Golden Wood

Golden Wood

Golden Wood

The woods are turning glorious shades of gold, helped by this spell of dry mild weather. When the sun shines here among the beech trees, the colours are exaggerated beyond belief. Or maybe this is how I perceive them from the shadows.

I knew from the outset that there was going to be a lot of shadows, especial in the upper parts of the tree. As an ‘alla prima’ painting this is always a problem, painting directly onto a wet under layer. If I had left that area blank, without the sky colour, it would have curtailed the placement of later shadows relative to what was happening in the other parts of the painting. So the entire sky was painted in.

I use Alkyd fast drying oil colours especially in situations like this. The sky was Alkyd Titanium White and Alkyd Ultramarine Blue. A small amount of solvent was added to help spread the colour. White is disastrous if it gets mixed with shadow colours. By using Alkyd, when it came to adding the shadows, in the upper left hand side, there was little or no mixing with the sky colour. To get this effect with standard oils would mean waiting a few days for the white/blue to dry. This is OK if you don’t mind waiting. I prefer to finish in a single session and don’t like going back when I’m already thinking about the next painting.

Remember, paint manufacturers are cautious about mixing Alkyd and standard oils. If you paint in the traditional way, that is, in layers, allowing each to dry before the next is placed on top, problems with cracking and flaking can occur if fast drying Alkyd is placed over slow drying standard oils.

I have heard of painters using Alkyd White with standard oils. As white is mainly used in the final layers, mid tones and highlights, this will dry quickly sealing off the under layers and retarding the drying of these layers. A brittle hard layer on top of a flexible semi-dry layer can only mean trouble down the line.

The colours used are: Cadmium Yellow, Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue plus black and white. I used solvent only with no medium. The size is 12″ x 9″.

Here’s the video. See you soon.

Dollardstown Beech

Dollardstown Beech

Dollardstown Beech

After the storms of last winter, many trees were felled by the gale force winds and many of those left standing were severely damaged to the point of being dangerous. So this summer there was widespread harvesting of timber in the affected areas. Fortunately, it was the shallow rooted evergreens that suffered the most, the native evergreens like oak and beech weathered the storm for the most part. Already the new growth is colonising the clearings but the ruts and tracks of the heavy machinery will be there for some time.

We are enjoying a spell of dry, sunny weather. I wanted this painting to be bright and vibrant. In the last few paintings I’ve used a fourth colour, Dioxazine Purple, for the summer shadows (see here). I did not include it this time and used only 3 colours, Winsor Lemon, Burnt Sienna and Prussian Blue. These shadows are rich and dark and there is a lot of contrast in keeping with this brightly lit autumn day.

Here’s the video, see you soon.

 

Riverbank

Riverbank

Riverbank

These cool Autumnal sunny days inspired me to paint this picture.

The water in the foreground was a bit of a challenge as I wanted to represent movement and vigour in an otherwise quiet scene. I tried different approaches similar to the water effect I used here but it was too placid for this scene. Finally I just mixed up a very liquid paint, mostly white, and let the liquid of the paint create the effect. It was important to keep these mixes clean as it could turn ‘muddy’ very easily.

The colours used were: Winsor Lemon, Alizarin Crimson, Dioxazine Purple, Cobalt Blue plus black and white. I used no medium just solvent to liquify the paint.

Here’s the video. See you soon.

Windy Gap

Windy Gap

Windy Gap

An explosion of light here, near a gap in the flat hills of County Laois just West of where I live. There are touches of Autumn in the air and the beginning of the season of mists.

Cadmium Yellow in mixes of Dioxazine Purple and Cobalt Blue with touches of Permanent Rose. It sounds like an exotic recipe and the resultant glowing colours are just right for this landscape.

An abundance of green is lovely in a landscape but I find it difficult to manage in a painting. In a photograph of this scene the grassy fields are like smooth carpets and I will always add a little extra growth to the grass to produce a more interesting ‘shaggy’ look. In the painting above the field on the left was one such area. In a featureless area like this, I build up the colour by gradually adding colours I’ve used in other areas, making sure that the richest, deepest shades are closest to the viewer.

This painting uses only 4 colours, Cadmium Yellow, Permanent Rose, Dioxazine Purple and Cobalt Blue plus black and white. There is no medium used, only White Spirits. For a while I was using Liquin to slow down the drying of the Alkyd colours I’m using. A better solution was to add standard white oil paint 50/50 with the Alkyd Titanium white. This white finds its way into the lighter final colours and does slow the drying. The shadow colours are better if they are beginning to dry as the painting progresses. This is helped by using solvent only which evaporates fairly quickly.

The painting is 17″ x 12″ and was painted in about 2 hours.

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

King’s River

King's River

King’s River

Another small painting of a quiet stretch on The King’s River in County Wicklow. Its a lot cooler here in the higher altitude, in spite of the sunshine, with a definite look of the approaching winter.

I’m using the edge of a painting knife to get the really fine lines on this small painting. I generally prefer to use a brush but these lines needed to be so thin and painting onto a wet background made it practically impossible. When I do use the knife I will try and disguise the mechanical look produced by the sharp edge. With so little control, after placing the paint I have to repair the damage inflicted on other parts of the painting by dragging the under-colour to cover up. Its easy when painting trees as foliage usually can be placed on top as well.

This painting uses only 4 colours (Winsor Lemon, Indian Red, Dioxazine Purple, Cobalt Blue) plus black and white. There is no medium used, only White Spirits.

Here’s the video, see you soon.

Wicklow

Wicklow

Wicklow

Here is a break from the flat agricultural land of Kildare, the hills and mountains County Wicklow. This was a clear bright evening so the treatment of paint is more direct than the last few paintings which relied on tinting the final colours with what was applied as under-colour.

The painting is small, 10″ x 9′ and was painted in about an hour and a half. There were 4 colours used (Cadmium Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Dioxazine Purple, Prussian Blue) plus black and white. There is no medium used only White Spirits. In recent paintings I’m using purple in shadows for the richness of colour. I have to be careful not to overuse it, as its a little unnatural especially in its ‘raw’ state. Mixed with yellow it produces very muted greens. Normally, greens from yellow and blue alone need a little red added to reduce that ‘artificial’ look of these colours. Purple has a red element already there so its no wonder the greens look good with the richness of a 2 colour mix.

Here’s the video, see you soon.

Orchard Gate

Orchard Gate

Orchard Gate

Although it feels like Autumn, recent rain has kept the greens of Summer. There is no hint of the typical yellows, oranges or browns so far.

This is a painting of tired greens and grey skies but what a dull picture this would make. I still wanted to represent this time of year, between the vivid green of Summer and the approaching colours of Autumn. The underpainting was a mixture of vivid harsh colour, painted with solvent. This was allowed to evaporate before the duller greyish, final colour was added. The under-colours influenced the final dull colours when brushed in, but in some places this under-colour was allowed to peep through.

I used an unusual composition by placing the point of interest in the centre and reinforcing this by placing the sun (partially obscured by cloud) directly above. Its not the ‘text book’ way of doing things but it does create a dynamic within an otherwise dull scene. The rest of the scene ‘see-saws’ about this central point acting like a fulcrum.

It has been pointed out to me that some of the subtle tints caused by blending of greys and vibrant under-colour is not represented well on the video or photograph. This is true because of the limitations of photography. The actual painting always looks better than the photograph. I wonder have these limitations influenced the way colour is used in artwork which is destined to be reproduced in print or on computer screens?

Winsor Lemon, Alizarin Crimson, Dioxazine Purple and Cobalt Blue (plus black and white of course) were the colours used here. You will notice on the video, 2 lumps of white. One is standard Titanium oil paint and the other is Alkyd fast drying oil paint. I’m mixing them 50/50 at the moment to retard the drying of the Alkyd colours, especially in blending the sky colours. Alkyd dries very fast. Sometimes a little too fast when colour needs to be manipulated as in the sky.

Here’s the video. See you soon.