Winter Lake – Time Lapse Painting

Winter Lake

Winter Lake

Just a post to link you to the video of this painting. We’ve had a very hectic Christmas this year with a full house every day. We also had our latest grandchild, 12 week old John from Germany and his parents, staying with us. Its a long time since we had an infant with us over Christmas and he made it special. So there was no painting, blogging, Emails this year. A break from the world and a baby to keep us occupied. What more could you ask for?

Here is the link to the video.


Lonely Path – Time Lapse Oil Painting

Lonely Path

Lonely Path

I use charcoal in the planning of a painting. Usually multiple tiny sketches to work out the distribution of darks and lights in the final painting. At this small scale, details can’t be considered – which at this stage, is a good thing. In these ‘thumbnail’ sketches, possibilities and potential designs can be created with ease. The advantage of charcoal is the range of tones, from full black to almost white paper. Its very easy to create, by suggestion, many of the details which will later be introduced into the painting.

If only the actual painting was as easy. Watercolours have some of this feature, where the dark colour on the paper can be thinned to almost white with the addition of water. Because transparency of colours in watercolours is part and parcel of the technique, the thinned out colour produces bright clean washes as the colour of the paper shines through.

For a time I was trying to introduce some of this method into my oil paintings. The fact of the matter is that oils don’t have sufficient transparency for this to work well. If white is added, to lighten a colour, it produces an opaque ‘milky’ effect, lacking everything – transparent sparkle or strong highlight. Also the ‘mechanical’ weave of the canvas now very noticeable, unlike the rougher texture of watercolour paper, is not an attractive finish in a painting.

However, in the early stages of the oil painting, I use shadow colours to try and get the ‘roughing out’ effect of charcoal. Also, as with watercolour but using White Spirits, I wash some of the darker colours into areas which will later be covered with mid and highlight colour. This is, in fact, the traditional recommended practice in oil painting – transparent shadows and opaque highlights. It would seem as if I’ve just gone round in a large circle and arrived back at the starting point. But its not quite the starting point. The difference is that by using a technique similar to watercolour, the shadow colour is applied and allowed to flow into sometimes random patterns and shapes to later develop into a final interesting surface. This is especially useful in large flat featureless areas, such as the blue of a sky or a large expanse of flat green field. There is nothing as daunting as having to fill in an area of a painting which doesn’t have a feature to focus on. Having an under layer of random shapes does help to introduce variety.

In this video you will see this in practice, especially in the sky. The random patterns created by the Prussian Blue wash dictated the cloud shapes and produced a less contrived cloud pattern.

Wood Pond – Time Lapse Painting

Wood Pond

In retrospect this is not a very ‘wintery’ scene. Actually its more like an Impressionist painting from the south of France. This certainly wasn’t the intention. But it’s OK with me. The next few paintings will be more seasonal. Its the time of the year again for thinking about Christmas cards. I like the tradition. Its also a nice way of sharing your art with family and friends. The process of producing cards from original artwork is so simple nowadays its well worth the small effort involved.

As usual the most difficult part is producing the original artwork. Hopefully my efforts and work of the next few weeks will be of help.

In the meantime here is the video of this painting.

Winter Beeches – Oil Painting

Winter Beeches

This small painting (12″x9″) was supposed to be a ‘dry brush’ painting. It was, until the Yellow Ochre was introduced into the paint mixes. This was a new tube of paint and the paint was excessively oily in the tube. Without me adding any medium there was already too much to follow the ‘dry brush’ route. So a change of method to ‘wet’ was necessary. As it turned out, about 25% of the tube was medium which oozed out as a clear oily material. Apart from only 75% of the tube containing paint there is a more serious issue with this oily material. The paint would have been too saturated to be used if more medium had been added. I was OK as the rest of the painting had no medium added and this dissipated the excessive medium.

Its a good idea to allow paint, if its like what I described, to stand on a sheet of paper before its used. The paper will absorb the medium/oil and will be seen as an ever expanding circle of oil. Apart from wanting the paint dryer, for example to use as a ‘dry brush’ paint, the medium in the paint in the tube contains drying retarders to extend the shelf life of the tube. This will also extend the drying time of the paint on the canvas.

I will have the video of the painting in a day or two, see you then.

The Colour of Winter – Time Lapse Painting

The Colour of Winter

I haven’t had much time to paint or do anything else over the last few days. We were in Bavaria in southern Germany to check out our latest grandchild (see the little mite here). I thought the weather was cold in Ireland. Its not, compared to the breeze coming down from the Alps. It was snowing when we arrived but improved a little as the days went by.

Here is the video of the painting here. I will be back painting in a day or two, as soon as I thaw out. See you then.

The Colour of Winter – Oil Painting

The Colour of Winter

The colours are: Indian Red & Raw Umber (reds), Yellow Ochre and Cerulean Blue. Not the depths of Winter, just the introduction. There are yellows and browns, reds and blues, but the overall is calm and cool. The choice of colours is important. The previous painting (here) was also an attempt at a Winter type painting, but the basic colours did not naturally lean in that direction and had to be manhandled into a Winter landscape. Not so these colours. They just ooze Winter. They also work well together. This means any mixes of any of the colours produce good harmonies. The only tricky one is Indian Red and should be used sparingly.

I did not use any medium and almost no solvent here. This gives a ‘pastel’ look to the painting. I thought I might have a problem with the sky, producing the softness needed in clouds. I think it worked out OK. At the moment I like this dry painting method. Maybe its a reaction to the extremely wet method I used in the Autumn paintings.

The video of the painting process will be ready to post soon as this painting is small (9″x12″) and was painted relatively quickly in about an hour and a half. See you then.

Winter Sunset – Time Lapse Painting

Winter Sunset

This is more of an exercise in paint mixing and handling than in producing a painting. Specifically relating to Cadmium Yellow, a colour I’ve only recently started to use in the series of Autumn paintings, just completed. Its easy to see how this colour would suit the strong yellows and oranges of Autumn but as the Winter approaches I was wondering was there a place for this strong colour in the cooler landscapes.

The first test was to see could I place the yellow on a blue background without the usual strong greens associated with this mix. This is important for me as I’m an ‘alls prima’ painter (single session, wet on wet) and there are times when I don’t want greens occurring when blues and yellows get close together. Its the ‘wet on wet’ which causes the problems. If the blue background was allowed to dry completely, a yellow like Cadmium with a little white added to make it less transparent could be painted over the blue layer. This layer would cover the blue with yellow, and without the mixing there would be no green.

The sun on the blue worked reasonably well. A band of green around the sun would not be welcome. But the actual application of the colours was a bit restrictive (see the video below). In the reflection on the water, you can see the green from the blue/yellow interaction. Its probably OK in this area of the painting, but its not a Winter colour.

The result of this experiment is that I will not use Cadmium Yellow in the series of Winter paintings I’m about to start. It is a very dominant colour. I would have preferred to have yellow in the sky, not much but a little. But that ‘buttercup’ tinge would have ruined this cold winter sky. Without a little warmth, the blue lacks dimension, its almost monochrome. I could of course use different yellows for different parts of the painting, this is heading down the road of multiple colours and the resultant lack of harmony with richness.

Anyway, here’s the video. See you soon.

October Light – Time Lapse Painting

October Light

Recently I’ve been using no medium and a lot of solvent in my paintings. The solvent spreads paint and I’ve used this effect to create shapes and suggest detail in an almost haphazard way. I find this useful in areas of the painting where there are no identifiable features to be painted in. Watercolour artists do something similar with wet on wet washes, allowing the paint to flow here and there. Very often the most difficult areas of a painting to fill in, are these open ’empty’ spaces between features.

Another way to help add interest in a featureless area is to use no medium or solvent at all. The dry brush dragged across the canvas is a bit like drawing with charcoal. Pressure, or lack of it on the brush can suggest details. If you look at the painting here, the foreground really didn’t have anything specific to paint. What I didn’t want was a flat uninteresting area. Using the dry brush and working over this area, features almost suggested themselves and I the just added a few highlights to these features. The old tree stump on the right was needed to balance the ‘exit’ on the left. It was a definite feature and, as such, was easy to paint unlike the ’empty’ stretch running into the distance.

I always try to add interest into empty spaces. Making ‘apparently’ random shapes and colours looks more natural. I find attempts at creating deliberate features tend to look contrived and artificial.

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

October Light – Oil Painting

October Light

The first of a series of paintings which try and convey winter, using colours more suitable for warmer paintings. These colours are the same as the last few paintings, Burnt Sienna, Cadmium Yellow and Prussian Blue. In fact this might be the only painting of this series. The yellow is so intense and its tinting power so great, the overall look is bright and warm. Because I use so few colours each individual one is involved in almost every mix. As you can see the painting glows a warm summery tint, not what was intended. The quick fix would be to use less yellow but again with only three colours, the painting would be unbalanced lacking greens and oranges, two essential colours in a natural landscape.

There is no medium used and only the smallest amount of solvent (White Spirits). This is manageable as the painting is small, 9″ x 12″, but spreading ‘dry’ paint is difficult and time consuming. The advantage is a more textured effect, good in a small painting to suggest details, as painting details is difficult at such a small scale.

I will review this painting in a day or two and decide whether or not to continue to paint winter scenes using Cadmium Yellow. As usual I recorded the painting process for the next post, see you then.

Woodland Stream, Late Autumn – Time Lapse Painting

Woodland Stream, Late Autumn

The incredible seasonal variation in the landscape in this part of the world is a constant source of inspiration for me. Recently I’ve noticed, regardless of the colours I use, the flavour of the seasons seem to emerge by the time the painting is finished. I’m a little surprised by this. This presents me with a challenge I can’t resist, as the world changes and we plunge into stark winter.

Not too long ago, before I started a particular painting, I would decide a set of colours appropriate for the scene. As you know I’m not very adventurous regarding the variety of colours I use, but the colours would still be different. Provided I have a red, yellow and blue, all the colours of nature can be mixed. The set of colours for this and the last few paintings was strong and bright (Burnt Sienna, Cadmium Yellow, Prussian Blue), because I wanted to paint the strong and bright colours of Autumn. I was expecting a closer matching of colour from this batch of paintings, but they’re different. Some very different, and without a conscious effort to make them so.

What I am going to do is push this set of colours into a batch of paintings not depicting Autumn, but the cold blue and browns of our Winter. It may not work out and I may be recruiting the Umbers and Ochres and the winter blues (Cobalt) before long. We will see.

I also have to consider the method of painting I’m employing at the moment. Remember a few months ago I started using some ‘watercolour like’ applications of paint, floods of liquid (White Spirits) and washes of colour. Maybe I’m getting more control using this method. It remains to be seen. Isn’t it amazing how interesting and complex such a simple process as putting colours on a white surface can be.

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