This painting is bigger than my normal size. When I change painting size I try and change the brush size relative to the change in painting size. Its probably not such a problem in going from large to small, but going in the other direction can lead to overworking. A brush size you are comfortable using to paint distant details on a 10″x8″ will require a different approach in painting similar details on a 20″x16″. I like a looser brush style so when I forget to scale up brush size I tend to do a little too much fiddling. In general I think, for me at least, larger brushes produce bolder painting.
In the video of this painting, I’ve indicated where the second stage started, after the first stage was dry. Glazing usually requires a flat transparent layer applied uniformly. I applied a heavier layer at the edges to create a ‘tunnel’ into the scene. A problem I find with glazing over a thin layer of paint which has the canvas texture showing, is that the recesses of the canvas weave hold a thicker layer of glaze emphasising the texture of the canvas. In the sky of this painting, especially the brighter areas, this was the case and it didn’t look good. I added a little white to these areas to create a smooth untextured colour.
Last full moon occurred close to the Summer Solstice. In Ireland at this time of year, the sky is still bright after 11pm and never really gets fully dark, with the first light of dawn barely 4 hours later, at 3am. This year there was also a full moon. It was so bright the birds, totally confused, were active all night. What I remember most vividly were the moon shadows.
Nightscapes are difficult to paint. The problem is that at low light levels, we see only in black and white, with very little colour. A camera sees colour in low light, its just a darker shade. In the 17th and 18th centuries artists were unaware of this lack of colour vision at night and portrayed their nightscapes in low key colour as they imagined it to be. More recent nightscapes are monochrome or as we see them. As I work mostly from imagination, this painting falls into the former category.
Moon Shadows Unglazed
I painted this in 2 sessions. The first stage produced an unusual landscape, looking like night time, but much too bright. The second stage was to glaze over the dry paint with transparent dark colour. The painting’s colours were Alkyd oils, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna and French Ultramarine. The glaze was a mix of standard oil paints, Burnt Sienna and the Ultramarine with Stand Linseed Oil as the medium. The base painting was dry enough to glaze after 24 hours because of the Alkyd paint used. I used Stand Linseed Oil in the glaze because it is less likely to leave brush marks and it is much slower drying, allowing the Alkyd colour underneath to fully dry first.
The painting is 20″x16″, painted in 2 hours with about an hour spent glazing. The 3 colours are, more or less, the same as I used in the last few paintings. I videoed the process and will post in a few days. See you then.
This technique is very much a mix of different paint applications, not the traditional oil painting method. Over the years I’ve painted in watercolours and pastels. This time for a change from my normal method I used some watercolour and pastel handling methods. Of course its not exactly the same, and not something I would do on a longterm basis.
There are thin liquid washes of White Spirits with fine details painted over the ‘dry’ washes as in watercolour. Because of the medium in the oil paint, the washes are not fully dry as in watercolour, nevertheless, the effect is similar.
Also used is an application of paint similar to pastel. The colour is applied flat using the texture of the canvas to remove the paint from the brush. Sap Green is applied in this manner on the trees. Pastel colours are not mixed, each colour and shade are a separate paint stick, which is drawn directly on the textured paper. So it was with this green. Again, because the under-colour was still not fully dry there was a certain amount of mixing.
Sap Green is one of the few green colours that can be used in this way. Its very transparent, for this reason its dark in tone in the thick layers and lighter when the layer is thin. So when the wide brush containing pure Sap Green is dragged over the surface of the painting a range of green tones are produced. Add to this the mixing with the wet under-painting and an infinite variety of colours are produced.
The ‘painting’ of the moon was actually paint removed with a fine brush moistened with spirits. The circular shape was pressed onto the canvas using a strip of waste canvas rolled into a cylinder. I roll the piece into a cylinder until the diameter is what I need. A compass would seem to be the best way of doing this but the solid piece of canvas can be felt and the diameter seen as a solid circle. Its difficult to draw a perfect circle so this is my quick way of getting a circle at the correct size.
Here is the video of the painting process. There is more on this painting here.
There’s a little chill in the air to remind us that winter is coming. However there will be a period of changeover when, from one day to the next we can get summer or winter conditions. This seasonal transition is reflected in the individual days where daytime and night overlap in twilight. The most unusual sights are to be seen in the landscape at twilight, sometimes almost unbelievable and can be dangerous for the landscape artist. As I’ve said before, natural phenomena are unsettling in paintings. But not so in photographs, which as we all know, nowadays, can be as ‘creative’ as paintings. Very strange!!!
A limited palette as usual was used. Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Prussian Blue, plus Sap Green. As with the last painting I did not add any medium to the paint, just White Spirits to apply the paint in washes. I have been using this technique quite a bit lately. It allows great control of detailing, plus there are ‘accidental’ flows of paint, like with watercolours, can add interesting shapes.
The picture size is about 16″ x 22″. This is bigger than my usual size. The ‘solvent only’ technique is faster than the normal method. Nevertheless, I use larger brushes with larger paintings. This means I’m scaling up my working relationship between brush and area to be covered. This relationship is central to the working method. A bigger canvas with the same size brushes would need an adjustment in the working method.
I’m working on the video which is a few minutes longer than usual. A bigger painting takes more time to complete. See you soon.