Woodland – Oil Painting


Back in the claustrophobic chaos of the woods. This is a scene from memory and imagination. I was always fascinated by these tall bridges. Old, stone built and much taller than was necessary to transverse the miserable little streams. Usually found in areas of former industrial activity, like coal mines or quarries. Of course the reason is obvious when you think about it. Horse drawn wagons bearing heavy loads have to have level roads. A winding road down to a little bridge and back up the hill on the other side would not be safe for a horse drawn wagon with 10 tons of coal or slate. So the bridges were built up to road level. Obvious, really!

This painting took about 2 and a half hours to complete. I like the intensity and complexity of detail in woodlands. I try and reflect this by building up layers of random brushstrokes. Continually passing over the surface placing bits of colour and trying not to loose the items in the scene. Even the shadows are a range of different dark colours from almost pure black to brown and green. I try and achieve a consistency of chaotic brushstrokes, a bit like harmony of texture, over the entire surface of the painting. By the way, when you see the video (next post), notice how dark the painting becomes and for how long. The lighter colours are really only added at the end of the painting session.

On the subject of harmony, colour harmony this time, the colours used were: Burnt Sienna & Raw Umber (red), Yellow Ochre (yellow) and French Ultramarine (blue). Also in the mix was Chrome Green Light, plus of course, black and white. A minor problem caused by the 2 hours + of painting time was the dark colours begin to get lighter as the solvent evaporates. (See here about ‘oiling out’ an oil painting to restore the correct colour tones). I was using Liquin only and this is not as good as oil at retaining the deep oily dark colours. But using Linseed Oil would have made this painting a nightmare. As you will see in the video, even Liquin had difficulty dealing with the layers of wet paint on which I was overpainting. The trees on the right were refusing to be painted. The brush with the dark paint was picking up the light green of the background and no dark colour was going down. I just continued to ‘paint’ the shapes of these trees, which was in effect, removing the under paint leaving a ‘phantom’ tree shape. The second attempt at placing the tree colour was then more successful.

Near the end of the painting time, I was worried about he shadow areas not been deep enough in colour. As I was saying previously, the evaporation of the solvent was raising the tone of these dark shadows, especially any of the mixes which contained black, so I added a fresh dark brown colour into the areas which should have been the deepest shadows, just to be sure to be sure.

Until the next post, adieu.