As you probably know the medium I use is Liquin plus a little (5-10%) Stand Linseed Oil. The addition of the oil is to slow the drying of the Liquin which begins to dry and go ‘matt’ after about an hour and a half. Generally, in oil painting the shadows are painted first so I was having the problem of the shadows drying and the tone becoming lighter by the time I got to finishing the painting.
Recently I tried ‘Drying Poppy Oil’ as a replacement for the Stand Linseed Oil in the Liquin medium mix. Even though there was such a small amount used the effect on the mixing of paint on the palette was noticeable. The paint seemed bulkier and jelly like, which was good when transferred to the canvas. As you probably noticed from my videos I do a lot of manipulating of paint on the canvas. This is why I don’t use pure oil as it gets greasy with colours seeming to slide around on top of each other and not blending together. When this is thinned with White Spirits to reduce this effect, the paint becomes thin and without body. The addition of the Poppy Oil was great, but there was a little problem. The drying time was much, much longer than Linseed Oil, even though the Drying Poppy Oil has driers added.
I intend to use Drying Poppy Oil on its own, without Liquin, and see what happens. I know that Poppy Oil is less flexible than Linseed Oil, but I don’t use stretched canvas so flexibility of the paint film is not that much of a problem for my method. However, I may be prepared to wait a long time for the painting to dry, which isn’t a problem either, if I can keep the midges from sticking to the surface. I love the paint handling afforded by Liquin, but I have a niggling worry about later varnishing issues.
In the last post I was talking about the random and chaotic nature of cloud shapes and how photography’s frozen images of skies have conditioned how we see skies in paintings. At the moment I am seeing how far I can go portraying skies as we now accept the images, and try and fit this apparent chaos in a traditional landscape painting.
In this painting the eye is lead along the bank of the stream, exiting the scene on the right. This ‘weight’ on the right hand side is balanced by more detail in the sky on the left, but keeping this balancing act hidden in apparent random shapes. The plan was to create an inviting world to explore, which the viewer will hopefully find more familiar than a scene with the usual stylized sky.
I think there is a limit to how far this can go. I’m reminded of the ‘uncanny valley‘, a term used by the creators of ‘human like’ robots. We are happy with robots which are vaguely ‘human like’. As the robot becomes more ‘real’, a point is reached where we feel a sense of revulsion. It becomes too ‘real’. So it is with how ‘real’ I can make my skies. A sky looking like it was cut and pasted from a photo will cause a sense of revulsion.
I have learned a little from this exercise. I like my paintings to be on a ‘knife edge’. I think I will apply this to skies, pushing the shape towards an almost uncomfortable reality.
Here is the video of this painting process. Colours used,etc. can be found on the previous post. I have just completed another painting for the next post which has a similar sky treatment to this painting. See you then.
Just a short post to accompany this time lapse video. The painting of the sky should be of interest to a painter having problems with cloud shapes. You know what I mean. The ‘morning after’ you finished your painting, you feel your finally finished, and you are confident it is a good painting. You go and have a quick look before going to work. Ahhhh… the sky is full of – ‘SHEEP’. SHEEP! Fluffy fat ones, demure ones, punk ones, every breed of imaginable sheep. Your lovely clouds, which you painstakingly sculpted the previous evening, have been transformed into sheep!! “W…T…F…”, you say (internally, of course). Mischievous elves, gremlins, jealous neighbours…, someone or thing has ‘got-at’ your painting overnight – you repeat the previous exclamation. Then, the realisation strikes you. You recognise the shapes. Your wonderfully realistic, fluffy clouds are more like sheep than clouds (‘sheep in disguise’ – ‘sheep-in-the-skies’, get it!).
Pardon the levity. But I’m entitled to make fun of the situation – I’ve been there, done that. My solution, or a solution which works for me, is to ‘almost randomly’ place cloud shapes and blue sky shapes in the sky area. I’m not mentioning all the other stuff like perspective, light and shade, colours etcetera, that’s another days work, just getting those ‘natural shapes’ you find in clouded skies. By swiping the brush lightly across the surface of the painting, usually diagonally in doth directions, the painted shapes are disturbed in a haphazard way and also blended a bit with the blue. Its not easy and takes practise, but its easier than trying to draw a compositionally accurate, realistically rendered bunch of random shapes that look good. The video demonstrates the process better than trying to explain. Also, check the previous post for materials and other stuff relating to this painting.
Here’s the video, watch out for the ‘sheep buster’ at 0:58.