Techniques of the masters brought up to date

Sonia Bacchus

Sonia gained a masters degree in Fine Art at her home town university of Lodz in Poland

Quoting Sonia "The inspiration for my work is from the Old Masters, I appreciate their attention to detail. I like the light in Rembrandts work, the subtlety of the soft light in Vermeer's paintings. My paintings are figurative, metamorphic representation. The main key to my art is the relationship between light and shadow. Colours are also a very important aspect of my work so I use them sparingly with respect and with the knowledge of the relativism."

For the demonstration, Sonia first set up a simple still-life arrangement with side lighting to produce interesting shadows. She then quickly made a small sketch using pencil and paper primarily to position the items on the page/canvas. Still using the pencil she lightly drew the paper image to a pre primed board. She then used acrylic diluted with water to roughly block in the main elements of the composition


Sonia then painted the cloth the still life items were standing on using mostly thin horizontal brush strokes


When the acrylic was dry, a further application of the cloth colour was then applied using vertical brush strokes to suggest the warp and weft of the material. Further detail was added to the copper mug, the egg, and the bottle using acrylic mixed with gloss medium. It is important to closely observe details, for example the shadow on the egg picks up a hint of green at the top reflected from the bottle and lower down picks up a reddish brown colour reflected from the copper mug.

According to Sonia it was quite common for the old master oil painters to do an underpainting with tempera so in this demonstration she is replacing the tempera with acrylic.

After the tea break, Sonia moved on to the oil painting stage. For this she used a mixture of four parts turpentine to one part linseed oil as her painting medium.


More work is done on the background and a warm glase added to the foreground. A red-orange glase is also added to the mug.

The highlights are added to the bottle and more details such as the reflection of the mug handle on the mug itself. Finally the reflected highlights are added to the mug, and darks added to the bases of the objects to sit them onto the cloth.


The finished demonstration compared with the the real still life arrangement

A close up from the centre of the demonstration.

Sonia also brought a number of her paintings to the studio for Guild members to see.

Altogether a most enjoyable evening was had by all.