Kilkea Castle – Time Lapse Painting

Kilkea Castle

What’s noticeable in this video is the under-painting of the sky with green. Its such a strong colour, when used for foliage in a landscape painting, the sky will always look detached if there is no crossover of colours between sky and ground. This is most important when a ‘tube’ green is in use, as opposed to green from a yellow and blue mix. The addition of green to the sky colour mixes would be hard to control, too much or too little can happen when mixing on the palette. With a layer of green in place, I just continue to paint the sky knowing that there will be a tinge of green in all colours added to the canvas, especially after the colours are blended together.

Here is the video. There is more info on this painting in the previous post.

Kilkea Castle – Oil Painting

Kilkea Castle

This was painted on another canvas end-piece measuring 12″ x 8″. Its like working in reverse, having the canvas shape then finding the subject to fit. This subject is a castle and its grounds, near where I live. Built in 1180 ad, it was in use as a hotel and golf course until the collapse of the ‘Celtic Tiger’ a few years ago. This lake is artificial, one of two, it was  built as part of the golf course and after the recent lack of maintenance, like the grounds,  has become a little wild. I wrote a little about this castle and the original owners in a previous post here.

A limited palette again of Indian Red, Cadmium Yellow and Prussian Blue. I also used Sap Green for the intense green. Our weather, at the moment, is rain, rain and more rain. The vegetation is lush and almost fluorescent from this ‘monsoon’ rain. The transparency of the Sap Green was used to produce vibrant shadows in the greens. I painted the grass areas with red and blue, solvent only, and allowed the solvent to evaporate (with the help of a hair dryer). I over-painted with the Sap Green (with a little red added) and the under colour was visible under this transparent layer. Definite shadows but with a little glow. I’m still using Liquin plus about 5% Stand Linseed Oil as a medium, remembering to ‘oil out’ with pure Linseed Oil (see here).

I will post the video of the painting process in a few days, see you then.

Taking Flight – Time Lapse Painting

Taking Flight

I think there is more to a limited palette than just simplicity. This painting has just 4 colours (Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Cobalt Blue, Raw Umber) and there is a clarity and cleanness which I have found, in other paintings, is reduced with the addition of more colours. This may be OK for some subjects, dull stormy days, sunsets, but for brilliantly bright days to look brilliantly bright, the paint mixes must be clean with high chroma. 3 of the 4 colours above are ‘earth’ colours and I find they mix well together. By this I mean the resultant combinations are as rich as the colour directly from the tube. The funny thing is that the tube colours themselves are pretty dull to start with but the mixes don’t get any duller.

This reduced palette is often referred to as a ‘beginners palette’. Beginners tend to prefer a wider range of colours to reduce the mixing required to match a particular colour. This is where the dullness makes an entry. Maybe this is why its a safer option to have less colours to reduce the chances of dull colours. There is a contradiction here. It takes a bit of effort and experience to get the best out of a limited range of colours. The way a limited range works for me is to pick a small number of particular colours for a particular scene. The amount of mixing is reduced and the resultant colours are rich.

Another bit of advice to a beginner is not get involved in ‘fiddly details’. I think this has more to do with getting involved in detail too early on in the painting process. Sometimes ‘fiddly details’ are an important part of a painting. This painting is one such example. The foreground details are intense to help to create distance because there is a lack of ‘lines of perspective’ in the painting.

The painting of details with a fine brush can be tedious and I will often place a reservoir of colour and use a fine brush to drag fine lines outward. For example a heavy branch of a tree can have a blob of colour placed on top and the fine branches drawn out of this blob. Multiple fine branches can be drawn quickly without returning to the palette to replenish the brush. In this painting the reservoir was outside the frame of the painting, on the masking tape. The fine lines were drawn from the blobs of paint quickly without the need to pick up fresh paint. The ease of painting allows you to concentrate on the structures. The following video shows this process and although the video is speeded-up it was a fast procedure and a lot of ‘fiddly details’ were achieved in a short time.

Here is the video.

Taking Flight – Oil Painting

Taking Flight

This summer will probably be recorded as one of the wettest ever. At least the ducks are happy. The painting is approx 18″ x 10″, actually the canvas was an off-cut of which I have many. I find it difficult to find a subject to fit these narrow shapes. Panoramic views on such a small piece of canvas tend to have a cramped feeling and with a foreground occupying the usual one third of the area this leaves no scope for a substantial sky. The weather might not be the usual holiday type but the stormy skies are spectacular.

In this composition I truncated the foreground to make space for the sky but having enough interest to draw the viewer into the scene. I’m not a wildlife artist and painting the ducks ‘wet on wet’ was a bit stressful as there was no room for error. I was trying to keep the painting of the ducks as free as the rest of the painting and this is difficult as the shapes are quite precise. I was conscious of the problem of overworking these shapes and the lack of movement which might result from this.

The colours used are Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre and Cobalt Blue. Raw Umber was also used. So as usual its a limited palette with the resultant harmony over the entire surface of the painting. As usual I recorded the painting process which I will post in a few days.

Summer Storm – Time Lapse Painting

Summer Storm

In the last post I mentioned how photographic images have conditioned how we view paintings. The cliches of photography like the limited depth of field, the blur implying movement or the limited tonal range are now becoming part and parcel of non-photographically created images. To a person who has never seen a photograph (if such a person exists) these effects in paintings would look bizarre and inexplicable. As the technology of photography improves, these effects will be removed from standard photography and will become an option to be applied if required. It will be interesting to see if the conditioning changes accordingly.

Another technological limitation of imaging which became accepted, was the way photographs were portrayed in the printed media. Traditional offset printing plates transfer ink to a rubber belt, which is then transferred to paper. You get ink or you get no ink, depending on the image. What you don’t get are shades of ink colour. For example you get a black ink image on paper or you get no ink on paper, you don’t get grey or a diluted version of the ink. To produce shades of grey, as in a photo, the photo is ‘screened’. This is where the photo is converted into a pattern of dots, and when viewed, ‘appear’ to be shades of grey.

In a way we were conditioned to see differently here as well. The ‘pointillist’ painters and artists like Roy Lichtenstein celebrated this printed media ‘limitation’ by making ‘dots’ a feature of their work. But I think this is a different form of conditioning. Its allows us to read the language of the painting without thinking that this is how we see the real world.

And what has this got to do with oil painting? I hope it explains my personal approach to oil painting. Like the paints, mediums and brushes I use, this is how I depict my version of the world in the way I do. Its a particular approach to painting, but not the only one. I don’t ‘photographically’ blur backgrounds, use ‘motion’ blur to convey movement or limited dynamic range (silhouette) to display light. But I do use these effects in digital painting, an example here.

The abstract ‘dots’ and ‘patterns’ I use are of enormous value in my paintings. They subconsciously transform in the viewer’s mind into familiar images which can convey more than just an image. An extreme form of this is here where the entire image is a series of patterns. The oil painting above is a series of abstract patterns and lines which I hope would transform in the viewer’s eye into the world I’ve created to be explored.

Here is the video of the above mentioned painting.

Summer Storm – Oil Painting

Summer Storm

The weather is depressing at the moment. The winter grain crops are nearly ready to be harvested but the rain has made the ground soft, too soft for machinery. In this painting the storm clouds are dark purple and the ground is gold. There is a reversal of tonal values. Normally the sky is the lightest area of a painting.

The colour range is larger than normal for me. There were 6 colours used. Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow and French Ultramarine & Cerulean Blue. Viridian Green and Raw Umber are also in there. The painting is 17″ x 14″ and was painted in about 2 and a half hours. Most of that time was in weaving a pattern of suggested detail, especially in the foreground. The corn swaying in the breeze can’t really be expressed visually. Photography has influenced the way we view realist paintings. A slow exposure photograph would result in a blurred image which we have been conditioned to associate with movement. Its an abstract image as the real world does not have ‘blurred’ objects, regardless of how fast the movement is.

So the pattern of jagged brush strokes in a multitude of colours and tones is an attempt at producing a ‘feeling’ of chaotic movement. The sky also has diagonal patterns to induce a feeling of energy. So this ‘peaceful’ scene (on the surface) is the aftermath of a thunderous rain and hail storm. The ground is waterlogged and the crops are battered down, and there is more to come.

As usual I’ve recorded the painting and will post next time. See you then.