Birches – Time Lapse Painting


Bogland and Birches, and the first signs of Spring. This is a very small painting (11″x8″). Again only 3 colours used, Burnt Umber (red), Raw Sienna (yellow) and French Ultramarine (blue), plus black and white. This is the lower limit regarding painting size with which I am comfortable. Claustrophobic is a good description for this size. Its to do with ‘vistas’, I think. The openness of landscape is restricted. This size is not small for many types of paintings, still life and figure painting included. I was looking at the relationship between fine lines and painting size. By reducing the size of the painting the relative size of fine lines can become impossibly narrow.

As I concentrate on lines and shapes there is an interesting thing happening regarding colour, or lack of it. 3 colours are enough for me at the moment. If I have the visible spectrum covered, with red, yellow and blue, even though they are not ‘rainbow’ versions of the colours, I can achieve a realistic effect. This is very odd, considering the billions of colours in the actual landscape.

Here’s the video of the process, which lasted about an hour and a half.


18 thoughts on “Birches – Time Lapse Painting

  1. Brilliant as always – am interested to know about your set-up and hardware for making videos of your process. I’m sure you have answered this question somewhere in your posts but I haven’t come across it yet.

    • John, firstly the hardware, Camera – Panasonic GH1, MacBook Pro and iMovie for editing etc. As you know oils have a gloss which makes it difficult to find a glare free view. Myself and the camera can’t occupy the same space so the camera gets the prime glare free space which is front of me at a hight looking down. The light is above the camera and slightly behind it. I have to manoeuvre my view to avoid glare. So I paint on a flat tabletop, the camera is at the opposite side of the table and the light is above the camera. I have to have the camera within reach to stop/start and make any other adjustments. The camera is on manual exposure and the white balance is also manually read from a white card before the painting is started. Everything has to be manual as the auto settings make the camera continually adjust the settings as I’m moving about and I’d get ‘bounce’ in exposure in particular. Multitasking is the name of the game.
      Each painting session has about 50 1-2 minute clips. These are imported into iMovie, turned upside down and edited together removing the ‘forgot to turn the camera off’ parts. The movie is then speeded up by 10 times and exported as .MOV file. This is converted to MP4 by the application ‘Handbrake’ and uploaded to YouTube.
      For me the easiest and fastest part is painting the picture. But I can’t think of a better way of sharing the art. Exhibitions are limited and restrictive and incur costs which have to be recouped and unfortunately this has established an art/money connection which should not be there. I hope this is helpful, if not, I’ll answer specific questions you might have.

      • I appreciate your detailed reply – you are a true teacher. I like the idea of this form of exhibiting being a substitute for galleries – more democratic and another creative use for technology. You utilize it so well it becomes another art form in itself…

      • I agree, as artists we are obliged to use whatever technology is currently available. Traditional oil paintings must seem very dull, to most people, in this age of Photoshop etc. After all, it is a process invented in the Middle Ages. The art is in producing the work as much as the final product. I’m reminded of a conversation I had recently with a Wood Block printer. His prints were no different from B&W photocopies. I maintained that his art was in carving the block, not the prints produced, which, as far as ‘the man in the street’ is concerned, modern technology has made redundant. Thanks again.

  2. Very striking piece! I am a big fan of limited pallettes. Do you use a tube black or mix your own?

    I admire the emotional sharing with regards to claustrophobia…I have those same feelings when I paint small.

    • Thanks Catarzina. I use tube colours (Windsor & Newton). I did make Titanium White many years ago for priming and painting. In those days I had more time to do the materials like paint and canvas from raw linen. Now I take the easy route.

  3. I love your paintings. I will like to know if you can list the colors you use for snow -winter painting – and water. I am new student and I have problems know which colors to use for snow, water, and stones. thank you so much. Thank so much for your videos. cpmt

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