Flowers of May

Flowers of May

Flowers of May

What a burst of colour. The wildflowers in this old meadow have really come alive in the recent dry weather.

I am using transparent colours to give the effect of wild flower randomly scattered in the lush grass. This is, of course, a watercolour technique, applying under colour and allowing little bits to show through the final layers of the green grass.

This painting uses only 3 colours (Indian Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue) plus black and white. There is no medium used, only White Spirits.

Here’s the video of the painting process.

Abandoned Farm

Abandoned Farm

Abandoned Farm

The colours of Summer, chlorophyll in all its variations competing for sunlight.

To emphasise the Summer green and produce a glow of colour, you will need plenty of shadow areas. At a certain point in this painting, it looked like a disastrous black smudge.

With a limited palette of 3 colours, the lighter colours painted on top of the wet shadow colour were essentially the same colours with white added. This gives a vibrant range of sun-lit colours. Remember, the fewer the number of colours in a mix, the higher the chroma. My current palette limits this to 3.

The less highlight colour added the more dramatic the effect. Generally less is better. Painting highlights and sun-lit areas of an oil painting landscape is difficult as it goes against our instinctive inclination to draw shadows and leave lit areas untouched, as with watercolours.

Here’s the video, see you soon.

Early May

Early May

Early May

Summer is late this year. This scene is how I presume the landscape will be in a few weeks.

There are different ranges of colours I use for different moods or conditions in the landscape. My ranges are composed of 3 primary colours with the occasional addition of a secondary. This secondary is usually green, as this colour is the most used in landscape and sometimes the yellow and blue do not produce a good green. For example, in winter landscapes I will often use Yellow Ochre and Cerulean Blue. The resultant green from this mix is OK in dull winter paintings (here). Using these colours and also having the colours of spring or summer would require a ‘tube’ green to be added to the mix.

In this painting I used a combination of nice primary colours – Indian Yellow, Permanent Rose & Ultramarine Blue. The resultant mixes produced ‘Constable’ colours, deep rich purple shadows and strong greens which keep their vibrance when lightened with white. In my current painting method, when I use these 3 colours I try and include each of the colours in every mix. So the green made from the blue and yellow, will have a little red included or the purple made from the red and blue, will have a little yellow added. Sometimes the addition of the third colour is from the under layer as in the sky in this painting (yellow). Or if I plan the succession of colour mixes, what remains on the brush of the previous colour is enough to add to the new mix. That is why I use so few brushes and don’t have to clean them too often.

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

Cloney East

Cloney East

Cloney East

Travelling south from Monasterevin to Athy takes you through Cloney. At this time of year, the low lying sun makes this an uncomfortable journey as the glare is blinding on this long straight stretch of road. This scene presented me with an unusual composition full of contrast and glittering after recent rain. Coincidentally the river, which runs parallel to the road, is called River Boherbaun or, in English, white road. Appropriate when you look along this white streak on the landscape.

The light source in this painting is within the scene, creating a silhouette effect. This is a problem, with dark areas threatening to dominate the composition. Two areas stood out as potential shadows problems. The tree on the right and the bridge. I reduced the volume of the tree and made the dark areas less solid with light peeping through the ivy covered tree trunk. The bridge was a large dark area and by adding a little reflected light and leaving the two arches, broke up the shadow.

The real world rarely obliges the artist with an ideal composition. There were many changes made in this scene, like the relative size of the tree but nevertheless, the scene was instantly recognisable.

This painting has only 3 colours, Yellow Ochre, Permanent Rose, Ultramarine Blue plus black and white. There is no medium used, only White Spirits. The size is 15″ x 12″.

Here’s the video. See you soon.

Spring Grazing

Spring Grazing

Spring Grazing

The livestock are out and about enjoying the fresh growth having been cooped up since the end of last year. They tend to be a bit frisky and take advantage of any weakness in fencing, ending up where they should not be.

This painting contains only 3 colours (Indian Yellow, Permanent Rose, Cobalt Blue) plus black and white. Indian Yellow is similar to Cadmium Yellow and so produces strong greens when mixed with Cobalt Blue. These 2 primary colours are close to the ideal yellow and blue as seen on the colour wheel. The resultant green is an ‘unnatural’ colour needing red to produce the shades seen in nature. I will always use 3 primaries but most of the time the colours are not perfect versions of the primaries. For example, I use Burnt Sienna as a red, Yellow Ochre as yellow and purple blues like ultramarine or Prussian. The greens produced are usually more natural.

By using a single brush, a filbert No. 10, and not cleaning between mixes there is sufficient ‘contamination’ to ensure red gets into the green mixes. You can do this sort of thing with a limited palette. Obviously there are never more than 3 colours in any mix, so the dreaded mud of too many colours does not happen.

There is no medium used, only White Spirits. The size is 16″ x 12″.

Here’s the video, see you soon.

April Evening

April Evening

April Evening

This unusual sky occurred a few times over the last weeks. Not quite a sunset, but a break in the storm clouds on the horizon producing a band of orange light several hours before sunset.

During the recent controversy concerning the use of cadmium pigment in artists paints, I had a look at possible alternative colours in the event of a total ban on the use of cadmium. I bought a tube of Indian Yellow as it looked a little like Cadmium Yellow. As it turned out, the ban was applied to general industry only and not to artists paints, so cadmium yellow is safe for the foreseeable future.

I used Indian Yellow in this painting where I would normally have used cadmium. Its a strong yellow/orange colour similar to Cadmium Yellow but a little more orange. Its very transparent and so is a good glazing paint. However, in mixes it looses its brilliant golden colour to produce dull secondaries. Notice the left end of the orange band above. In this painting it suits the situation as it does not need to glow as in a traditional sunset subject. As an ‘all prima’ painter, I will be careful in using this colour if I need brilliant effects. I can appreciate how this colour would be great in traditional oil painting. Used as a glaze over pink, for example, would make a sunset glow.

This painting uses only 3 colours, Indian Yellow, Alizarin Crimson and Prussian Blue plus black and white. There is no medium used, only White Spirits. The size is 16″ x 12″ and was painted in a single session (wet on wet).

Here’s the video.