Virtual Art Academy

Episode 7: Marrakesh, Jemaa El-Fna

To paint loosely but still convey a feeling for your subject means you have to say a lot with just a few brushstrokes. Read this post for some tips on how to do this.

Cat. No. 1321 Marrakesh, Jemaa El-Fna – 12.5cm x 25cm – Oil on Canvas

Congratulations! Your painting, “Marrakesh, Jemaa El Fna”, was selected as part of the FAV15% (jury’s favorite 15% of the entries) in the March 2020 BoldBrush Painting competition.

I spent a day at Jemaa El-Fna market, In the video you can see the hustle and bustle of daily life.

There was so much to capture that I started off painting these micro paintings just a few inches wide, using my homemade micro pochade box. The painting above was done from these small sketches, but was still relatively small.

Painting loosely

If you want to paint loose and free, but not lose the feeling for your subject, here are two tips:

  • get the proportions of the brushstrokes correct, in particular when you are suggesting figures. You do not actually need too much detail, but the proportion of height to width needs to be quite accurate. As does the blog of paint you use to suggest the head. The typical proportion is 7 or 8 to 1 for the head/body ratio.
  • get the color spots accurate. This needs a lot of practice in color matching.

For more information

For more information on some of the techniques I used in this painting see:


    • The secret is to mix on the canvas instead of on the palette. So to adjust the color I pile on a lot of pure saturated color and use optical color mixing to grey it down to the correct saturation, or shift the temperature. Since the color is thick and pure, it will mix without going muddy, and at the same time create a nice expressive impasto quality. You have to be very careful with your composition to do this and ensure you know exactly what your notan structure is.

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