After the Harvest – Oil Painting

After the Harvest

Here’s the ‘large’ painting (24″ x 18″) I’ve been working on. Although the scene appears normal, the interest here, for me, was the lush growth of the damaged trees. This damage usually caused by modern harvesting machines.  In spite of this, the trees rallied and thrived. Irelands climate is very kind to trees. No extremes and a very long growing season. This ease of growing has probably contributed to a lack of respect for trees. The international problem of the short term financial benefits of clearing woodland and mature trees while ignoring the long term soil erosion issue was a feature of the ‘Celtic Tiger’ years. The economic harvest is now over and the country, like the trees, is trying to recover.

The sky and background were painted in about an hour and a half. It was impossible to place the dark rich colours of the foliage onto the wet sky as the white in the layer was interfering with the dark colours. I had no option but to let it dry (it took about three days) before proceeding. Before the second session I ‘oiled out’ the surface with a very dilute solution of Liquin with about ten percent Stand Linseed Oil. This was to remove the dull patches caused by the drying. Remember, the first stage had no medium at all, so the ‘dulling’ of the colours, especially the darks, was extreme. The addition of the oil kept the surface wet as I completed the final stage which lasted about two and a half hours. Although the total time of painting was about four hours, with the drying time it seemed to last forever.

As in the last painting (which was a quarter of the area of this one) there were five colours used. Burnt Sienna (for red), Yellow Ochre and French Ultramarine Blue. Cadmium Yellow and Viridian pepped up the colours for this Autumn scene.

In recent paintings I’ve been painting foliage as a series of dots similar in a way to the Impressionists (Pisarro and Sisley). This is more difficult than you might think. Apart from the tedious nature of the painting, the position of these dots have to be ‘apparently’ random while still contributing to the overall design. I have a video of the process and if I use my usual compression, will last twenty four minutes. This is a long time in time lapse terms (that’s if YouTube allow it) and may mean splitting the video into two parts. I think as a learning tool every brush stroke should be recorded and therefore the build up of the painting can be seen. I’ll work something out for the next post, hopefully before the week is out. See you then.