Recently I’ve been experimenting with different sized brushes. Trying to reduce my dependence on very small brushes to paint details in landscapes. Its a good exercise for a beginner, as you probably know if you remember your first paintings. Many a fine painting went into a spiral of ‘fiddly’ details never to be completed. I remember it well – could I ever forget? I’ve decided that for my style of painting I need to ‘add touches’ with a fine brush. I actually got agitated when I finished a painting without ‘the touches’. I won’t go back and finish them off. I’ll leave them as a reminder of that particular phase.
Another restriction of the ‘large brushes only’ syndrome is placing figures in a landscape. Its messy. A well placed stroke with a fine brush can not only add a figure but add movement or gesture as well. I’ve been practising figure painting lately with a view to painting more ‘figures in a landscape’ type paintings. I actually prefer the loneliness of deserted places and these are frequent subjects for my paintings. But its time for a change.
Going back to basics is the best approach. Read all the books, look at all the videos and then start from scratch. Its amazing the variety of methods used by different artists. Take a little from them all and discover your comfort zone.
This picture is painted from a photograph of one of my grandchildren. I obviously know the particular child in the photo but I can’t decide which of the children it looks most like. I’ve got the ‘family resemblance’ but not the personal likeness. At least I’m making progress. I hope to break the process down into simple steps and add my particular method to the multitude already out there. I’ve already discovered a few essentials which were not mentioned in the material I’ve viewed. For example, the shape of the head (or silhouette) is essential, also, the precise shape of the eyes and the position on the head determines the likeness. This is where the fine brushes are required. but more anon.
Buy the way, I’ve added a new page with most of the paintings discussed in these posts. The relative sizes are not correct but its nice to see them all together.
Still on the subject of Autumn, this painting is an imaginary scene with the feeling of summer’s end and the golden glow of September.
The colours were: Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna and Cobalt Blue. Other colours: Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow and Cerulean Blue. Extra colours: Burnt Umber, Chrome Green Light and Raw Umber. Also, black and white. I think in terms of red, yellow and blue. These and their mixtures represent the spectrum of colours found in nature. The colours above also mix well together in the groups indicated which could be considered as the ‘craft’ part of oil painting.
Very little medium was used in the initial stages of the painting, with Liquin used to paint the details using the ‘rigger’ brush. I also used nylon brushes for details which have a less pronounced ‘bristle’ effect.
This is a time lapse video of the painting discussed in my last post. By not using a medium (normally Liquin) the colours ‘stay put’ and have to be dragged around the surface. This gives a particular look to the painting, the dry paint and canvas textures of Impressionism or Pointellism. See this painting by Georges Seurat.
A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, Georges Seurat (detail)
As you will see in the video the constant movement of the brush over the surface builds up the multitude of colours. The importance of using colours which work well together is illustrated by the fact that every piece of the painting has all of the colours in varying amounts built up one on top of the other, wet on wet, yet there are no ‘muddy’ or dead areas.
Its nice to remember the bright days of summer as we approach the dark days of our winter months.
Another small painting (8″x10″). Painted in an afternoon, stops and starts, you know how Sunday afternoon is! The actual time should have been less than an hour. The video will be posted next time and it is important because brushwork is the key to this painting. There are many changes from previous works. Lets start with the colours. The subject of the painting dictated this set. Alizarin Crimson, Yellow Ochre, Cerulean Blue – that’s the red, yellow and blue. Supporting cast – Raw Umber and Sap Green. But the biggest difference from previous colour schemes is that there is no black. White, of course, there is in abundance. Also, no medium used until I get near the end. The brushes are all relatively large for such a small painting, but as mentioned in previous posts this is something I am trying to do from now on.
By omitting black I am forced into keeping the painting ‘high key’. That is, the overall image is light in colour. This is important for this subject. I sometimes think my paintings tend to be a little bit on the dark side (see Bluebell Wood) and this is an exercise in raising the tone of the painting. As you will see in the video, I continually work over the painting to add as many interesting shapes and colours as possible. The background could have been a dull flat hedge with too many distracting details and I certainly did not want to have a ‘photographic blur’ (see Photography,…). I wanted the brush marks to be visible and details to be suggested.
About the model: Sarah (one of grandchildren), loves pulling flowers in the garden. She is very determined, sometimes she goes a little overboard, so she works fast before she’s apprehended. I have a few photographs of the time she ‘blitzed’ the place, it was May, apple blossom time. Her mother (my daughter) was the very same at her age and looked very like her as well.
I should have the time lapse video soon as it’s a short movie. I will be compressing it down to about 8 minutes, and because the initial is only about 30 minutes the movement won’t be too fast.