Duck Pond – Oil Painting

Duck Pond

Last post I was discussing the difficulty I have using Linseed Oil. This may be a problem of my own making relating to the method I employ in painting. Firstly, I am an Alla Prima painter. Secondly, I spend a lot of time manipulating the paint on the canvas. I put a layer of solvent only paint on the canvas and allow the solvent to evaporate, sometimes with the help of a hair dryer. This can be a little dangerous as the solvent is flammable and electrical equipment can cause sparks. Subsequent layers of wet paint mix with this under layer and later layers of paint. The whole process depends on the compatibility of colours and especially the flow characteristics of the medium. This is why I avoid Oils as a medium while I continue to use this technique.

The last painting had 50/50 Stand Linseed Oil and Liquin. I felt the handling was more difficult because of the oil in the medium. This painting has Liquin only and there are several heavy layers of paint, wet on wet. I pushed the technique to the limit and the handling was OK. A consequence of using Liquin is faster painting and a bonus is faster drying time. The down side of Liquin is discussed here.

The scene is partial memory and mostly imagination. Duck ponds were part of every farm yard in former times. A deep pond was a safe place for farmyard ducks especially at night when the fox was doing his rounds. The colours are: Burnt Sienna & Raw Umber (red), Yellow Ochre (yellow) and French Ultramarine (blue). Also Viridian Green, black and white. Check previous post on colours, which are almost the same as these, especially concerning Viridian.

Here is the video of the painting process. Remember its 720HD and can be viewed as a larger picture (see here about YouTube settings).

Snowdrops – Time Lapse Painting


In the last post I mentioned that the painting took 2 hours to complete, which was longer than it should have. I used Stand Linseed Oil mixed about 50/50 with Liquin. As I said at that time, the oil made ‘handling’ a little more difficult. This difficult ‘handling’, I think, contributed to the extra time required to finish the painting. It is difficult to describe what difficult handling is. If a layer of paint is put down and left untouched, or allowed to dry before overpainted or glazed, handling is not going to be an issue. Alla prima, or wet on wet painting will be a different matter completely. I complicate the process further by mixing many of the colours on the canvas.

For example, the blue of the sky is produced by laying down a mixed layer of blue and white. To this is added, on the canvas, pure blue and pure white, plus every other colour which will be used in the painting. The entire layer is manipulated and added to, until the effect is achieved. If no medium is used, the colours have to be ‘over brushed’ to get them to mix. This will flatten and remove any cloud details. Linseed Oil added to the paint mix will do exactly the same, but after very little brushing. This may be what is needed in some paintings, unfortunately, every sky will look the same if this is the only technique used in every painting. Liquin, in contrast, flows then becomes ‘tacky’ when brushed. The more brushing, the more ‘tacky’ it becomes. The whole process is controllable. Varying the amount of Liquin or solvent adds further control.

To test the benefits of Liquin, I painted another picture today. I used almost the same colours as in this painting, but with no Linseed Oil. I heaped the paint on, loads of wet on wet and it worked out OK. This painting took about an hour and a half. This painting will be the subject of the next post.

In conclusion, Liquin makes my style of painting easier. As mentioned previously, the last layer must be a vegetable oil like Linseed if I intend to varnish the painting. ‘Oiling out’ with pure Linseed Oil will cover the surface with a thin layer of oil which will harden and not be dissolved by later layers of varnish.

Here is the video of the painting process.

Snowdrops – Oil Painting


While the rest of Europe is suffering the effects Siberian weather, we in Ireland are enjoying the advantages of the Gulf Stream and its moderating influence on our weather. A little snow fell on high ground, the Wicklow Mountains got a light covering which we can see from where we are, about 20 miles to the west. The only snow we have, so far, are snowdrops. The crop this year is not as good as last year, the mild winter has got them all upset. There were even daffodils in bloom before they arrived, that must have been a shock for them, the daffodils normally bloom about a month after the first snowdrops appear. By the way, to replant or break up very large clumps of snowdrops, wait for the flowers to die back and lift them while the leaves are still green. I’ve done this  a few times when the clumps get so large they begin to die in the centres. Now there are snowdrops everywhere, a heartwarming sight. Daffodils are transplanted in late summer as bulbs. They also suffer from overcrowding so I mark these places with coloured pegs, as by next Autumn there will be no trace of where they are.

Enough of horticulture, this painting has Viridian Green in its mixes. The colours were: Burnt Sienna & Raw Umber (red), Raw Sienna (yellow) and French Ultramarine (blue). Viridian Green, and black and white. For the damp shady places, beloved by snowdrops, I needed a deep green. The snowdrops themselves are a deep silvery green. If I found a blue and yellow to produce this green I would have to have these colours in all other parts of the painting to maintain colour harmony and this might create more problems than I want. So I use Viridian, which I hate, and deal with its overbearing attitude and unnatural colour. I also added Viridian into the sky, in the blue and the dark clouds, again in the interests of colour harmony.

I always add red to Viridian, in this case Burnt Sienna, to naturalise the colour. This can have the effect of deadening the colour after further mixes of other colours, I had to be careful. To counteract any loss of colour intensity I added a little Stand Linseed Oil to the medium, which of late, has been Liquin alone. One thing I confirmed by this, is how Liquin makes painting a lot easier. The oil is ‘slushy’ and slides around quite a bit. Liquin spreads rapidly and if brushed briskly will become tacky, if brushed gently it stays liquid and if allowed to stand also becomes tacky. Great stuff, but check this post if you are, or are intending to use it.

The painting took about 2 hours to complete. This is a little longer than normal, I don’t know why. The extra hour makes the task of editing the video a time consuming business so I will have it in a few days. See you then.

River Suck – Time Lapse Painting

River Suck

As I progress through a painting, I try and use the biggest brush I can, resisting the urge to ‘go small’ too early on in the process. A small brush makes the painter think small, as in details, and this can lead to a disconnect from the bigger picture.

Big and small are relative and brush sizes are relative to canvas size. If you are in the habit of painting a particular size of canvas and you decide to, let’s say, double up on the size. I think it is a good idea to double up on the size of the brushes you will use. This is effectively a scaling up of your usual painting method and should not cause too much bother. If, however, the usual size brushes are used, you are embarking on a new unfamiliar method and as mentioned previously, could cause problems with ‘fussy’ details too early in the painting process.

Having extolled the virtues of the large brush I’m not a fan of the very large brush style of painting. This style of painting was made popular in watercolours by artists like Ron Ranson using a ‘Hake’ brush. This is a long bristled, flat, wide brush and was used to apply large washes and later, in the painting, to suggest detail using the unique brush shape. Watercolour is a medium of washes, and whereas oil painting can be made to look like a watercolour, its charm, in my opinion, is in the solid sculptural effects of the thick paste.

In case you are not familiar with this style of painting, here is an example of how to paint a blue sky with clouds. Firstly, a layer of white is painted from top of the painting to the horizon. The blue is then applied at the top of the sky, on top of the wet white and worked down producing a very regular smooth gradient because of the wide brush. The clouds are then applied by ‘stabbing’ the canvas, here and there, with the same brush loaded with white. A pleasing sky is produced, but nowhere is seen the ‘hand of the artist’. It’s machine like. The ‘landscape’ of the sky, with its mountains and valleys of clouds will never be explored and conquered.

For a beginner it looks great, a reasonably realistic sky, even on your first landscape painting. But there is a danger here. The beginner could become ‘cul-de-sac’ed. By this I mean the technique is dead ended, there is instant success so the need to learn and become more proficient is not here. I’m reminded of the painters, employed by the early porcelain and china tea set manufacturers in England, to hand paint the designs on the items before firing. The painters were required to paint the landscapes or flower designs, quickly, without brush marks and without variations from item to item. Specially shaped brushes were used for the different parts of the pictures and the skill could be learned very quickly. The results were beautiful. The same scene on cups, saucers, sugar bowls, milk jugs, plates, were all identical, even though they were painted by different people. This is what bothers me about teaching beginners this method of painting. When the end result justifies the method. Of course the beginner must have a successful painting very early on or frustration will set in and painting will stop. The above method will be quite acceptable for most beginners, but for those who are looking for more, or who feel a ‘sameness’ from painting to painting, I address these sentiments.

Here is the video of my struggle with a complicated sky. I hope, if you are a beginner, you will get something from watching the process. It can be watched full screen if the quality if turned up. There is a little more information on this painting in the previous post.