Oil Painting, more brushes – less work


As I paint this little picture (8″x9″) the wind and rain is pounding the house. This is the season of muted colours with the threat of winter hanging in the air. I will try and give this feeling to the painting. The colours, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Cerulean Blue and Raw Umber. The brushes, medium round and larger flat bristles. The medium was Liquin only and White Spirits. The muted colours achieved is a direct result of using Cerulean Blue as opposed to Cobalt as used in May Meadow and other ‘rich’ coloured paintings.

Using only 2 brushes was an experiment to see how the time to paint was extended by having to clean them continually as I paint. I knew having extra brushes, one for the each different colour mix, was more efficient, but I didn’t know by how much. Recording the painting process involves starting the camera before each application of paint and stopping the camera to think, clean brushes, light my pipe, put the dog out, etc. The time from start to finish was about an hour, but the actual painting time was a little over 15 minutes. I think by using 6 brushes the painting would have taken maybe 35-40 minutes. So, for me, more brushes in use means faster painting. Another good reason for using more brushes is that the continual cleaning is stressful on the brushes, which means they wear out faster.

Details suggested using large brush

On the subject of brushes, lately I am trying to resist using really small pointed brushes to put in details. I think this makes the details too sharp and out of ‘sync’ with the strokes of the bristle brushes.

I will post the video next time. It will appear slower than usual as I will be reducing painting time from about 15 minutes to 7 or 8 minutes.


Rough canvas painting

Bogland Birches

This painting is on a piece of linen canvas. I prepared the surface about 30 years ago and primed with a mid grey. The surface is very rough even though the weave is fine. A texture like sand paper. At that time I prepared 10×10 foot pieces on a stretcher of that size and later cut it up to stretch on smaller stretcher pieces. It was a time consuming job but, at that time, well worth the effort as commercially prepared canvas was very costly.

This surface is very different to what I use at the moment. I’m not impressed by the rough texture of this canvas and had to adjust the style of painting to accommodate it. In a way its easier to use, as the surface absorbs the paint and several brush strokes are required to actually paint a item in the picture. There is plenty of scope to correct a miss-placed brush stroke.
Birch trees are a feature of bogland, and there is plenty in County Kildare where I live. They are creepy places steeped in history and folklore. Only recently another ‘bog body‘ was found which is believed to be 3000 years old. Human sacrifice or execution, no one knows for sure. Boglands are wet absorbent places, with their own eco-system. All is enveloped and does not decay so there are no nutrients in the lower layers – ideal for shallow rooted birches.
A video of the painting process will be posted whenever my computer returns, hopefully in working order. Did you know there is an application for WordPress for the iPhone? Without my laptop I’ve been ‘playing’ with other gadgets. A post can be written, including photographs, and published from the phone from anywhere. Mad stuff, worth further investigation.

Art Materials – from where?

When I decided to start this blog I decided only to make contributions which are of interest or value to anyone who bothers to read it. I will resist the urge to outpour details of the trivia of my life and times and keep the format simple and straightforward. This post, I think, will be of interest to Irish readers living in relatively remote areas, of which there are many in Ireland. Where I live there are no art supplies outlets. There are, of course, suppliers of craft products and stationery items but not the ‘artists’ grade or range of materials. I needed some paints and Liquin and would have to order ‘on line’. This normally means a UK based company which means an extended wait for the materials to arrive. I discovered ‘CorkArtSupplies’ an Irish based ‘on line supplier. I ordered 5x37ml tubes of Winsor & Newton paints, 500ml of Liquin and a small brush on Sunday night (after midnight, so actually Monday morning) and received the package today (Tuesday morning) by post. The prices were not significantly different from what I would have paid elsewhere and the range of materials is good. Check it out!

Outdoor sketch, Church Ruins, Inis Oir

Summer is slowly arriving and I am looking forward to getting out and painting a few ‘bright, green landscapes’. I intend to video some of these painting sessions but will have to reduce the size of the paintings. A 1 hour painting compresses nicely into a 10 minute ‘time lapse’ YouTube video and is not too compressed. I personally enjoy watching these type of painting videos. Not too long to be boring and as they say ‘a picture is worth a 1000 words’, especially a moving picture.

On left, an ‘on the spot’ sketch, a possible painting in the future.