Glendalough Solitude – Time Lapse Painting

Glendalough Solitude

Glendalough Solitude

Round Towers are found in many parts of Ireland, usually associated with former monastic settlements. It was once thought they were built as places of refuge from the raiding Vikings over a 1200 years ago. After all they were built like small castles and the only entrance was 10 feet above ground level, accessed by a ladder. Although the monks may have tried to escape the raiders in the towers most experts now think the towers were built primarily as bell towers. Monastic settlements were more than just places of worship. The temporal welfare of the occupants needed to be catered for so this meant a lot of agricultural and industrial activity. A bell to announce times for the beginning and end of various activities throughout the day was essential for a well ordered society and these settlements could cover large areas and have many occupants. One of the best preserved towers is in Glendalough, County Wicklow. I have included it in this scene. By the way the reason why the entrance was so high up was because the towers were built without a foundation so the bottom of the tower was a solid lump of masonry, up to the height of the doorway, to stop it falling over.

Like the last painting (here) this scene was sketched in with dry paint (unmixed with solvent or medium). Later colours are added on top and a certain amount of mixing happens to alter these colours. Its easy to control if the paint is kept dry. The more you work it, the more mixing happens.

Still using just 3 colours and white only, no black. The colours are Raw Sienna, Raw Umber and Prussian Blue.  White Spirits was used initially to spread the dry paint at the sketching stage and at the end to paint the fine lines of the trees and building details.

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

Home through the fields – Time Lapse Painting

Home through the fields

Home through the fields

The kids are back in school and many in rural areas will take advantage of the good weather and bright evenings to take a ‘short-cut’ home through the fields. The blackberries are ripe and there will be many a crab apple tree to add a sharp bite to the sweetness of the berries. When we were children we were told it was OK to eat the wild fruit before Oiche Samhain (Hallowe’en night) because on that night the evil spirits went around the countryside ‘pee-ing’ on the fruit. A bit of folklore to ensure we didn’t consume anything after its ‘use before date’.

This is a small (11″x9″), quick painting even by my standards, and took about an hour to complete. It seems easier to try new techniques on a small painting. Here I sketched in the general scene in dry (no solvent or medium) unmixed paint. The later additions of paint had solvent added and blended with the paint already added. For example, in the sky, white with a little White Spirits added, was painted over the dry blue and umber paint to pick up the colour. I would normally paint the initial colours with loads of solvent which, when it evaporated, would not be inclined to mix with paint laid on top. The method in this painting reversed the procedure and worked well, giving smoother blends with less texture. This was OK in this small painting as the canvas texture poking through might be a little too rough relative to the small surface area of the painting.

3 colours used, Raw Sienna, Raw Umber and Prussian Blue. White was also used but no black. There was no medium used, just solvent (White Spirits).

Here’s the video of the painting process. See you soon.

Duke Street – Time Lapse Painting

Duke Street

Duke Street

Just for a change I painted this urban scene. It was a bit of a challenge not to get tied up in the regularity of rectangular shapes. Duke Street is one of the main streets in Athy, County Kildare. There is a mixture of modern and old buildings, of urban landscape in a small rural town. In Medieval times, Athy was a frontier town. The bridge here was a guarded entrance to the Pale, a fortified English area around Dublin. The expression ‘beyond the Pale’ comes from these times and referred to the ‘wild Irish’ who were beyond the control of the invading English forces.

The painting is 16″x12″ and was deliberately painted quickly (about an hour and a half) to ensure I didn’t get rapped up in the tedious details of buildings, something I am prone to do. I am still not including black on the palette, just 3 colours plus white. The restricted colour range added harmony of colour and harmony of texture was achieved by not blending the paint too much, especially in the sky.

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

Wandesforde Estate – Time Lapse Painting

Wandesforde Estate

Wandesforde Estate

Its not so much a sunset as a late afternoon in September, or how I imagined a late afternoon would look, here, beside this lake. It was summertime when I was here and I intended to paint this scene at some point. At the time the trees were fully laden and everywhere was an intense green. I think I needed Autumn to tell the story of this place and give a sense of what a beautiful place it was in former times. There is great work in progress at the moment in restoring the estate and hopefully it will continue.

As I said the scene is not a sunset, but even so, we expect silhouetted shapes in the foreground when viewing a sunset. I wanted the best of both worlds, a kind of sunset but a well lit landscape as well. It was a matter of getting the sky just bright and red enough to suggest the setting sun. I left this part of the sky (on the right hand side) unfinished until the mid and foreground colours were roughly put in before the light was added, to get the balance right. The red I mentioned was painted with solvent only, in Burnt Sienna and white. A little raw Burnt Sienna was added to vary the intensity and add random shapes in this area. By the time I got to painting this part in final colours, the solvent had evaporated and the paint was fixed so not much mixing happened. As you probably know, I’m using Alkyd colours and they really start to dry very quickly, especially when solvent only is used.

Burnt Sienna was also allowed to peep through the final colours as a way of tying ground and sky together, reducing the sunset effect and the expectation of silhouettes.

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

Wandesforde Estate – Oil Painting

Wandesforde Estate

Wandesforde Estate

It is, in fact, the former Wandesforde Estate. Now its a theme park called Castlecomer Discovery Park. Up until 1969 there were coal mines operating on this site and when this industry closed down, the estate was rejuvenated as a community project. With about 80 acres of woodland this park is open to the public with loads of activities, especially for kids, and a museum and tour on Castlecomer’s former coal mining industry. Very interesting indeed.

Castlecomer Discovery Park Web Site Masthead

Castlecomer Discovery Park Web Site Masthead

I’ve included here the masthead of the website for the discovery park because it has a photo of the scene on which this painting is based. The season is a little different and angle of view is different, but it gives you a flavour of the scene.

I’m still using just 3 colours, plus white and no black. The Burnt Sienna and turquoise (Yellow Ochre + Prussian Blue) have produced a beautiful shimmering effect which is not portrayed well in the above photo. It just worked in this painting, sometimes it doesn’t.

Clicking on the photo gives a close up view and you can see the places where the under colour peeps through the upper layers.

I will post the video of the painting process in a few days. See you then.

Coppiced Trees – Time Lapse Painting

Coppiced Trees

Coppiced Trees

Coppicing, in case you don’t know, is a practice of woodland management, whereby the thees are harvested of their branches and the stump left to produce more wood. Its an ancient practice in Europe to produce renewable wood for all sorts of purposes from wattles for housing and baskets to charcoal production.

This is a small painting, 11″x8″, and was painted in about an hour. 3 colours are used, Yellow Ochre, Raw Umber and Prussian Blue. White is also used, but no black. Solvent (White Spirits) is used at the beginning and at the end, in fine lines. Otherwise its a dry painting method. Not using black is something I’m experimenting with at the moment. I’m also interested in producing a soft image which is strong and vibrant. In the past I made strong images with light and shade and black was a big part of this technique. Because there is no black used here, I’m trying to give strength by having a rough textured surface in this soft image. If you click on the above image you will see an enlarged version and note the underpainting is not completely covered by final layers of paint giving a ‘daubed’ effect.

‘Oiling out’ is important as the underpainting is very matt and when dry, this gloss difference between underpainting and final paint layers is too distracting. The layer of oil medium unifies the surface.

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

Flood Plane – Oil Painting

Flood Plane

Flood Plane

Traditional watercolour artists do not use black paint. The technique is reliant on the paper colour illuminating the transparent layers of paint. The highlights are devoid of paint and the deepest shadows have the heaviest paint but are still transparent. I’ve borrowed many of these watercolour techniques in recent oil paintings (using solvent in place of water) so it was only a matter of time before I would also stop using black. Its only a temporary phase I’m going through though, I think, as there are going to be times in the coming winter when black will be required.

In the accompanying video the dark handled brush is a round and its used from start to finish without much cleaning between mixes. The ‘dry’ paint is wiped off on a tissue paper and occasionally a little solvent is used in the cleaning. This illustrates that my colours ‘evolve’ through stages of light and dark coloured mixes. For example, the initial blue of the sky is lightened to become the clouds on the horizon. This mix is then darkened with more blue (Prussian) and red (Burnt Sienna) to become the clouds. This grey is then changed with a little yellow (Yellow Ochre) to become the distant trees. The same mix is then changed with more blue and yellow to become the nearer trees. In effect the same 3 colours are used throughout the entire painting, only the proportions of each colour changes. The result is harmony.

The light handled brush is a wide filbert brush (No. 12) and its used only to blend the colours, especially the sky colours. A ‘rigger’ type of nylon brush is used for fine lines using a ‘wet’ mix of solvent (White Spirits) only.

The painting is 16″x12″ and took about 2 hours to complete in a single session. There are 3 colours plus white used (no black).

Here is the painting video. See you soon.

Long Road into Winter – Time Lapse Painting

Long Road into Winter

Long Road into Winter

Almost by accident I omitted using black in this painting. It was on the palette so I expected I would need it at some stage. As it turned out it was not required at any stage through the painting process. This happens a lot with painting, you plan a course of action and things change and you are taken on a completely different track.

In the next painting, the plan was not to include black and this I managed to do. I will post this tomorrow. In the meantime have a look at this painting.

Long Road into Winter – Oil Painting

Long Road into Winter

Long Road into Winter

As you have probably noticed my working method has changed slightly in recent paintings. I’m applying a layer of unmixed paint as a ‘wash’ using White Spirits. I did this when I was using standard oils and it was not very successful as this ‘dry’ layer would readily mix with subsequent paint layers. In an effort to reduce this mixing I would use a hair dryer to evaporate the solvent before proceeding with the next layers. The intention was to leave some of the unmixed paint peeping through the covering colour to give a texture and a richness to the colours. Apart from the obvious dangers (fire, fumes) the process was difficult to control with the upper layers of paint tending to flood the dry under layer. I felt that the paint, even directly from the tube, without the addition of solvent or medium, was too oily to control this delicate procedure.

Alkyd colours are a different matter entirely. The layer applied with solvent does resist the later layers added on top. Although I’m using Alkyd throughout the entire painting, if you like underpainting in a flat colour and allowing it to dry before the next layers are added, do consider using Alkyd colours as your underpainting. Alkyd is compatible with standard oils and a solvent underpainting will be completely dry in less than 24 hours. I know some painters use Acrylic as an underpainting and this seems to be OK, but its water based and that always bothered me. One time it was considered a bad idea to allow the canvas primed for oils to become wet as it was thought it might loosen the water based glue-size which was used to seal the canvas before the primer was applied. I know modern canvas is no longer prepared in this way, but its still a worry.

This is another 3 colour painting. I put some black on the palette but didn’t actually use any. So its 3 colours, Yellow Ochre, Raw Umber and Prussian Blue plus white. As with the last painting I used a single round brush (No. 12) to paint the bulk of the painting. The fine lines were painted with a very small (00) nylon brush.

I will post the video of the painting process in a few days. See you then.

Cool Winds of September – Oil Painting

Cool Winds of September

Cool Winds of September

The landscape is parched after a long dry summer and now with frost expected later this week it will have a definite wintery look to it. This painting is about the transition. The cool winds are tugging at the last leaves and before long, bare branches and the blues and browns of winter will prevail.

When I started using Alkyd Fast Drying Oils I was very conscious of the danger to my brushes. Even after an hour the Alkyd paint on an unattended brush begins to dry. I decided to reduce the number of brushes I was using in a painting just in case I left one aside for too long, with disastrous results. After a few paintings I decided that the most versatile brush was a standard large round. In this painting, from start to finish, I used a No. 12 round. This is about a half inch in diameter with a slight taper. This single brush was not cleaned between colours, the excess paint was wiped off, but the brush was kept dry.

This suits my working method which involves letting a single paint mix evolve through the different stages of the painting. Of course it only works with a limited number of starting colours. I’m using 3 and this ensures that the colours on the palette do not turn into that dirty brown which seems to appear when too many different colours get mixed together. I’m using no liquid, either solvent or medium, at this stage in recent paintings. This helps in my quest to be less graphic and more painterly as mentioned in a recent post.

In this painting a small ‘rigger’ type nylon brush was used with plenty of White Spirits for the fine lines. Also, I briefly used a No. 12 Filbert Bristle to blend the sky colours.

Here’s the video of the painting process. See you soon.