After the Great Hunger – Time Lapse Painting

After the Great Hunger

After the Great Hunger

I was determined to paint a ‘grey only’ sky and leave it a series of grey shades. Quite by accident in the last few minutes I saw a break in the clouds and had to develop this. Another advantage of Alkyd fast drying oil paint, the white was added for the shafts of light and these were brushed until the right tones were achieved. With standard oils this track of white paint would have lifted the colour underneath and the effect of transparency would not be there.

Alkyds take a little getting used to and at this stage I am still using standard oils to finish the painting. Vigourous brushing with the oils will lift some of the Alkyd colour so there is a certain amount of mixing. I think if a little Liquin were added to the under layers this mixing would be increased. As it is, I’m using only White Spirits.

I have reduced the number of brushes I’m using, even so, if a brush is not to be used for a few minutes I’m keeping the tips of the bristles submerged in a shallow tray of White Spirits. The paints really are quick drying. Recently while washing the brushes I could feel the gritty dried paint. I reverted back to the White Spirits stage of cleaning to remove these and this worked. I’m conscious that one slip-up and I could loose a brush.

Here is the video of the process. See you soon.

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After the Great Hunger – Oil Painting

After the Great Hunger

After the Great Hunger

The cause of the Irish famine of 1845-1852 is still a hotly debated issue. In Gaelic it is called ‘an Gorta Mór’, translated as the Great Hunger. Its also referred to as the Irish Potato Famine because the failure of the potato crop in 1945 due to a new strain of blight, precipitated this calamity. As usual its not as simple as this.

This disease of the potato plant originated in Mexico, spread to the USA in the early 1840’s and then on to Europe. In all areas the crop was wiped out and although it caused hardship it did not cause famine anywhere except in Ireland. 1 million people starved to death and one million emigrated. At that time Ireland was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland – near enough to be conquered by Britain but too far away to be governed properly. A example of catastrophic mismanagement. As thousands of tons of livestock and grain were exported from the country, the population starved.

Its not that the government were unaware of the impending disaster. One historian calculated that between 1801 and 1845, there had been 114 commissions and 61 special committees enquiring into the state of Ireland and that “without exception their findings prophesied disaster” (The great hunger, p. 31, Cecil Woodham-Smith, 1991). In fact the whole world was aware of this state of affairs as seen in 1847 when a group of Native American Choctaws organised a collection to send to Ireland to help relieve the famine. These people had recently experienced their ‘Trail of Tears‘ and understood starvation.

So the scene above is of one of many such abandoned cottages of that time. Its common for descendants of the lucky ones who were able to emigrate to return to find the exact cottage from where their family originated.

This is another example of my experiments with Alkyd fast drying oil colours. I’m enjoying the flexibility afforded by these paints. In a way its like painting over several weeks of painting sessions, each layer drying, compressed into 2 hours.

As usual I will post the video in a few days. See you then.

Sliabh Bloom – Time Lapse Painting

Sliabh Bloom Waterfall

Sliabh Bloom Waterfall

Just a quick post to connect you to the YouTube video of the painting here.

I’m getting the hang of the Alkyd colours at last. It wasn’t much of a bother for me as I was doing much of the stuff that is recommended by the manufacturers anyway.

Stuff like:

  • Painting within a 4 hour period as Alkyd colours begin to loose their workability then.
  • Keeping brushes in constant use, or cleaning continually as I work as the paint is difficult to remove even in the initial stages of drying.
  • Using thin washes as a base layer to be painted over by standard oils.
  • Not keeping paint on the palette for use in the next painting session.
  • Removing completely every trace of paint from the palette and the brushes at the end of every painting session.

If you are not in the habit of working like this, Alkyd colours would be a nightmare.

Here is the video of the 2 stage, Alkyd and standard oil paint, painting session.

Sliabh Bloom Waterfall – Oil Painting

Sliabh Bloom Waterfall

Sliabh Bloom Waterfall

A range of hills to the west of where I live, the Sliabh Blooms are the eroded remains of a mountain range formed about 400 million years ago. This makes them one of the oldest mountain ranges in Europe. Before the Great Famine (1845-52) this was a very populated area. The population never recovered after this calamity. Now its a favourite place for hill walkers who like a little bit of solitude.

In this painting experiment I placed an under layer of Alkyd colour which was lightened in tone by the addition of Titanium White. This was, in a way, similar to the Watercolour technique of laying down light coloured washes to be over painted in the darker transparent colours of the later stages. From the beginning it was not going to work. Alkyd colours from the tube are more transparent and vivid than traditional oils. With the addition of white this transparency is completely lost and the resultant colour mix has a ‘milky’ look. Furthermore, the chroma of the original is also lost. If either transparency or chroma survived the mix with white, this might have worked. Without either, it doesn’t.

When the solvent evaporated the colours were set enough to overpaint in standard oils, and this allowed me to proceed with the painting. The quick dried Alkyd did help as I was able to place a very thin layer of oils not completely covering the Alkyd. This was important as I was planning to overpaint some very thin lines of trees, silhouetted against the bright light in the distance. This I was able to do without having to scrape a series of fine lines in the light coloured paint and painting into them which I would usually have to do with standard oils. This is of course if the painting is to be completed in a single session.

I’ll post the video of the process in a few days. See you then.

Priest’s Path – Time Lapse Painting

Priest's Path

Priest’s Path

The final layer of paint you see covers various experiments especially in the sky. At various stages I could have left the painting as it was but after I am finished experimenting I just can’t resist ‘rescuing’ the painting and moving it on to a point I’m happy with.

This is something similar to overworking and maybe it is overworking. The flat grey sky with a few breaks showing the blue peeping through was the plan. As the painting emerged this featureless grey of the sky became an irritation to the point I had to backtrack and add a little interest in the form of swirling movement.

Check out the progress in the accompanying video. I have completed the next painting and I’m still experimenting with Alkyd colours. See you in a few days.