Hazy Days – Time Lapse Painting

Hazy Days

This painting is approx. 14″ x 12″. Not large in this era of gigantic works. I think ‘large’ is in fashion at the moment, if paintings as wall hangings in modern homes is an indicator of fashion. In traditional oil painting ‘going large’ is a scaling up of what was working at smaller sizes. This for me meant using larger brushes and regularly standing back and viewing the work from a distance, as the final work will be. In other words the brush stroke a quarter of an inch wide was now a half an inch wide and from a distance, relative to the picture area, the effect was similar.

This is not working with this very wet solvent method of painting. For a start the painting is flat on a table top and unless I climb a ladder to the ceiling and look down I can’t get back far enough to view the overall painting. Lighting causing reflections from the pools of solvent on the surface also is an issue. Large volumes of solvent take large periods of time to evaporate, so the whole process is grinding to a halt as I wait to apply the next layer of paint. The long and the short of it is this – the method is workable only on small paintings. The painting here is probably the largest convenient size for this method.

As you probably can guess, I’m painting a large picture at the moment 24″ x 20″. Large in that it is nearly four times the area of this painting here. This factor of four can be applied to the time spent painting and waiting. After four hours I’m only in the initial stages. Stopping work for the day means on the following day the paint is neither wet nor dry, further disrupting the method.

I intend to finish the work. The current layers will have to dry completely. This will take three days with the present weather. Then the entire surface will have to be oiled out to return the tones to their original values. From then on the process is as normal. More anon.

In the meantime have a look at the painting process for this piece.


Hazy Days – Oil Painting

Hazy Days

Thankfully the weather has been good for the last few weeks. The harvest is late but getting there. Days start in mist and end in mist. This scene is one of those places you pass every day and never see it. Then once by accident you stop, and look and there it is, a subject for a painting. Making a painting from ‘nothing’ is particularly satisfying and this painting is also from a limited range of materials. Just three colours, Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre and Cobalt Blue for the bulk of the painting, with a few strokes of Chrome Green Light in the foreground in the last few minutes of painting.

As with recent paintings there was no medium used, just White Spirits. I’m very happy with this method at the moment and I’ll continue to use solvent only. The only drawback is the amount of time spent waiting for the solvent to evaporate. Speaking of which, the ventilation is most important particularly as this is not ‘solvent only’ in the traditional sense. This is floods of solvent sitting on the surface of the canvas, which is flat on a tabletop. I started this tabletop method when I began video recording the painting process over a year ago. The biggest restriction is the canvas size. A 16″ x 20″ is probably the largest ‘comfortable’ size. I could of course lie the canvas on the floor!!

The actual painting time was about two hours, spread over four hours. I’ll have the video of the process for the next post. See you then.

Harvest – Time Lapse Painting


For the unlearned, old age is winter; for the learned it is the season of the harvest.

This is a technique you might like to try. It involves using a solvent only, like White Spirits, to flood the surface of the painting in washes, allowing the spirits to evaporate between applications. There is absolutely no medium added. However, remember there is a certain amount of medium already in the paint, but in spite of this the painting will dry to a very flat, matt finish. It will, most certainly, need to be ‘oiled out’ when dry (see here).

It reminds me of ‘loose’ watercolour painting, in that the flow of the liquid very often determines the shapes and textures of the final painting. I use this technique to counteract the ‘heaviness’ that can creep into my paintings if I concentrate too much on technicalities. Here, its haphazard and accidental, but I let it flow (literally) and then add the final touches, normally the highlights. This is in fact the reverse of traditional watercolour, where the lightest washes are applied first and the final touches are the darker colours.

Brushes used

There are a few things to be aware of. The vapour from the solvent is toxic and flammable. Need I say more! The solvent will flow everywhere, so the canvas will have to be horizontal, or flat on a table top. A soft ‘watercolour’ type brush will be useful to carry the liquid as is the case in watercolour painting. Included on right is a photo of the brushes used. The large ‘filbert’ on the left is used to blend the colours and soften edges but not to apply paint. The second is a standard round bristle, used to apply the final layers of paint. The third is the ‘watercolour’ type brush and the two on the right are nylon fine tipped for details.

There are many advantages in this type of painting technique. The later layers of colour sit nicely on the under colour, for example the painting of the trees on the sky was easy with no contamination of the dark colours in the fine branches. When medium is used in the sky mixes I will usually have to scrape a track with the knife to accommodate the fine lines of trees as in this painting. The paint manufacturers (Windsor & Newton) say this is the only ‘safe’ way to use oil colours. Very thin layers with the minimum of medium. The problems of cracking, flaking, extreme long drying times, etc are reduced or eliminated. But as I said previously, the painting must be ‘oiled out’. There might be a problem with colours which are not fully permanent. Extremely thin layers of a ‘fugitive’ colour could make the fading more noticeable than a thicker layer. I am probably overly concerned with permanence as is reflected in the ‘dull’ colours of my limited palette.

Here is the video of the painting process. The size, about 13″ x 20″. The actual painting time was about an hour and a half, with another hour spent waiting for the spirits to evaporate between applications of paint and going outside to ‘take the air’.

Harvest – Oil Painting


There is a panic in our farming community because of the continuous wet weather and the difficulties it causes. When the sun does shine, its intensely hot and the crop dries, but the ground is waterlogged making it impossible to operate heavy machinery. Hopefully we get a few more days like the one in this painting.

This is a limited palette painting again, Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna and Cerulean Blue. What’s unusual with this painting is the application of paint. There was no medium used and the colours were applied as washes with White Spirits. The method is similar to watercolour but with the order of light colour first, reversed, with the shadow colours built up first. The only problem is with ventilation as the Spirits evaporate quickly.

I will go into the method in more detail in the next post when I have the video of the process.

Summer Storm – Oil Painting

Summer Storm

The weather is depressing at the moment. The winter grain crops are nearly ready to be harvested but the rain has made the ground soft, too soft for machinery. In this painting the storm clouds are dark purple and the ground is gold. There is a reversal of tonal values. Normally the sky is the lightest area of a painting.

The colour range is larger than normal for me. There were 6 colours used. Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow and French Ultramarine & Cerulean Blue. Viridian Green and Raw Umber are also in there. The painting is 17″ x 14″ and was painted in about 2 and a half hours. Most of that time was in weaving a pattern of suggested detail, especially in the foreground. The corn swaying in the breeze can’t really be expressed visually. Photography has influenced the way we view realist paintings. A slow exposure photograph would result in a blurred image which we have been conditioned to associate with movement. Its an abstract image as the real world does not have ‘blurred’ objects, regardless of how fast the movement is.

So the pattern of jagged brush strokes in a multitude of colours and tones is an attempt at producing a ‘feeling’ of chaotic movement. The sky also has diagonal patterns to induce a feeling of energy. So this ‘peaceful’ scene (on the surface) is the aftermath of a thunderous rain and hail storm. The ground is waterlogged and the crops are battered down, and there is more to come.

As usual I’ve recorded the painting and will post next time. See you then.