Tintern Sunset – Time Lapse Painting

Tintern Sunset

The sky in this painting is glowing with an intensity which can only be achieved using oils. Its an effect which takes a bit of work to achieve. Experienced oil painters are aware of how easy it is to loose the intensity of colour when mixing too many different pigments. I use the term ‘pigment’ here because you have to think in terms of ‘coloured materials’ (pigments) as opposed to ‘colours’. I’m familiar with using computer applications like Photoshop to produce colours by mixing different colour, usually layering colours one on top of the other. Intensity is not lost in this process. In physical painting, the process of glazing produces the same result. This is where the under colour is completely dry and there is no physical mixing of the pigments.

Its this physical mixing of different pigments, as in alla prima, which can cause a loss of intensity. With this in mind, I limit the numbers of different pigments in a painting, so no matter what happens there will never be too many different materials to interfere with each other.

In the setting sun of this painting there are only 2 pigments used, Cadmium Yellow and Cadmium Red. Probably because these 2 paints come from the same source – Cadmium salts – they mix well producing an intense orange. The blue, Ultramarine, is mostly pure blue and white. The only other colour in this blue is Viridian Green which was a stain in the under painting. This helped the blue to merge into the yellow as it approached the horizon. The clouds, painted onto the blue, were a mix of the orange and blue, a colour  which was already present. The clouds were now a mix of 3 pigments and intensity was slipping, a little Ivory Black corrected this loss. It might sound complicated, but this symphony of colour was controlled by placing paint down in blobs and manipulating the mixing by dragging the paint with a flat brush. Sometimes brushing hard to pick up the under colour and other times gently dragging one layer on top of the other to cover and not mix. The most difficult part is knowing when to stop brushing.

Hopefully the video will help explain this process better than these words ever could. I think seeing the process is the only way to explain this. There is more background information on the previous post. Isn’t the technology to allow this to be explained visually wonderful? Here is the video. The soundtrack is a modern classical piece by Samuel Barber (1910-1981). I hope you like it, I think it is particularly beautiful.

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18 thoughts on “Tintern Sunset – Time Lapse Painting

  1. Hi. Very instructive to watch. I like the painting of the bridge and the sequence of how you built the reflections in the water and the bank edges. Jane.

  2. This is great! I’m away teaching a floral watercolor workshop and will be sharing your post as we’re talking about glazing techniques, color application and intensity.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise. In this day and age when so many art colleges don’t teach drawing or traditional fine art skills like painting and printmaking, it’s more important than ever that expert artists are able to share their skills and techniques.

  4. Since I discovered your blog, I look different to the clouds while walking my dogs. They are beautiful and the way they change and shine and fly reflects the great challenge of painting them. The way you do it is wonderful, thanks for putting warm colors of the sunset in this painting!

  5. This was fascinating and helpful in understanding how a painting is built up from concept, through ugly stage to beautiful painting. I am often so discouraged at the ugly stage – it has to be worked through.

    • The ‘ugly stage’ is also the most difficult part, especially if you listen to comments from well meaning observers who don’t understand the process. This is understandable, I suppose, but I’ve had more comments after the ‘ugly stage’ like, ‘Wow! I was wondering how you were going to rescue that painting’. To be honest, there are times when, deep down, I’m thinking the same thing myself, when courage is needed and the last thing you want is negativity. I find the best and most enjoyable paintings evolve from a knife edge situation, when disaster was evaded by a ‘hair’s breadth’.

  6. Pingback: Demonstration Piece – Oil Painting « PictureS

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