Spring Sunshine

Spring Sunshine

Spring Sunshine

There is a noticeable brightness, spring is here.

This painting is a celebration of the return of bright days. The composition and general design follows the classical format, drawing the viewer into the painting along enticing visual paths disguised as part of this natural landscape. I added a few paths to bring the viewer back to explore more. But before this, the sky had to be formulated.

The sky had a number of functions to fulfil. Firstly, it set the mood of the scene. A fresh lively day and an inviting landscape to explore. Added layer by layer, each blended into the previous, there was no definite plan. I knew the final focus in the painting was going to be on the left side, with the sunlit trees, approximately one third of the width in from the edge. So to bring a balance on the right side, the sky needed activity in this area. This was achieved by having a general absence of yellow in the sky, and using it noticeably on the clouds to echo the sun lit trees which would be painted later.

The viewer stands in shadow and is drawn to the light. You can follow the river, starting at the left, to discover the distant mountains and their smoky blue colour. This translucent layer was applied as a solvent rich paint and is so delicate its not noticed until the viewer arrives here. Another route into the scene is on the right side, through the open gate and turning left across the river into the sunlit trees. Or you can travel along either bank of the river to reach the rich farming lands.

Notice the small trees on the extreme left and right sides. I use these like bookends to keep the composition contained. As I mentioned earlier the focus of the painting is the trees on the one-third position on the left. The one-third position on the right is where the river and shaft of light intersect helping to balance the composition.

This painting uses only 3 colours (Cadmium Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue) plus black and white. There is no medium used, only White Spirits.

I made much use of the transparent under colour in this painting. The line of the far bank of the river is the blue left uncovered and is glowing in the shadows. The foreground shadow of dark green has a lot of the crimson under colour coming through. These shadow areas can be overly heavy and adding lighter shades will destroy the richness of transparent shadow colour. To see these details click on the picture above to see an enlarged version.

The size is 16.5″ x 12″ and was painted in a single ‘wet on wet’ session in about 2 hours.

Here is the video of the painting process. To view in realtime change speed setting to .25. Quality can also be set up to 1080HD. See you soon.

Winter Marsh

Winter Marsh

Winter Marsh

The unusual lighting in the winter skies is creating very colourful landscapes with warm colours on very cold days.

Sometimes even the finest brush can’t get the really thin lines as needed in the distant trees above. Or maybe the wet under colour just won’t allow it. As my method is ‘wet on wet’, scratching the paint with a point is always an option. Depending on the pressure applied, you can reveal the white primer or with a little less pressure the under layer of raw colour. The problem is, as it is so easy to do it can be overdone.

I have a few other interesting variations on this technique of scratching the wet surface. Here is one I use from time to time. A pool of very liquid paint is placed on the surface of the painting. It can be drawn out into very fine lines with a point or as I use, the nib of an old pen. An example could be the trunk or branch of a tree in dark brown, painted in blobs of liquid paint on a wet sky layer. By drawing the point out of the blob of liquid paint you scratch a fine channel in the wet sky paint into which the liquid will flow – producing the finest branches no brush can match.

By clicking on the image above you can get an enlarged view of the painting. See how the under colour is revealed in the scratches.

3 colours used (Indian Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue) plus black and white. There is no medium used, only White Spirits. The size is 16.5″ x 12″. Most of the painting was done with a No. 8, long filbert bristle. A No. 12 was used to blend the sky but not apply paint. A small round bristle and nylon liner were used for details.

The painting process is below. To view in realtime change speed setting to .25. Quality can also be set up to 1080HD. See you soon.

The Plantation

The Plantation

The Plantation

At this time of year, greys and browns dominate the landscape. If you feel like a bit of colour you will only find it in the sky.

This drainage ditch, dug mechanically straight, aligns perfectly with the setting sun, like a neolithic monument on this one insignificant day in the year. The artificial straightness is part of the cultivated plantation. On this side of the fence the wilderness is trying to get in.

This was a time consuming painting and I blame the placing of individual leaves in an apparent random pattern on the bare branches of these trees. Its a difficult process, to create a pattern and have it not look like a deliberate design, but looking like the randomness of nature. We instinctively create patterns or see patterns especially when they are not needed.

This painting is 16.5″ x 12″. There were only 3 colours used (Indian yellow, Permanent Rose, Ultramarine Blue) plus black and white. There was no medium used, only White Spirits.

Here is the video of the painting process and remember to view in realtime change video speed setting to .25. Quality can also be set up to 1080HD.

Morning Gold

Morning Gold

Morning Gold

Still a little snow here and there. I have exaggerated the amount for dramatic effect.

I used low odour solvent in this painting. It did not suit my method which uses a lot of solvent, allowing it to evaporate and building up layers of paint. A bit like a watercolour method but using solvent instead of water. This solvent did not evaporate quickly but lingered on causing all kinds of issues. It would be OK in traditional oil painting where layers are allowed to dry for a few days before proceeding. These issues relate to my ‘wet on wet’ method where the under paint must be ‘dryish’ before later layers are added. I don’t like thick ‘greasy’ paint as introducing fine lines or details is nearly impossible.

The low odour solvent has a high boiling point so it evaporates much more slowly, thus reducing the concentration of vapour by releasing it over a longer time. Its probably in the interest of safety, reducing the exposure and fire hazard. This issue arose because my usual supplier of W&N white spirits is now shipping in small containers only, again to do with health and safety. These small quantities will work out expensive but I have no alternative at the moment.

This painting uses only 4 colours (Indian yellow, Permanent Rose, Raw Umber, Cerulean Blue) plus black and white. The medium used is Liquin and White Spirits. The size is 16.5″ x 12″.

Here’s the video, see you soon.

Corner Field

Corner Field

Corner Field

Frosty weather at last. The recent mild weather with heavy rain has left flood water in the most unusual places, as in this corner. The colours in the landscape will change. The icy dew on the grass, now a silver sheen, will start the sepia colouring process.

I’m still using the same 3 colours I used in the previous painting (Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna and Cobalt Blue). Some of the paints I use are Alkyd colours. They are quick drying oils and are mixable with standard oils. In traditional oil painting, that is painting in layers and allowing the layer to dry before applying the next, they are good as base layers. As final layers over standard oils they can lead to problems as they dry quickly sealing off the slower paint and retarding the drying.

I don’t paint in layers and the standard oils and Alkyd paints are thoroughly mixed or blended in a single layer so, hopefully, I won’t have problems with flaking after a few years. The use of Alkyd paint allows me to paint fine lines ‘wet on wet’, difficult with standard oil colours.

I’m often asked how I manage to do those fine lines onto a wet underpainting and this is part of how its done. I also do not use a medium, only solvent and this evaporates quickly leaving the underpainting, with its Alkyd content, almost ‘tacky’.

The painting is 12″ x 9″. I used 3 colours (plus black and white), 3 brushes (a large filbert, a medium flat, and an fine liner) and solvent only.

Here’s the painting process, see you soon.

 

Flooded Canal

Flooded Canal

Flooded Canal

The ordered lines and shapes of the canal are lost in the floods from the nearby river.

I used the same 3 colours as in the previous painting (Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna and Cobalt Blue). The sky is mostly grey. However, I did not mix my 3 colours and apply a flat layer of paint. This is so dull the entire scene would look sterile. The 3 colours are there. But by applying layers and blending with flat ‘cross hatching’ swipes while still wet, an infinite range of subtle greys are produced. The above photo does not reproduce the true variety of colours – a rainbow of tinted greys.

The painting is 12″ x 9″.

Here’s the video of the process, see you soon.

Cold Front

Cold Front

Cold Front

Cold Front is a term used by the weathermen. Its the interface between high and low atmospheric pressure. For us in Ireland, a Cold Front means nasty weather. Sometimes the change can be seen sweeping across the sky.

At the moment, the UK and Ireland are suffering from record breaking rainfall. In residential areas the floods have caused devastation – not a nice way to spend Christmas, and according to the weathermen, there’s more on the way – today. This little pasture in a normal year can provide grazing for 10 or 11 months. No so this year.

The colours I used were Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna and Cobalt Blue (plus black and white). These 3 are the most versatile I use and can produce the most ‘natural’ landscapes. Here are a few I’ve painted over the last few years.

October Colour

October Colour

Summer Shelter

Summer Shelter

Wicklow Storm

Wicklow Storm

Daybreak, Dollardstown Wood

Daybreak, Dollardstown Wood

These are the subjects of previous posts and can be found using the search box.

I use only 3 colours so the resultant mixes have to be good. Each colour I apply will have the other 2 colours present to a greater or lesser extent. Sometimes its only the remnants of the previous mix on the brush which alters the colours.

Note the behaviour of the blue in the skies here. Its all the same Cobalt Blue. Yet tiny amounts of the other 2 colours will not ‘kill’ the chroma of the sky blue but changes it in the most subtle way. This is more difficult with the other blues like Ultramarine, Cerulean or Prussian. I think the pigments in Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna and Cobalt Blue are just a good combination.

The size is 16″ x 10″. I used only solvent – no medium. For a time I was using a single bristle brush –  a large filbert. I found this OK especially progressing from one mix into the next. But a brush shape can put a pattern into a painting which I had to disguise at times so I am now using a medium sized round as well as the filbert. I also use a fine nylon ‘liner’ for thin lines and occasionally a knife for really thin lines.

Heres the video of the painting process.