The 28th Lock – Time Lapse Paintings

The 28th Lock

The 28th Lock

The 28th Lock (2)

The 28th Lock (2)

In recent times I’ve been stretching the capabilities of traditional oil painting to the stage where some of my practices are almost unworkable. It boils down to this, the medium of oil painting was not designed to be used in this way. Floods of solvent, forced drying with a hair dryer, no added medium, paint messaged and manipulated until it behaves like ink, the expectation of a finished painting in under 2 hours, etc, etc. Add to this the fact that some of what I’ve been doing is downright dangerous and unhealthy. Solvent fumes, heaters, poor ventilation, all while I’m smoking my pipe. Time for a change.

I’ve been looking at Alkyd oil paints and I will start to introduce them gradually, firstly with the under layers. The main difference between this paint type and standard oil colour is the binder. Paint is made from pigment, binder and solvent. Standard oils use a vegetable oil as a binder, Alkyd uses a Liquin type material as its binder.

The concerns I’ve had with Liquin, since I started using it, were eased a little after my research into Alkyd paints. The technical spec. on Liquin mentioned not using it as a last paint layer especially if the painting was going to be varnished. Without a reason for this recommendation, I assumed there was a danger of Liquin binding to the varnish, especially as it was advised to use a standard oil medium as the final coat or for ‘oiling out’.

Liquin and Alkyd binder are similar materials – chemically modified vegetable oil but remaining mixable with the oils from which it was produced. On its own it dries very fast forming an impervious, inflexible layer. These 2 issues will cause problems if this medium is used as a final layer over normal oil paint. Firstly, an impervious layer over a standard oil layer will stop the oxidation of the under layer – the painting will not dry underneath. Secondly, an inflexible layer over a flexible layer will eventually flake off.

What this also means is that Alkyd oil colour is an excellent under paint. Inflexible and fast drying. Also, if the under layer is not fully dry and is painted over with standard oil paint it will mix, forming an homogenous layer without the issues caused by separate layers. It looks promising.

As usual I’ll document the process and progress. In the meantime here are the videos of the above paintings. If your computer and broadband are up to the task you can run the two simultaneously to see the different methods of painting side by side. See you soon.

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The 28th Lock – Oil Painting

The 28th Lock

The 28th Lock

The 28th Lock 2

The 28th Lock (2)

The last lock on the Grand Canal where it joins the River Barrow at Athy, the 28th Lock was built in 1792. Arthur Guinness was instrumental in having the canal extended to Athy, from where he received his supplies of malted barley. There was no wheeled transport in Ireland at this time and his expanding brewery needed this extension to connect him directly to St. James’s Gate, the front door of his brewery in Dublin.

After I completed the painting (on top) I felt the treatment was a bit harsh. The second painting was completed the following day with a softer approach. I was interested in the late morning light when the sun was high and the last wisps of fog were burning away. I was also going to have more colour, in celebration of spring, as my recent paintings, when seen as a group, have the gloom of winter all over them.

When separated, each of these 2 paintings is OK. When seen together, one seems to illustrate the limitations of the other.

I videoed both painting processes and will post them in a few days. See you then.

Dunamase – Time Lapse Painting

Dunamase

Dunamase

A prominent feature of this painting is the glow in the sky. The obvious contributors to this effect are the darker tones placed around and over the area of lighter colour. This is easy to understand and therefore easy to plan when composing the painting. Dark clouds and dark silhouetted trees were part of my plan for this painting.

However having said that, the lighter colours in the sky have a brightness which would nearly work without the help from the darker contrasting tones. The accompanying video shows how I achieved that light yellow glow.

I have found it almost impossible to mix these shades on the palette. One of the biggest difficulties is in mixing very light colours. The colour on the palette is isolated from the painting and there is no way of knowing if it is right until it is placed in situ. Then you realise the tone is not right.

In this painting I painted a layer of pure Cadmium Yellow, with solvent only, into the area of the sky where the light will be. The Prussian Blue is added in a similar way in the appropriate areas of the sky. When the solvent has evaporated, a mix of this blue and white is added, with no medium or solvent added, on top of the previous layer of blue. This is dragged into the gap between the yellow and blue  and there is a little bit of overlap onto the yellow. Pure white is placed, without brushing, on top of the yellow, heavier in the centre and less so the further out from this centre. When the white is in place, gently brushing it with a flat brush will make it pick up the yellow underneath. The more you brush the more yellow it becomes. Similarly, with the blue. This allows you to adjust the colour relative to the rest of the sky.

An important part of this process is the use of only 2 colours, Cadmium Yellow and Prussian Blue. Too many colours in a mix reduces the chroma of the resultant colour. Have a look at the video to see how this works in practice. See you soon.

Dunamase – Oil Painting

Dunamase

Dunamase

This impressive ruin is all that remains of the Norman fort of Dunamase in County Laois. A natural outcrop of rock, this most certainly would have had a role to play in pre-historic times, but the current structural remains date only to the 12th century. There is an historical record of a Viking raid on the fort in 845ad. It was assumed that these raiders came from Dublin, the closest known Viking settlement at that time. However, recent research suggests that there was a huge inland Viking fort at Dunrally not too distant from Dunamase and from here its more likely the raiders came. There is a short history in Wikipedia (here) and Dunrally (here) if you are interested.

Dunamase Photo

Dunamase Photo

I include here the reference photo I used to create the painting. As is usual, a photograph really is only a reference. The construction of the painted landscape always needs that bit more to connect with the viewer. A single viewpoint is so limited in telling the story. In the painting I’ve included what I remember of the landscape. The historical background and the sense of former glory add a drama not conveyed in a photograph.

My next post will include a video of the painting process. I’m trying to get back into the habit of using larger brushes to avoid getting tied up in too much detail. This approach is a faster method of painting. The painting was completed in about an hour and a half.

See you in a few days.