This is a painting demonstration I did as part of our local art group’s annual exhibition. I’ve had work in every one, and this is the 35th. How time flies! Every member of the group is entitled to exhibit as many works as is possible to accommodate. The range of work, from beginner to professional, is what makes for an interesting show.
I painted this picture on an easel (because it was a demo), something I don’t normally do because of the way I use solvent washes and I also video each painting with an overhead camera. Surprisingly, it worked out OK. I had visions of the paint flowing off the canvas, but it didn’t. So the solvent only method need not be confined to table top or horizontal painting.
The demo Painting (16″x14″) was completed in an hour using 3 colours, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna and Prussian Blue, plus black and white. As I said there was no medium used only White Spirits. I used Alkyd oil colours, great when fast painting is needed, as was the case here. The added bonus is that this painting will be dry tomorrow, dry enough to be ‘oiled out’, that is.
Unfortunately, for the above reasons, I don’t have a video of this painting.
South Beach, Courtown
In recent paintings I’ve been using a knife to suggest details. The sort of detail it would be impossible to paint with a brush. The surprising thing is that the context and the bits of paint supplies clues and the viewer fills in the missing bits.
This worked well for me in the painting of the people on the pier. To illustrate what I mean I’ve included a very much enlarged detail from this painting. I placed silhouetted shapes and the context suggests the shapes are people, because you expect people, you see people.
I think that the resultant images are more strikingly real than a meticulously painted figure. I proves that there is nothing more powerful than the imagination.
On the subject of the power of the imagination, another point of interest here is the brilliance of the blue of the sky and sea. This is pure Prussian Blue and white, laid down before later colour mixes were added on top. In the entire painting there are only four colours used, and in the foreground all of these were used. Some were blended and some placed as pure colour which mixed with what was already there. This reduced the brilliance of these colours, further emphasising the chroma of the pure blue colour. What is seen is brilliant blue, not Prussian, which after all, is not a precise colour match of sky blue. Your imagination sees this as seaside sky colour in a similar way to how you see the family group out for a stroll on the pier.
Here is the video of the painting process and see how easy it was to suggest the figures using the point of a knife.
South Beach, Courtown, detail about 4″ x 2.5″.
South Beach, Courtown
The weather here is great at the moment. A mixture of intense sunshine and showers. The sort of weather which makes the garden scream for attention and so painting is put on hold for a few days. The sun sets here at 10 pm and darkness falls at about 11 pm. I managed a 2 hour painting after sunset and here it is. Its 14″x10″, the colours are limited as usual, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber and Prussian Blue. As the painting has a rough look to it, when it came to painting the birds I had to resist being too careful with these, as to keep the rough look throughout.
I will post the painting video in a day or two. See you then.
The video will show this long and tedious process of construction of this scene. It is a painting of what I thought was there and not what an observer would see., which is the final painting. In a way its not a very efficient painting process. There is an entire landscape covered by the foreground and if I were to paint this scene again to look as it does in this final stage it would have taken me a lot less time. I think when we imagine a scene, we construct a world and not a flat photographic image.
Apart from sharing your working method, a video is also helpful to the painter. Its a different perspective on how you work. Like the way you would look at your work in progress in a mirror, another way of seeing differently.
Anyway, have a look at the various stages in this video. These are a few future paintings of mine waiting to be reincarnated.
A ‘constructed’ painting, this is an imaginary scene. Well, a scene made up of several bits of beautiful sunny landscape. In Ireland this is a rare commodity and now, as I paint this picture, the wind and rain is battering the house.
Because of how the composition was put together, several scenes were ‘buried’ with layers of afterthoughts. In a few days when I look at the video of my painting process, with fresh eyes, I will probably see several places I should have stopped painting. However it was good fun to do and a good learning process.
As usual the palette was limited to 4 colours, Cadmium Yellow, Burnt Umber, Permanent Rose and Ultramarine Blue, plus black and white, of course. Also similar to recent work I have not added any medium to the paint, just White Spirits to thin it and make it flow.
I will post the video in a few days. See you then.
Oil paintings when kept in the dark tend to darken in colour. Its not the pigments, its the oil. Even the bleached Linseed oil will darken a little. So when the sun shines I take the paintings out of their dark storage and give them an hour to soak up the rays. What a noticeable difference it makes. I think it also helps a bit with the drying process, which apparently, can take years.
This batch of paintings, some of them 2 years old, when exposed to the light reeked of fresh Linseed Oil. A sure sign that there is still some un-oxidised oil present and a reminder of the advice of allowing a year to elapse before final or permanent varnish.
I wonder does anyone take this advice seriously. I agree this is the correct procedure for the hard final picture varnish. I prefer to apply a temporary varnish at 6 months and frame under glass. The option is there to apply a final varnish at some point in the future when the painting is a few years old.
Paintings in Sunlight
This long drying time really necessitates using some form of accelerated drying agent in the painting. I have switched to using Alkyd paints and sometimes the painting is almost touch dry after a few hours. This paint is based on a resin similar to Liquin, a medium for standard oil paints. Just remember not to apply this as a varnish or for ‘oiling out’ as it seals and retards the drying of all that lies below it.
Here is the video of the above painting process. See you soon.
Oughaval Wood, just outside Stradbally, Co. Laois, is full of curiosities like the remains of estate walls and there is also a Mass Rock nestling in a wooded dell deep in the woods. Its also a great place for Bluebells. I was there a few weeks ago when these beautiful wild flowers were only beginning to emerge. By now, after this warm dry spell, the woods will be carpeted in Ultramarine blue. I can’t wait to go back for a long walk.
I was interested in having a strong foreground feature to emphasise the distance and the inviting light. The flowers and ferns were just right for this little job. But in keeping with the style of the rest of the painting I could not paint these features as a botanical artist would do, that is with precise details with every leaf and petal rendered accurately. I painted an impression of this clump of foliage with blobs and splashes of colour (click on photo above to see what I mean). In a way its more difficult to do than a precise drawing. I place the shadows as large areas of thin colour and begin to add the highlights, a stroke at a time with my eyes half closed, until a recognisable image begins to emerge. Its very fast to do compared to the tedious task of accurate drawing and I think for some unknown reason looks more real, to me at least.
There are only 4 colours used in the painting, with no medium, only White Spirits. The colours are: Cadmium Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna and French Ultramarine. With black and white also of course. I like the greens produced by Cadmium and Ultramarine. The ‘red’ in this blue makes a very natural green. The pure blue and white mix of the flowers are also more connected with the greens because the same blue is used throughout the entire painting.
I will have the video of the painting process in a few days, see you then.