The 28th Lock – Time Lapse Paintings

The 28th Lock

The 28th Lock

The 28th Lock (2)

The 28th Lock (2)

In recent times I’ve been stretching the capabilities of traditional oil painting to the stage where some of my practices are almost unworkable. It boils down to this, the medium of oil painting was not designed to be used in this way. Floods of solvent, forced drying with a hair dryer, no added medium, paint messaged and manipulated until it behaves like ink, the expectation of a finished painting in under 2 hours, etc, etc. Add to this the fact that some of what I’ve been doing is downright dangerous and unhealthy. Solvent fumes, heaters, poor ventilation, all while I’m smoking my pipe. Time for a change.

I’ve been looking at Alkyd oil paints and I will start to introduce them gradually, firstly with the under layers. The main difference between this paint type and standard oil colour is the binder. Paint is made from pigment, binder and solvent. Standard oils use a vegetable oil as a binder, Alkyd uses a Liquin type material as its binder.

The concerns I’ve had with Liquin, since I started using it, were eased a little after my research into Alkyd paints. The technical spec. on Liquin mentioned not using it as a last paint layer especially if the painting was going to be varnished. Without a reason for this recommendation, I assumed there was a danger of Liquin binding to the varnish, especially as it was advised to use a standard oil medium as the final coat or for ‘oiling out’.

Liquin and Alkyd binder are similar materials – chemically modified vegetable oil but remaining mixable with the oils from which it was produced. On its own it dries very fast forming an impervious, inflexible layer. These 2 issues will cause problems if this medium is used as a final layer over normal oil paint. Firstly, an impervious layer over a standard oil layer will stop the oxidation of the under layer – the painting will not dry underneath. Secondly, an inflexible layer over a flexible layer will eventually flake off.

What this also means is that Alkyd oil colour is an excellent under paint. Inflexible and fast drying. Also, if the under layer is not fully dry and is painted over with standard oil paint it will mix, forming an homogenous layer without the issues caused by separate layers. It looks promising.

As usual I’ll document the process and progress. In the meantime here are the videos of the above paintings. If your computer and broadband are up to the task you can run the two simultaneously to see the different methods of painting side by side. See you soon.


The 28th Lock – Oil Painting

The 28th Lock

The 28th Lock

The 28th Lock 2

The 28th Lock (2)

The last lock on the Grand Canal where it joins the River Barrow at Athy, the 28th Lock was built in 1792. Arthur Guinness was instrumental in having the canal extended to Athy, from where he received his supplies of malted barley. There was no wheeled transport in Ireland at this time and his expanding brewery needed this extension to connect him directly to St. James’s Gate, the front door of his brewery in Dublin.

After I completed the painting (on top) I felt the treatment was a bit harsh. The second painting was completed the following day with a softer approach. I was interested in the late morning light when the sun was high and the last wisps of fog were burning away. I was also going to have more colour, in celebration of spring, as my recent paintings, when seen as a group, have the gloom of winter all over them.

When separated, each of these 2 paintings is OK. When seen together, one seems to illustrate the limitations of the other.

I videoed both painting processes and will post them in a few days. See you then.

Bunbury’s Bridge – Oil Painting

Bunbury’s Bridge

The scene is near where I live. The bridge spans the canal, south of the town of Athy. I don’t know why this bridge is named ‘Bunbury’s’. The bridge is disused now as it was on the entrance to Kilmoroney House which is now a ruin. Kilmoroney House was built before the canal arrived here in 1791, so the bridge was probably built at the expense of the canal company as it crossed the entrance to the house. Its possible Bunbury was the contractor who built the bridge.

This week we had 24 hours of rainfall, non stop. One average month’s rainfall, in one day. Now the sun is shining again, and after the recent rain the air is clear and its extremely hot. This affects the colours in a sunset. The last post also featured a sunset with the colours we are more familiar with – reds, oranges and yellows. This sunset is after the rain and the colours are very muted. This is reflected in the palette of colours used. There are still only 5 colours used and they are the same as the last painting [Cadmium Red (red), Cadmium Yellow (yellow), French Ultramarine (blue). Viridian Green, Raw Umber] EXCEPT Cadmium Red is replaced with Burnt Sienna.

The composition would appear to break one of the basic rules, which is ‘never put the centre of interest in the centre of the painting’. The bridge is dead centre and other elements are ‘see-sawed’ either side of this pivot. Its hard to plan this type of structure before starting to paint the picture. It has to be constructed almost like putting children on a see-saw. Two five year olds on one side will weigh the same as one ten year old on the other, or so you think. When the ten year old is outweighed, you add another three year old beside him, but now these two outweigh the other two, and so on, if you follow my drift.

So it is with this type of composition. The large tree was supposed to balance the tow-path and smaller trees on the left. It was too heavy, so I put a gap in the line of trees to add more interest and give extra ‘weight’ on this side. It did, but too much. So more detail on the near right was added… and so on… and so on. Its more time consuming as constant reworking of already painted areas can go astray if concentration is lost. The total time of painting was about three hours. A lot of time was spent just looking at the painting, the actual time of painting was under an hour and a half. I can tell this from the video recording, which I will have in the next post. See you then.