Crossing

Crossing

Crossing

The landscape is busy at the moment, lots of agricultural activity. I like the areas where it is not possible to have successful ‘commercial’ farms. There’s a wildness and charm about these unkempt places. We’ve had an exceptionally dry few weeks and where a once brisk little river served as a boundary, is no longer the case, for curious and mischievous  cattle.

This painting is small, a little bigger than some of my recent work, but nevertheless its small (16″x10″). At this size, painting details, like the cattle in the above painting, is a problem. Its not so much to do with size as with producing detail in keeping with the style of the rest of the painting. As you can see, the style is a collection of daubs and blobs, which when viewed from a moderate distance, take on the appearance of a landscape. Meticulously painted cows would not fit in with this scheme.

Its a trial and error form of painting, placing blobs of colour to give the illusion of cattle. Squinting the eyes and adding a bit, and removing another until it snaps into place is how it works for me. There must be a visual clue to this jumble of paint in order to point the viewer in the right direction as to what is happening. Here it is a single cow shape silhouetted against the reflected light which programs us to interpret the paint blobs as the rest of the herd.

Colours used are Cadmium Yellow, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Cerulean Blue plus black and white. There is no medium used, only White Spirits.

Here’s the video of the painting process, see you soon.

Tributary

Tributary

Tributary

As we move into Summer the dreaded ‘monotony of green’ has been delayed by the current dry spell. So there is a broader range of colours with green tempered by warn yellows and cool blues.

The solid structure of this composition was painted in a relatively flat mid green. There are no large shadow areas. In the final stages of the painting the flat green was altered on the palette into a range of colours by the addition of yellow and blue. These colours were mixed with large amounts of solvent and dropped onto the wet under layer of the flat green. This created even more variations by the flow of the very liquid paint, sometimes mixing or other times ‘glazing’ over the wet under colour.

There are 3 colours used in this painting, Cadmium Yellow, Burnt Sienna and Cerulean Blue plus black and white. No medium was used, only solvent – White Spirits. The areas where solvent was used extensively will dry to a very matt finish.

There are 2 possible reasons for this. The first is that the medium in the paint is carried into the ground. This is common on surfaces which are not sufficiently sealed for oil painting. Not good for the long term life of the paint layer. It is brittle and the thicker the layer the more likely it is to crack and flake off.

Assuming the surface is sealed, the second reason for the matt effect is caused by the volatile solvent migrating to the paint surface where it evaporates leaving a thin film of paint with very little medium and very little gloss. Some pigments in the paint are more prone to this so the painting will dry with patches of matt areas. The process of ‘oiling out’ corrects this by introducing medium onto this matt film. Because I use so much solvent my paintings dry with a very matt finish and ‘oiling out’ is always necessary.

Here’s the video of the painting process. See you soon.

Summer Blue

Summer Blue

Summer Blue

The season of yellow has passed. The wildflowers of spring and the many shades of yellow are replaced by the many shades of blue. Lilac and wisteria in the garden and bluebells in the woods.

The sky was painted with a thin layer of paint to allow the later layers of the foliage to sit on top without too much interference from the white in the sky mix. When painting ‘wet on wet’, this is always a problem. The white will destroy the rich shadows. The darker colours were placed on top in blobs of solvent rich paint. Any attempt to ‘paint’ in the traditional manner will cause mixing.

When it came to painting the trunks of the trees this mixing with the under colour produced the lighter shades. Just drawing the brush across the surface was enough to lift the lighter sky colour. For the darker fine tree branches I dragged some of the aforementioned blobs of paint in lines to suggest the branches. This is easier than loading the brush with paint and sketching the multitude of fine lines required.

The colours used were Winsor Lemon, Permanent Rose and Cobalt Blue, plus black and white.

Here’s the video of the painting process.

Sunlight and Showers

Sunlight and Showers

Sunlight and Showers

The landscape is a rich green. Sunshine giving the illusion of Summer interspersed with cold Polar winds.

I tried to convey the two sided nature of the countryside at this time. The diagonal split in the sky in echoed in the overall composition.

This has the same 3 colours (Cadmium Yellow, Indian Red, Prussian Blue) as the previous painting. There is no medium used, only White Spirits. The Indian Red is very necessary in the green mixes. The Yellow/Blue mix to produce the green colour is darkened by the addition of the red, great for adding contours in the green featureless areas. The problem is the dark green colours are too warm to convey shadows. The initial blue under-painting is allowed to peep through and add a coolness in the shadows.

Here’s the video. See you soon.

Bend in the River

Bend in the River

Bend in the River

Similar to the previous painting, but with more warmth in the overall colouring. This time Cadmium Yellow was used, the last painting had Lemon Yellow. Two very different yellows. Lemon is a pure yellow, Cadmium has an orange tinge. Resultant mixes are warm, especially the greens.

You will remember the last painting was on ‘oil painting’ paper. I could not let this scene pass without giving it another go on the nice rough texture of canvas. On the canvas there is latitude in the brushing, by this I mean the odd, stray brush stroke is easier to correct on the rough surface. Also there is latitude in the amount of paint that can be applied and still be manipulated to the desired effect. On the smooth surface, its easy to add too much, especially in the under layers, making later additions difficult to add on top. This is always a difficulty when painting wet on wet as I do.

This painting uses 3 colours, Cadmium Yellow, Indian Red, Prussian Blue, plus black and white.

Here’s the video of the painting process, see you soon.

The Emergence of Green

The Emergence of Gree

The Emergence of Green

Its not an overnight event, the greening of the landscape, but a gradual emergence. Its more interesting for a painter than the later green overload we get in this part of the world.

This was painted on a piece of scrap oil painting paper. I’m awaiting a supply of my usual ground which is a prepared canvas sold in pads and made by “Fredrix”, a US manufacturer, available here in Ireland. Canvas has a ‘tooth’ or texture and this makes the art of painting in oils a little easier. This ‘oil painting paper’ was not easy to paint on. Although it had a ‘canvas like’ texture pressed into the surface, it was not rough enough to scrape the paint off the brush. After a few layers of very thin paint are applied the texture is saturated and thereafter the brush is effectively sliding over the surface picking up more paint than is laid down. Allowing under layers to dry really does not relieve the situation as the texture is now non-existent and you are painting on a smooth surface.

My comments on this paper is in relation to my particular method which involves placing blobs of paint on the canvas surface and mixing and manipulating to get the desired effect. The final painting will still have the canvas texture visible so the actual paint layer is very thin but way too thick for the paper.

Remember, painting surfaces sold for use as acrylic or oil painting may be too absorbent for oils. I have found this to be the the case with all such products and in the past would ‘size’ the paper with a thin coat of Rabbit Skin Glue Size, the recommended sealant for oil painting surfaces. A simple test for a surface which might be too absorbent is to place a few drops of solvent on the surface and see does it go straight through to the back of the sheet. If it does the paper will be translucent when viewed against a strong light. There should be a little bit of absorption to anchor the paint layer to the surface but too much will make oil painting impossible as the oil and solvent soaks into the surface leaving a ‘chalky’ sticky pigment very different from the paint as it left the tube.

The colours used here were Winsor Lemon Yellow, Indian Red and Cerulean Blue. No medium used, only solvent (White Spirits). I used 2 brushes, a No. 8 filbert bristle and a nylon rigger. The painting is 12″x9″ and was finished in a single painting session of an hour and a half.

Here’s the video, see you soon.

Summer in April

Summer in April

Summer in April

It was short lived, and now, the landscape is being scraped by a North Westerly more vicious than anything thrown at us during the entire winter. There will be very few blossoms left on the fruit trees this spring and probably very few leaves either.

This method is a departure from my usual very wet method using solvent. The only time I used solvent was on the distant hills, the details of the trunks and branches of the trees, and the foreground grasses.

The colours are Cadmium Yellow, Indian Red and Cobalt Blue. Indian Red is similar to Burnt Sienna but more intense. When mixing yellow and blue to produce green, I usually add a little red to make a more ‘natural’ green. Indian Red does not mix well and very little goes a long way. After painting the darker shades, using a mix of red and blue, progressing to the lighter coloured greens using the same brush, without cleaning, provided enough red to ‘naturalise’ the green.

The same 3 colours are present in all areas of the painting. Its the proportions of each that produce the final colours. However, sometimes this can be a little dull so the very last brush strokes were tiny spots of the unmixed raw colours, mostly red and blue, to add a little sparkle.

Here’s the video, see you soon.