Wicklow Mountain Snow

Wicklow Mountain Snow

Wicklow Mountain Snow

Only 20 miles to the east, the Wicklow Mountains are rarely seen in normal conditions. Normal conditions are rain and low lying clouds. Occasionally at other times, we get a glimpse of this mysterious backdrop. As they say in Ireland, if you can see the mountains – rain is on the way. If you can’t, its because its raining and most of the time its raining. The scene in this painting is an exception. After days of ‘wintry showers with snow on high ground’ (as he weatherman puts it), spring arrived with sunshine and warm air. The glare of white snow was shimmering on the horizon. What a contrast, cold mountain snow and warm spring growth.

This painting uses only 3 colours (Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue) plus black and white. The colour wheel used by artists is split into into warm and cool colours. Although interesting and logical in its analytical approach I find it difficult to apply to painting. Paint colours don’t slot into pure primaries producing secondaries etc., so mixing paints does not result in secondaries or tertiaries according to plan. The proportions of paint in the mix will push a colour into the warm or cool sectors. For me its a matter of judging by eye and remembering all colour is relative.

Applications like Photoshop used by digital artists are different. The colours are pure not like those produced by grinding materials like clay or sand into a paste.

The size is 12″x9″. The brushes were a large filbert bristle, a pointed round bristle and a liner for fine lines. No medium used, only solvent.

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

Morning Frost

Morning Frost

Morning Frost

The winter is almost over. Mornings are beautiful, the bare trees allow the light to penetrate into the deepest places.

This is a break from the graphic paintings of recent times. As you are probably aware I use Alkyd Fast Drying Oils, I mix them with standard oils to overpaint ‘wet on wet’. Overpainting with standard oils requires the under layers to be dry. Although the Alkyd colour is not completely dry, after an hour or so, it is ‘set’ sufficiently to allow a gentle layer to be applied on top. Not ‘glazing’ in the traditional sense, as some mixing does happen. Also note, I don’t use a medium. The solvent I mix for the under layers will evaporate (sometimes with the help of a hair dryer. And yes I know, the danger of solvent inhalation and fire are always foremost on my mind) leaving a very thin layer of paint.

I have in previous posts (very old posts) mentioned the dangers of mixing Alkyd and standard oils (its not recommended by W&N). If you are interested use the search box above. The short version of mixing these two types of paint safely, is not to paint in layers (as in the traditional oil painting method) with the different paint types because the drying rates are so different. Painting in a single thin layer of well mixed paint would seem to be a safe bet (but only time will tell).

Here’s the video, see you soon.

Bursted Bank

Bursted Bank

Bursted Bank

Although chilly and dry there are still areas under water from the previous wet months. The dampness and low temperatures results in fog-like mists more often seen in the late autumn.

Prussian Blue is a strong transparent paint. In the limited palette of 3 colours, where this blue is the only blue, a strong red or yellow is needed to control its tinting power. In this subject the overpowering blue was just right for this early morning scene in spite of the strong red. The strong red in this case is Indian Red, a rust colour similar to Burnt Sienna, but not a good mixer. By this I mean that as its added to blue it will change quickly to a black/purple, difficult to control. If placed as an under layer and the other colours painted on top (wet on wet) its easier to control the colour change. For example, the distant hill, in the centre of the painting, has a reddish tinge because of the under layer of red. Too much brush work will result in either the red being absorbed, or else dominating the colour to become a rusty blob. This is dependent on the amount of red initially applied.

3 colours (Yellow Ochre, Indian Red, Prussian Blue) plus black and white. There is no medium used, only White Spirits. The painting is 16″ x 11″ and was painted in a single ‘wet on wet’ session in under 2 hours.