Taking Flight – Time Lapse Painting

Taking Flight

I think there is more to a limited palette than just simplicity. This painting has just 4 colours (Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Cobalt Blue, Raw Umber) and there is a clarity and cleanness which I have found, in other paintings, is reduced with the addition of more colours. This may be OK for some subjects, dull stormy days, sunsets, but for brilliantly bright days to look brilliantly bright, the paint mixes must be clean with high chroma. 3 of the 4 colours above are ‘earth’ colours and I find they mix well together. By this I mean the resultant combinations are as rich as the colour directly from the tube. The funny thing is that the tube colours themselves are pretty dull to start with but the mixes don’t get any duller.

This reduced palette is often referred to as a ‘beginners palette’. Beginners tend to prefer a wider range of colours to reduce the mixing required to match a particular colour. This is where the dullness makes an entry. Maybe this is why its a safer option to have less colours to reduce the chances of dull colours. There is a contradiction here. It takes a bit of effort and experience to get the best out of a limited range of colours. The way a limited range works for me is to pick a small number of particular colours for a particular scene. The amount of mixing is reduced and the resultant colours are rich.

Another bit of advice to a beginner is not get involved in ‘fiddly details’. I think this has more to do with getting involved in detail too early on in the painting process. Sometimes ‘fiddly details’ are an important part of a painting. This painting is one such example. The foreground details are intense to help to create distance because there is a lack of ‘lines of perspective’ in the painting.

The painting of details with a fine brush can be tedious and I will often place a reservoir of colour and use a fine brush to drag fine lines outward. For example a heavy branch of a tree can have a blob of colour placed on top and the fine branches drawn out of this blob. Multiple fine branches can be drawn quickly without returning to the palette to replenish the brush. In this painting the reservoir was outside the frame of the painting, on the masking tape. The fine lines were drawn from the blobs of paint quickly without the need to pick up fresh paint. The ease of painting allows you to concentrate on the structures. The following video shows this process and although the video is speeded-up it was a fast procedure and a lot of ‘fiddly details’ were achieved in a short time.

Here is the video.


Taking Flight – Oil Painting

Taking Flight

This summer will probably be recorded as one of the wettest ever. At least the ducks are happy. The painting is approx 18″ x 10″, actually the canvas was an off-cut of which I have many. I find it difficult to find a subject to fit these narrow shapes. Panoramic views on such a small piece of canvas tend to have a cramped feeling and with a foreground occupying the usual one third of the area this leaves no scope for a substantial sky. The weather might not be the usual holiday type but the stormy skies are spectacular.

In this composition I truncated the foreground to make space for the sky but having enough interest to draw the viewer into the scene. I’m not a wildlife artist and painting the ducks ‘wet on wet’ was a bit stressful as there was no room for error. I was trying to keep the painting of the ducks as free as the rest of the painting and this is difficult as the shapes are quite precise. I was conscious of the problem of overworking these shapes and the lack of movement which might result from this.

The colours used are Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre and Cobalt Blue. Raw Umber was also used. So as usual its a limited palette with the resultant harmony over the entire surface of the painting. As usual I recorded the painting process which I will post in a few days.