Hazy Days – Oil Painting

Hazy Days

Thankfully the weather has been good for the last few weeks. The harvest is late but getting there. Days start in mist and end in mist. This scene is one of those places you pass every day and never see it. Then once by accident you stop, and look and there it is, a subject for a painting. Making a painting from ‘nothing’ is particularly satisfying and this painting is also from a limited range of materials. Just three colours, Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre and Cobalt Blue for the bulk of the painting, with a few strokes of Chrome Green Light in the foreground in the last few minutes of painting.

As with recent paintings there was no medium used, just White Spirits. I’m very happy with this method at the moment and I’ll continue to use solvent only. The only drawback is the amount of time spent waiting for the solvent to evaporate. Speaking of which, the ventilation is most important particularly as this is not ‘solvent only’ in the traditional sense. This is floods of solvent sitting on the surface of the canvas, which is flat on a tabletop. I started this tabletop method when I began video recording the painting process over a year ago. The biggest restriction is the canvas size. A 16″ x 20″ is probably the largest ‘comfortable’ size. I could of course lie the canvas on the floor!!

The actual painting time was about two hours, spread over four hours. I’ll have the video of the process for the next post. See you then.

Wayside – Time Lapse Painting


This painting borrowed much from the watercolour technique, where large areas are covered by washes and the details are painted on top, sometimes on the partially dry layer but also on the very wet under colour. As mentioned in the previous post, oil colours are not designed for this treatment so its restrictive.

However, having explored this treatment of oil paint does add an extra range of effects which can be applied in certain paintings or maybe areas of a painting, painted using traditional oil painting techniques. Shadow areas in oil paintings are usually ‘blocked in’ in large flat areas. Details are added into these areas as the painting progresses using mid tones and later highlights (opaque colour with white added)).

In contrast, this treatment uses the shadow colours as final layers allowing the colour of the white canvas to show through transparent ‘washes’ to create form in these shadows.

In my next painting (just completed), I used this ‘watercolour’ method in a shadow area, finishing in a traditional oil painting way and its looks just great –  if you don’t mind me saying so myself. But that’s for the next post, in the meantime here’s the video of the painting of this picture.

Wayside – Oil Painting


Hedgerows are a great source of wildlife in this part of the world. Because of the lack of cultivation, fertilization and grazing there are rare species of plants surviving here simply because of this lack of use. As the hedgerows are as old as the roads they belong to, some are thousands of years old.

This is another painting using the ‘solvent only’ method I’ve been experimenting with, over the last few weeks. It’s been an interesting project. If you were following the recent posts you will know that I decided to stop using a medium (eg. oil or Liquin) and use solvent only.

As with any method there are advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage is the element of random interesting patterns and shapes that happen when the solvent flows and carries the paint. Modern watercolorists  use this to great advantage using water of course, instead of solvent. Thin washes of transparent watercolour also have a great luminance. Oil colours do not. This is because the watercolour pigment is more finely ground resulting in more intense colour. Basically, oil colour is not designed to be used as thin washes and so the range of oil colours of sufficient transparency is small. In oils, the shadows are recommended to be transparent. But the lighter colours need opaque white in the mix to have an intense colour. Transparent oil colour as highlights does not work very well.

An example of this can be seen in the painting above. The road was a transparent wash of Raw Sienna with a little black added. I reviewed the final painting and this area was so weak it looked like a river and not a solid road. A mix with white was placed on top and although the tone (darkness/lightness) was the same there was now a solidness in the paint layer which suggested a road. Here and there, you can see transparent colour trying to be a highlight. The orange colour on the left side of the road is a mix of Raw Sienna and Burnt Sienna. This works here because its in partial shadow. It was not working on the right side (in full light) so a mix with white was added.

What I’ve learned from this little exercise is to pay more attention to the ‘drawing’ of the shadow details and not to just ‘block in’ these areas. Also, if an area of shadow accidentally looks finished because of partially transparent areas, I will leave it as it is, not insisting on applying final highlight colours with opaque white added.

I will post the video of the painting process in the next few days.