Spring Light

Spring Light

Spring Light

The woods are about to spring into life. The light has arrived but the temperatures are still a bit low. At the moment the trees are bare, except for the beeches with their brown, over-winter foliage. Soon it will be green, green and more green and I will be trying to add a bit of ‘spice’ to this monotony. Its always a challenge.

I was trying to convey sunlight without the usual ‘sunny day’ look. Cool sunlight, fresh and clear. The curtain of blue (Prussian plus a little Lemon Yellow) in the background and water, dominate the scene. The touches of warm colours (Burnt Sienna, green and yellow) produce a vibrant contrast.

The painting has a graphic look created with a sign painters ‘liner’. An inexpensive nylon brush used to paint long continuous lines on signage. Trees drawn with these long unbroken lines, from the ground upwards, convey the growth patterns of trees. The loaded brush at ground level produces a thick heavy line which thins as the brush travels upwards. Its important to rotate the brush between your fingers, especially at the fine line stage. This keeps the bristles pointed, otherwise, instead of really fine lines you’ll get a ‘furry’ blur.

Remember, I don’t use a medium. The background has to be a really well brushed, thin layer of paint with solvent only added. In a few minutes the solvent evaporates and this can be painted over with the fine lines. The paint used to ‘draw’ the fine lines has the consistency of ink, produced by adding loads of solvent and ‘mulling’ the paint with the flat of the palette knife. If this paint does not contain more solvent than the surface on to which you are painting, the background paint will be lifted onto the brush with no paint will be applied. This technique irritates many traditional oil painters who like the thick, sticky consistency of oil paint.

Also remember I use Alkyd Oil Colours. These are fast drying colours and begin to ‘set’ as soon as they are applied, so the background can be painted earlier than with traditional oils.

The colours used were Winsor Lemon, Burnt Sienna, Prussian Blue plus black and white. I used a single filbert bristle and the ‘liner’ mentioned above. The solvent was Artists White Spirits (a petroleum spirit for thinning paint). The size is 13″x9″.

Here’ the video, see you soon.

Flooded

Flooded

Flooded

The return of the sun is welcome, especially in the evenings. The sunsets, now approaching 6pm, are lit with a golden glow. I can’t wait for the 10pm sunsets in a few months time.

As in recent paintings I’m using 3 colours and a single bristle brush to produce an evolution of colour from one to the next without cleaning the brush between mixes. Its a discipline which makes me think more about colour in relation to what has gone before and what is about to be applied. I think it also allows more flexibility in revisiting areas of the painting and making fine adjustments to existing colour. By reducing the variables of paint and brushes simplifies the process and can more easily be imagined before I start. This allows me to start the painting without the need to sketch out the scene, something I would have done up until recently.

The colours are almost the same as recent paintings. Yellow Ochre instead of Raw Sienna – less ‘red’, and Burnt Umber instead of Raw Umber – more ‘red’. The blue is still Cerulean, in keeping with these misty dull days.

Here’s the video of the painting, see you soon.

Bleak February

Bleak February

Bleak February

Its cold and bleak with a North wind threatening snow and sleet. Now and then the sun breaks through and illuminates the desiccated vegetation.

Raw Umber and Cerulean Blue are the colours I associate with this time of year. Mixed, they produce a range of colours from the grey of clouds to the deep dark shadows of winter woodland, all from the same 2 colours adding white for clouds and black for the deep shadows. What a harmony this creates.

Raw Sienna was the third colour. To emphasise and contrast the sunlit area, Raw Sienna was used very sparingly in the other parts of the painting. A little was used in the sunlit clouds and again in the dirt track with patches here and there in the foreground grasses. These patches are isolated and kept separate from the main body of cool green grass. This helps to integrate this area of warm golden sunlight in the overall cold scene. Too much contrast of colour would look a little odd.

I used a single filbert bristle and allowed the colour evolve one into the next by not cleaning the brush. This is one of the advantages of a limited palette with the entire painting a range of variations of the same basic colour. The fine lines were painted with an inexpensive nylon ‘rigger’.

Here’s the video of the process, see you soon.