Slaney Walk – Time Lapse Painting

Slaney Walk

Slaney Walk

Because Alkyd colours are not capable of producing the same rich range of mixed colours as standard oils, I’ve increased the number of starting colours on the palette. I’m using 6 colours plus traditional oil Titanium White and Ivory Black. So its a mix of Alkyd and traditional oils.

I like the speed of drying of the Alkyds. I don’t like the lack of richness in the resultant mixes. This is an interesting characteristic of these paints. The pigments are the same as in oil paint but the binding agent is similar to Liquin. Why they should behave differently is very curious.

I have just completed another painting with the same selection of colours and found the same limitations in mixing. I have found new effects caused by fast drying, however. The surface of the painting can be made more textured by dragging wet paint across an almost dry under layer. This is something I can’t do with standard oils, painting alla prima. Layers of different colours can be placed on top of previous layers, partially covering them to build up complex rich textures as the individual colours don’t blend together.

I think I will try a slightly different approach next time. I will use Alkyd colour up to a certain point in the painting using solvent only, then switch completely to standard oils. Alkyds are more transparent and I have found this to be the case especially in solvent washes. This is good for shadows. The more subtle shades available in standard oils I’ll use in the mid-tones and highlights.

Here is the video of the above painting. See you soon.

Slaney Walk – Oil Painting

Slaney Walk

Slaney Walk

Just a quick post in honour of the patron saint. A Saint Patrick’s Day painting, to be sure. Green, green and more green. This is a beautiful walk along the banks of the Slaney River on the grounds of Altamont Gardens.

I’m playing around with the Alkyd oil paints. Doing all the things I couldn’t do with traditional oils. I will post the video of the painting process in a few days with a bit more on the how I’m adjusting to the fast drying oils.

See you then.

The Copse – Time Lapse Painting

The Copse

The Copse

There are limitations in every medium and quite a few in the art of oil painting. Traditional working methods are best served by painting in stages, allowing each to dry before the next stage is begun. This process does not suit my current painting method, which is ‘alla prima’. By choosing this road to follow I accept the limitations – wet underpainting, no glazing or scumbling, and possibly the most limiting, the inability to ‘backtrack’. This means the final colours, mostly containing white, are almost impossible to alter once put in place, except by scraping off.

Its to do with the slow drying of oil paint which favours slow working. One of my ‘workarounds’ is not to add any medium, just solvent to the paint mixes. Another is to use Liquin as the medium. This is an Alkyd medium and is principally used to speed-up the final drying time of paintings and this it does admirably. However my use of this medium was because it made under layers ‘tacky’ while the painting was in progress. An advantage over wet oily layers but not ideal.

I suppose its a natural progression to go further into the Alkyd based oil colours and this is what I’m experimenting with at the moment. My first surprise in using these colours is the speed at which they dry. In this painting, the initial blue, applied with solvent only to the sky, was dry enough not to mix with the subsequent applications of paint – 10 minutes later. I didn’t expect this and actually wanted a certain amount of mixing to happen. Next time I’ll use less solvent or maybe add a little Liquin instead of solvent. Another surprise was with the distant hills on the horizon, they were scumbled over with the light grey of the sky. Impossible to do with traditional oil paint. The light colours of the ploughed field were dry enough to be glazed over with a transparent layer of Raw Umber. At this point in the experiment I’m pleased with the Alkyd paints and will continue to see how far I can push the method.

A word of caution. Be careful of you brushes if you try this medium. If you use a large number of brushes and leave some of them standing for long periods (a few hours) between usage, the paint will have started to dry. I would normally use very few, adjusting the colour on the palette to allow for the paint already on the brush. This is not a normal practice but suits the Alkyd method of working. It would seem that much of what I was doing with traditional oils was more suited to the Alkyd method.

I have just completed another painting doing all the things I was not able to do previously and will post it soon. In the meantime have a look at this video of the above painting. See you soon.

Woodland Lake – Time Lapse Painting

Woodland Lake

Woodland Lake

In the last post I mentioned ‘oiling out’ with a vegetable oil if Liquin or a similar medium is used in a painting. Its a long time since I was discussing this issue so if you are new to this blog you might be wondering why I would recommend this treatment.

I have a page called ‘Varnishing Oil Paintings‘ and its the varnishing which is the kernel of the issue. The manufacturers of Liquin are cautious about varnish being applied to a paint surface containing this product. Windsor & Newton recommend that the uppermost paint layer should not contain Liquin if you intend to varnish. As ‘alls prima’ paintings usually have only one layer the implication is that it should not be varnished if Liquin was used. Unfortunately there is no reason or explanation given by W & N as to the reason for this recommendation. I can only assume its because Liquin will bond with the varnish regardless of how dry it is. My workaround is to ‘oil out’ with a pure vegetable oil, like Linseed or Poppy, which time has proven does not bond with a varnish. This vegetable oil places a barrier between the layer containing Liquin and the varnish.

Remember there are other instances where varnishing causes problems. Low grade solvent, for example hardware grade white spirits or turpentine, can contain waxes or resins. These never fully dry and harden, and solvents in a varnish can dissolve and mix with the paint layer.

All of this is purely academic as the problems occur if the varnish has to be removed, in cleaning the painting, at some time in the future. Paintings under glass will not be subject to the same accumulations of dust or grime as those exposed to the atmosphere. I’ve had to clean paintings and remove old varnish and its impossible to proceed without damaging the painting if some colour is seen in the varnish removed. In these instances I would just remove as much dirt as possible with a damp wad of cotton wool, allow to dry, then use an aerosol temporary varnish to disguise any uneven glossy/dull patches. Reframing under glass will stop any further accumulations of dirt.

Here is the video of the above painting process. See you soon.

Woodland Lake – Oil Painting

Woodland Lake

Woodland Lake

I used Yellow Ochre in this painting, as the only yellow in a palette of three colours. The other two are Alizarin Crimson and Prussian Blue. Its similar to my last painting in subject matter and also its a three colour painting with the difference of Cadmium Yellow replaced by the Ochre. In retrospect, I think the Cadmium would have been better in terms of variety of colour and vibrance. I’m pleased that I’ve managed to include a lot of Crimson without it dominating the painting as it did in ‘Winter Stubbles‘. I will have to decide to stick with a set of strong colours, or weak colours and not mix them unless for a very specific reason.

In recent months I had stopped using a medium in paint mixes. These paintings are ‘oiled out’ now and I’ve noticed a definite lack of ‘body’ in the paint layer when compared to previous paintings. The ‘oiling out’ does correct the problem to an extent and so to ‘beef up’ the paint layer I’ve started to introduce Liquin, in tiny amounts, to the mixes. At the moment this means using a second container with a very dilute solution (25%) of Liquin and White Spirits which is added a few drops at a time as I mix the paint. The other container has White spirits only. Even this small amount of Liquin makes the paint flow better than with solvent alone especially in fine lines. It does make painting easier.

Remember if you use Liquin or a similar medium be sure to ‘oil out’ with a pure vegetible oil like Linseed if you intend to varnish the painting. I will post the video of this painting in a few days, see you then.

Borderlands – Time Lapse Painting

Borderlands

Borderlands

I had a query from Annie regarding making oil paint flow like liquid without loosing its colour intensity. I was reminded of my own efforts in producing an oil paint which behaves more like watercolour (see here).

If you are familiar with my videos of the painting processes you will notice how much time I spend ‘mixing’ the paint. I am, in fact, making the paint liquid. It is something I do without thinking, so thank you Annie for drawing my attention to this very important part of my technique.

I don’t like painting with ‘paste’. This is the form the paint is, in the tube. Picking up a bit of paint on the brush and dipping it into the medium and then applying it to the canvas is NOT what I do. I rarely ever dip a paint covered brush into either the medium or the solvent containers. I transfer the liquids using a pipette into the paint mixes on the palette. Using a firm but flexible knife, I press the paint and added liquid against the flat surface of the palette. This ‘mulls’ the paint, similar to the process used in the manufacture of the paint (using a ‘muller’). This reduces the ‘paste’ nature of the oil paint and makes it more liquid, the way I like it.

Check it out in this video. See you soon.

Borderlands – Oil Painting

Borderlands

Borderlands

I’ve painted this area before, last March (2012) to be precise. This time the colours used are completely different. In the previous painting (here) the colours used were Burnt Sienna & Raw Umber (red), Yellow Ochre (yellow), Cobalt Blue and Sap Green. This painting has only Cadmium Yellow, Alizarin Crimson and Prussian Blue. Here, the stronger colours have contributed to a richer more dramatic colour scheme. I don’t think its better or worse than the other painting, only different.

As I was saying in the last post (here) using very strong colours and staying within the bounds of natural landscape colours means effectively painting in variations of grey. Remember mixing the three colours used in this painting in roughly equal quantities produces a very nice grey. Varying the quantities  of one or two in this three colour mix of unnatural pigments produces the range of colours seen in the painting above.

The approach is so different from the painting of last March. In that painting the starting colours are natural, Sienna, Umber and Ochre, straight from the tube. Even Sap Green can be be used, as a natural landscape colour, without much adulteration.

I’ll post the video of the painting process in a few days. See you then.

Bert House – Time Lapse Painting

Bert House

Bert House

Trees in winter, deciduous trees that is, present a particular challenge to the painter. There is no foliage to cloak those fine lines that define the shape. But its necessary to be able to draw the shapes before you paint them.

Trees in a traditional landscape define the scene. The number, type and placing are important if a particular scene is to be recognised or for a design or compositional purpose. Its difficult enough to place the trees as general shapes but its not good if you have to draw in every branch from observation. So being able to ‘construct’ a tree similar to the one you need, is a worthwhile skill to learn. Remember, trees grow to a formula which is found throughout the natural world from the shape of the air passages in our lungs to the delta of the Amazon River.

The rules are simple. The most important one is, the large branch or tree trunk is equal in volume to the sum of the growth of smaller branches into which it splits. Put simply, the branches get consistently smaller the more they split into smaller growths or the longer the shoots have grown. The next thing to keep in mind is that the branches are presenting the leaves to get the maximum light. Different species of trees have developed their own way of achieving this, so there are different basic shapes. Its not necessary to be a botanist or tree expert to recognise the different types as long as the viewer of painting can also recognise the different types.

Practice drawing from photographs or nature to get the route the lines of the branches follow. Using charcoal or a pencil allows a continuous line to be drawn. Start every line at ground level and let it ‘grow’ upward. As each line is added, and not overlapping previous lines, the trunk of the tree gets bigger and if you draw along previously created branches they also get bigger in proportion to the number of lines added. These individual lines end as a fine branch. The tree ‘grows’.  So each branch is the sum of all the lines or smaller branches added. I find this works for me as a starting point with accidents or design changing the shape as I go along.

Painting, as opposed to drawing, using this procedure adds a few difficulties. Paint from a brush is not a continuous line, and a flowing line is needed to give the look of a growing branch. Also the thickness of a brush stroke varies. I use a small long bristled nylon brush which I rotate between my finger tips as i draw. The long bristles hold a lot of paint so you get a longer line. The paint should flow like ink and this works if solvent is used with a little ‘flow helper’ like Liquin. By lifting the brush upwards as I draw the branches, the line gets thinner. This is one of the few advantages of a brush over the charcoal or pencil. Another advantage of brush and liquid paint is to place reservoirs of paint in the thicker branches and use the brush to drag the paint into the finer lines of smaller branches.

I hope this does not sound to complicated but it becomes automatic with practice. This video shows how I used this method on the trees in the foreground. Although the basic principle is followed there are many places where the rules were bent and twisted to achieve the end result. But its good to have some basic guide to follow.

See you soon.

Bert House – Oil Painting

Bert House

Bert House

“Bert House was built between 1720 and 1730 for Captain William Burgh who was Comptroller and Accountant General for Ireland to a design prepared by his brother Thomas Burgh of Oldtown. Thomas was Barrack Overseer in Ireland, a position to which he was appointed in 1701 and was responsible for the building of Trinity College Library, Dr. Steevens Hospital, Dublin and Collins Barracks in Dublin. The latter building is now part of the National Museum of Ireland. The original Bert House consisted of a central block of seven bays, three storey high over a basement. The overlapping side wings were added early in the 19th century. It’s a house steeped in history and the people who lived in Bert House figured prominently in Irish history at various times.” This is an extract of an interesting article written by historian, Frank Taaffe, as part of his Eye on the Past series.

Bert House Photo

Bert House Photo

Its still an impressive mansion on the bank of the River Barrow a few miles north of where I live. I’ve included a photo I took some time ago. In the photo the river is hidden by the line of trees in the middle distance. From the viewpoint I used in the painting, the house is obscured by trees on the river bank. So this painting is a combination of the two viewpoints, probably how the scene would have looked in former times when the grounds were managed in keeping with such a grand estate.

In the last post I mentioned the problems with using a single strong colour in a limited palette of three or four colours. In this painting I’ve used three very strong colours, Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Yellow and Prussian Blue. There are none of the problems of any one single colour dominating the painting as in recent paintings. This is achieved by using all three in every single colour mixed. Most of the mixing is on the palette with some mixing produced by blending colours together (as in the sky). Another way of ensuring all three are in the applied paint was by using the same brush repeatedly without removing the previous paint. In this case a ‘filbert’ No. 8 (three quarters of an inch wide). Of course mixing equal quantities of all three produces a grey (as in the clouds), so for example, when a green was needed the crimson was reduced but not eliminated completely.

The video will be ready to post in a few days, see you then.

Winter Woodland – Oil Painting

Winter Woodland

Winter Woodland

This is more like the snow we get here in Ireland. Just a dusting which melts quickly and adds to the already water logged landscape. It does provide a more interesting scene with loads of variety and texture. Its a harsh climate with temperatures fluctuating a little above and below freezing.

There are two stories in this composition which can be viewed as two separate pictures. Both journeys are equally difficult to traverse with a promise of wet feet whichever route you take.

Snow in shade, without the blue, was what I was playing with. With blue skies and sunlight, the shaded areas of snow do take on a blue colour, but here in the shade of trees no such lustre exists. This probably would not fit into the ‘winter wonderland’ category and so its out of the running as a Christmas card image.

The colours used are exactly the same as the previous painting (here) but how different the paintings are. There are more greens, even though the Raw Sienna/Prussian Blue does not produce the best greens, but there is so much white in these areas the weak green is more visible. This was a bit of a surprise as I was expecting the overall colour to be a variant of the Raw Umber which was a large part of the underpainting.

I’m very busy in my ‘day job’ at the moment and don’t get much time for painting, and less for Blog activity. I will post the video of the painting over the next few days. I think this painting took me longer than normal, probably about three hours, which is longer than it should have. I probably spent too much time ‘constructing’ the landscape, even the parts which will later be covered up. I’ll have to work harder in controlling this.

See you soon.