After the Rain
Rain, rain and more rain. I’m not complaining. The recent drought took its toll on all manner of vegetation, from grass to the mighty oaks. There was even a mini-fall with autumnal colours, in July, very strange. Now there is new growth and the rich greens of spring are here again, in July.
Viridian and Cadmium Yellow are added to the colours to convey this lush landscape. Also in there are Burnt Sienna and French Ultramarine. Just 4 colours to produce this nice harmonious landscape. Green is a difficult colour to keep ‘natural’ in a painting. As I said I used Viridian and such a strong ‘unnatural’ colour has to be moderated to produce what could be called ‘natural’. I find there needs to be a little red added. In this case the red was Burnt Sienna. I also placed pure blue, initially as an underpainting layer which was not completely covered over, and also pure raw dabs in areas where the green would be overpowering, as in the foreground here.
The composition is fairly straightforward. The centre of interest about one third in from the edge with balance restored by a smaller version of the trees on the far river bank. The effect produces a restful, non challenging layout in keeping with this rustic scene.
I videoed the painting process, as usual, and will post in a few days, See you then.
Up until recently I used Liquin as my oil painting medium. It had many advantages, like quick drying, but what I liked most was the lack of the ‘greasy’ effect caused by the oils like Linseed. As a result, any reference to Liquin in the forums I visit, always grabs my attention. I still have suspicions that its not the miracle medium to solve all my oil painting problems. I have come to the conclusion that only time will tell if it is a safe replacement for the standard oils.
The time honoured rule of ‘fat over lean’ works well with standard oils. This translates as the final layers of paint having a higher oil content and therefore are more flexible sitting on the less flexible foundation. Also, the under layers dry quicker so you don’t end up with a skin of dry paint over a wet under layer.
Introduce Liquin and the old rules no longer apply especially if some paint layers have Liquin and others oil. Liquin as an under layer dries quickly like the ‘lean’ but in its dry state is more flexible than the equivalent oil. Used in final layers it will eventually be more flexible than oil based under layers but will dry so quickly it will seal off any oil layers underneath and restrict its drying. I can see why Windsor & Newton recommend not using the different mediums in a painting.
For a long time I put a few drops of Liquin into Linseed Oil and mixed them well together. This would seem to be a safe way of using Liquin and oils in the same painting as the effect of the Liquin is applied uniformly.
My current working method does not have any of these issues. Firstly, I don’t use any medium at all, and secondly, I paint in a single layer, or alls prima, as its called. Be careful if you paint in distinct layers. If Liquin is used with other mediums I would make up a batch of the mix, enough for the entire painting, and use it from first layer to last, applying the ‘fat over lean’ rule. Also, if the paint is required to flow, use solvent not medium to thin it.
Here is the video of the painting process. See you soon.
We had our storm and maybe a little too much rain and now the landscape is like a rustic romantic scene. A period of plenty and lazy lushness. The recent long hot spell caused much premature withering, resulting in some of the colours of Autumn. However, green has returned with the rain and all is right with the world.
In keeping with the rustic pastoral paintings of the 19th century, I conjured up this idyllic scene. Its a collage of various places some of which have been in previous paintings. The treatment is much different from the classical style and borrows much from the later Impressionists. The composition is also less formal with several areas vying for the attention of the viewer. Hopefully the central activity is strong enough to hold the scene together.
The painting is 20″x16″, painted in a single session on Fredrix Oil Painting Canvas. A limited palette as usual, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber and French Ultramarine. Again there is no medium used only White Spirits solvent.
As usual I videoed the process and will post in a few days. See you then.
Prelude to a Storm
Colour can create atmosphere and I was trying to convey that pre-storm mugginess in this painting. There are no clean clear colours especially in the sky. Its a little bit tricky as a disastrous mess is never too far away. As you will see in this video I placed quite a lot of green (Sap Green) straight from the tube into the sky area. The next hour was spent gradually bringing this back to an acceptable sky colour. Once this was reached I progressed to the painting of the lower part of the painting. The same four colours, used in the sky, were used, but the proportions of each were different of course.
In conveying an atmosphere or feeling in a painting, apart from colour, the composition can help in a less dramatic way. This composition does not follow the classical rules. There is a knife edge balance. If we view this layout in purely abstract terms the shapes are balanced on the point of the triangle formed by the road. Its a bit like a see-saw, as the different elements are placed on one side of the fulcrum, the balance is upset and has to be restored by placing something on the other side. There were several times, in the early stages of the painting process, when the balance was completely askew. Before the leaning branch of the tree was painted was one such occasion. So you have to flit around the the entire surface, not concentrating too much on one particular area in case its pushed so far the balance cannot be restored. The end result is an ‘unease’ in the landscape which is the point of the painting.
Here is the video of the painting process. See you soon.
Prelude to a Storm
Cumulous clouds are gathering and there is an ominous expectation of a thunder storm. We have had extremely high temperatures and a ‘drop’ of rain wouldn’t go astray. Even a few drops would do, but any heavy rainfall will lead to flooding as the ground is baked hard and resistant to soakage.
I was attempting to convey something of the heavy humid air in this landscape. I used Sap Green in every part of the painting including the sky. I did not want the clear light normally associated with sky colour. Sap Green is a clean transparent colour and not too strong like Viridian. When mixed with the other colours it produced a harmonious range of greens. In isolation the sky is also green but different from the solid greens of the ground. The other colours are Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna and Prussian Blue (plus black and white). There is no medium used only White Spirits.
The painting is 20″x14″ and took about 3 hours to complete. The video will be ready to upload tomorrow, see you then.
Bridge at Kilkea
Shimmering light and the buzz of high summer is the inspiration for this painting. There are preparations to harvest the winter corn, now in the final stages of ripening and the spring crop is in a state of arrested growth because of the lack of rain. The yields will be low this year.
A 3 colour painting again. This time the dominant colour is Cadmium Yellow. Its a standard oil colour as there is no Alkyd version. The blue is also a standard oil, Cobalt Blue, for the same reason. The third colour is Burnt Sienna and it, with the black and white are Alkyd colours. Again there is no medium used only White Spirits.
Here is the video of the painting process, which took about an hour and a half to complete, compressed to about 8 minutes. The size is 16″x12″ painted on Daler-Rowney Oil Painting Paper. As I mentioned before this seems to be too absorbent for standard oil colours but works well with Alkyd colours.
See you soon.
As you are probably aware, for the last few months I’ve been using Alkyd quick drying oil paints. I like the way they work on the canvas as well as the speed of drying. These paints are not very popular with oil painters, who actually like the slow drying of standard oils. The principal use of Alkyd seems to be for underpainting, if you want to paint on a dry under-layer. If the colour is applied as an underpainting using solvent only, in 24 hours the layer is dry enough to proceed to the final stages. Acrylic paint is sometimes used as an underpainting but I think this is better as you are using a compatible paint which can be mixed with final colours if required. Although there are differences they are still the same medium.
The most popular Alkyd colour is Titanium White. Apparently many oil painters use this instead of the traditional white to speed up the drying. As white is usually used in the final layers and highlights these quick drying layers will be completely dry long before the under layers are dry. This is a recipe for cracking and flaking similar to using Liquin in the final layers of a multi layered painting.
I would sometimes add standard oils to the final layers of an Alkyd painting. This is because the range of Alkyd colours is a bit limited. For example, there is no Alkyd Cobalt Blue, only Cobalt ‘hue’, and its just not quite the same as the real thing.
Here is the video of this painting process. See you soon.
We are going through an unusually hot and dry period at the moment. As a small island, Ireland is continually swept by clean ocean air. This means intense heat from the sun when it shines and a nice fresh breeze. Unfortunately this is not normal summer weather for us. Last year it rained every single day, that’s 365 days, somewhere in Ireland. The down side is that our vegetation, especially garden plants, can’t cope with the lack of rain. I think I’m fighting a loosing battle in trying to keep my delicate potted plants alive and the others are fairing no better. There’s no rain expected in the immediate future so there will be very little green in the landscape before long.
I find it hard to paint in this weather. Its too hot during the day and there are too many flying insects to stick to the painting at night. This was painted late afternoon just before the lights in the studio became a beacon for every moth and midget in the parish. Nevertheless there were still a few casualties which had to be removed from the sticky surface. I use a pin to remove the tiny ones and sometimes I have to do a little repair work by smoothing over the surface with a dry brush. A dry brush is important as any solvent on the brush will lift the paint completely. A moth on the surface can be disastrous requiring repainting the area.
There are only 3 colours used in this painting. Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna and Cobalt Blue (plus black and white). Also there is no medium used only White Spirits. Cobalt Blue and Yellow Ochre does not produce a strong green. This was OK in this painting of a parched landscape. However these weak colours can lead to a ‘washed out’ look so throughout the painting there are dabs of pure colour, especially blue in the shadows. A little bit of Impressionism.
I will have a video of the painting process in a few days. See you then.
This painting is bigger than my normal size. When I change painting size I try and change the brush size relative to the change in painting size. Its probably not such a problem in going from large to small, but going in the other direction can lead to overworking. A brush size you are comfortable using to paint distant details on a 10″x8″ will require a different approach in painting similar details on a 20″x16″. I like a looser brush style so when I forget to scale up brush size I tend to do a little too much fiddling. In general I think, for me at least, larger brushes produce bolder painting.
In the video of this painting, I’ve indicated where the second stage started, after the first stage was dry. Glazing usually requires a flat transparent layer applied uniformly. I applied a heavier layer at the edges to create a ‘tunnel’ into the scene. A problem I find with glazing over a thin layer of paint which has the canvas texture showing, is that the recesses of the canvas weave hold a thicker layer of glaze emphasising the texture of the canvas. In the sky of this painting, especially the brighter areas, this was the case and it didn’t look good. I added a little white to these areas to create a smooth untextured colour.
Here is the video. See you soon.
Last full moon occurred close to the Summer Solstice. In Ireland at this time of year, the sky is still bright after 11pm and never really gets fully dark, with the first light of dawn barely 4 hours later, at 3am. This year there was also a full moon. It was so bright the birds, totally confused, were active all night. What I remember most vividly were the moon shadows.
Nightscapes are difficult to paint. The problem is that at low light levels, we see only in black and white, with very little colour. A camera sees colour in low light, its just a darker shade. In the 17th and 18th centuries artists were unaware of this lack of colour vision at night and portrayed their nightscapes in low key colour as they imagined it to be. More recent nightscapes are monochrome or as we see them. As I work mostly from imagination, this painting falls into the former category.
Moon Shadows Unglazed
I painted this in 2 sessions. The first stage produced an unusual landscape, looking like night time, but much too bright. The second stage was to glaze over the dry paint with transparent dark colour. The painting’s colours were Alkyd oils, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna and French Ultramarine. The glaze was a mix of standard oil paints, Burnt Sienna and the Ultramarine with Stand Linseed Oil as the medium. The base painting was dry enough to glaze after 24 hours because of the Alkyd paint used. I used Stand Linseed Oil in the glaze because it is less likely to leave brush marks and it is much slower drying, allowing the Alkyd colour underneath to fully dry first.
The painting is 20″x16″, painted in 2 hours with about an hour spent glazing. The 3 colours are, more or less, the same as I used in the last few paintings. I videoed the process and will post in a few days. See you then.