The Dark Wood – Oil Painting

The Dark Wood

The Dark Wood

I’m still experimenting with ‘drawing with paint’. I may have gone a little overboard, especially in the sky. But I was determined not to do what I’m comfortable with. In the last painting I used Alizarin Crimson, a difficult colour at the best of times. This time I used this colour again plus Chrome Yellow. Not ‘Chrome Yellow Hue’ which is the modern replacement for this poisonous pigment. This tube I have in my box for the last 30 years and in that time I have not used it at all – I must have had a bad experience using it, and abandoned its use. I don’t mean I poisoned myself, more likely I found it made painting more difficult than it should be.

My one concession to blending colour on the canvas was the use of a ‘fan brush’ to soften the severity of the brush strokes. My normal approach is to use a wide bristle brush to blend colour smooth and place noticeable brush strokes to emphasise some features. See this painting and note the highlight areas of clouds standing above the smooth blended sky colour (click the photo to enlarge). The above painting now reminds me of the technique used by Paul Henry, especially the way he painted his skies of Ireland. The funny thing is that I love the work of this artist, especially his skies but I’m not comfortable with this type of sky in my paintings. We each have our own road to follow and the fun is finding it, through experimentation, trial and error.

On the subject of experimentation, another issue I’m dealing with is the need for really fine detail in small paintings. I mean leaves and tiny branches on distant trees which are just too small to paint as such, even with the help of Liquin, and have to be suggested. Here I placed the paint blobs as small as possible and broke up the colour with a sharp point. Its not ideal, but beats going totally miniaturist. I occasionally scratch features, like the wire in the foreground of this painting, and I think its OK.

The painting is 14″ x 10″ and took about 2 hours to paint. The colours used are Alizarin Crimson, Chrome Yellow and Prussian Blue. Three very strong colours. Also in there was Raw Umber, good for the browns of winter.

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


8 thoughts on “The Dark Wood – Oil Painting

  1. Hmmm…chrome yellow…I do love the way you have used it in this painting. I am unfamiliar with chrome yellow but believe I shall try it. I imagine you enjoy knowing that you still have that old tube around (I have some Naples and Flake that are old tubes as well that they no longer make anymore).

    I understand your comments about the sky, but for me I think the sky is actually giving the piece fabulous balance with the strong dark fencing as well as the busy foreground.

    Just my opinion.. 🙂

    • Thank you very much for you opinion, I appreciate it. The problem with replacing ‘old colours’ with new equivalents is that only time will tell if the replacements are up to the job. For me, part of the thrill of using oils is the fact that they will last for such a long, long time. But this depends on the permanence of the colours. This is probably more of a ‘craft’ thing than an ‘art thing’. Some modern art (incorporating dead animals for example) appears to have abandoned longevity completely.

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