterfalls

• Fall Landscape

• Atmospheric Perspective


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