Egon Schiele was a very talented artist from Austria He was born in 1890 and died of Spanish flu at only 28 years of age. Schiele created many erotic paintings for which he was eventually jailed. His unconventional use of colour and line had never been seen before. You can make your own Schiele painting quickly and easily, here’s how.
Schiele Exercise – Allow 1 to 1 ½ hours
What art materials do I need?
- A piece of good quality paper , I have used A3 sizd but you can use whatever size takes your fancy. Not too small is good.
- A piece of willow charcoal (easy to rub out with your finger)
- A medium sized watercolour or acrylic brush.
- A tube of white acrylic paint.
- A few watercolours. Work with either red and yellow + black and white (see below *) or blue and green + black and white. If you use colours with these combinations you will not end up with a rainbow painting. By restricting yourself with colour this way, you automatically create colour harmony without you knowing it!
- Rags or disposable kitchen towels for spills
- A palette, I used an old white kitchen plate.
- A plastic container for water.
What to paint on?
I selected a hard piece of cardboard (off the back of an old watercolour pad) and primed it with my own homemade gesso primer. You don’t have to do this; working directly on to paper is fine.
Select a photograph to paint from
Next I looked at Egon Schiele’s paintings of houses, which I love! I then selected a photograph of a similar scene and went to work.
How to draw the houses
I did a very rough charcoal drawing of the houses. Don’t worry if your shapes are wonky, you can go over them with paint later. Actually, I got lost in the drawing and eventually created my own shapes, doors and windows. I just kept on joining the lines and decided to add some crazy trees in the foreground at the end.
Let’s start painting
Next I painted between the lines with white acrylic paint. Don’t worry if some of the charcoal moves into the paint, this is what will make the painting interesting. I used the paint directly from the tube with no water to make the surface as textured as possible. This will create lovely variations in colour when the paint runs all over the place!
Allow the painting to dry
I had a cup of tea while I allowed this to dry. Usually 30 minutes is enough time. Putting the work out in the sun helps too but make sure your work is not in a dusty spot.
Let’s paint with watercolours
Next, select your watercolour tubes according to my colour recommendations above. * TIP: You can make a lovely green with black and yellow, just add white for a lighter green.
Then check out your photograph and lay colours down according to what you see. Put the background in first, then the dark colours, the mid tone colours and then the lightest colours last. Your colours do not have to be exactly the same as the ones you see. Just try to make sure the dark, mid and light tones are true to what you see otherwise your painting will look great but will only be shapes of colours. And we want houses, don’t we?
TIP: Put the watercolours down once only and leave them. Watercolour has magical properties when left to do its own thing!
Watch your paint brush create magic
At the end I went over the charcoal lines with a thin brush dampened with water. The charcoal will run and make a line. I also put in the windows by using black (with a dot of red) watercolour paint and a thin brush.
My finished painting
This is my finished painting, it looks kind of naive but I ended up really liking it. Putting it in a frame turned it into a magical piece of work totally suitable for my hallway! So put yours in a frame if you can and see what happens!
A tip used by professional artists
To make the houses come forward in the painting, paint them in warm colours. The background or sky will recede if painted in cool colours. This would require you to buy warm and cool versions of the watercolours mentioned above. Ask at your art shop if you’re not sure.
You may also like to check out a later post on how to create a vibrant and interesting still life after Schiele.