We have not had snow, yet, but these frosty foggy days, for a few hours each day, leave a carpet of white, glowing until its burnt away by the midday sun.

I liked the contrast between the dark ragged spiky hawthorn tree and the blanket of soft white frost. As you will see in the video, I used a painting knife to draw the fine branches of the tree. No brush, regardless of how small, could achieve the sharpness of these lines on such a small painting (12″x9″).

A painting knife is specifically designed, like a builder’s trowel, to allow paint be applied without your fingers touching the surface of the painting. A palette knife is usually flat and difficult to use as a painting tool. The only time I use a painting knife is when I need a fine line, either by painting as above or scratching into the wet paint.

This painting has the same colours as the previous one i.e. Raw Sienna, Raw Umber, Dioxazine Purple, Cerulean Blue plus black and white. There is no medium used, only White Spirits.

Here’s the video of the painting process which took just under 2 hours. Excuse the slightly ‘dodgy’ clip of the painting of the river..No, I was not using 2 brushes at the same time – SD card problems while recording!

Winter Woodland – Time Lapse Painting

Winter Woodland

Winter Woodland

Pardon the absence. The ‘day job’ has been all consuming in the last week. In these times of recession I’m not complaining, but it means very little time for anything else.

The last few paintings were produced as artwork for Christmas and/or greeting cards. In a way its good, occasionally (and ONLY occasionally), to have a purpose outside your own artistic self indulgence. Unlike most artists, I have absolutely no interest in trying to ‘make my living’ from my paintings. To do this would mean compromises, and to be commercially successful would possibly push the artist into following trends and fashions not in keeping with the preferred course. The starving artist in the garret is an image from a time when most of the population was also starving. Nowadays, the independently minded artist is the starving artist, not a good way to be working in any case. But of course there is always the wealthy patron…

Because of the way I’m recording the paintings at the moment (painting and palette in the same horizontal space) its difficult to produce a vertical shaped painting. A designer for the print industry (like myself) will sometimes crop an artwork to fit a particular layout. I will cut this painting (the image not the physical painting) into two vertical cards. The ‘double’ composition lends itself to this treatment and as cards they are less ‘aggressive’ than the original painting. This original composition was not intentionally created to be used in this way, the ‘day job’ guy decided it would be ‘commercially’ viable. This is an example of compromise for the purpose of commerce. Below are the two artworks which are ‘tamed’ sufficiently to be used as cards. The original was not ‘greeting card’ material.

Winter Woodland 2

Winter Woodland 2

Winter Woodland 1

Winter Woodland 1

There is a lesson to be learned from this. Painting on ‘loose canvas’ (un-stretched) will allow a painter to ‘cut down’ a painting conveniently, sometimes rescuing an otherwise unacceptable work. Its not a random slicing, but will require an artistic input on par with the effort of producing the original painting.

Here is the video of the painting. See you, hopefully soon.

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.

Blue Christmas – Time Lapse Painting

Blue Christmas

This is a nice combination of colours with the dominant one being Prussian Blue. Its little wonder the overall colour of the painting is this strong bright blue. From a distance the blue would seem too much but I found as I enter this blue landscape it seems natural. I think this illustrates the importance of including a ‘spectrum’ of colour in a landscape. I will always have the red, yellow and blue represented by colours which fit into these groupings.

In this painting the blue skewed the colour into the blue end of the ‘spectrum’ and this is OK if there are yellows and reds there as well. How different this is from a ‘monochrome’ painting where a single colour only is used. An popular example of this type of painting are sepia sketches. No matter how ‘realistic’ the rendering, the element of ‘real world’ is not there. We are always conscious we are viewing a ‘drawing’.

This means I will never have less than three colours in a painting. With so few colours its important to know which colours ‘fit’ well together. Its only with experience that these combinations can be worked out. Not only must they look well together but they must also mix well together. An example of this is Indian Red. Its a brilliant rust red in the tube. But all mixes with this colour produce ‘dirty’ colours. Burnt Sienna is a similar colour, but the mixes are clean. In this painting the grey of the clouds is made from a mix of Burnt Sienna and Prussian Blue. The resultant grey is clean and vibrant enough for fluffy clouds.

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

Blue Christmas – Oil Painting

Blue Christmas

In this painting I used my usual method of applying unmixed paint, with White Spirits only, to the canvas before the final colours are overlaid. Actually, now all the paint is applied with White Spirits only (see recent posts about excess oil in paint tubes). The difference is that unmixed paint, straight from the tube, is transparent and in its raw state is as vibrant as the colour will ever be. This layer of unmixed paint is good when deciding the structure the painting will take. Its like colouring the initial charcoal drawing. Although this layer of paint will mostly be covered up, it has an enormous effect on what happens later on.

Knowing the ‘coloured sketch’ will be covered allows experimental shapes and ideas to happen. Even in the blue gradient of the sky, the initial blue erratic shapes add interest and variety to an otherwise dull flat final layer. I will often under paint in the opposite colour to the final. For example, in the areas I knew were going to be snow in shadow (very light blue) I under painted in Raw Umber. This moderated the later light blue paint by slightly mixing with it, and any parts not covered by this ‘snow’ had ready-made deep shadow or vegetation.

The colours used were Burnt Sienna & Raw Umber (red part of spectrum), Raw Sienna (yellow) and Prussian Blue. As always black and white are there too, but they are not considered as colours. The painting took about two hours over the course of a Sunday afternoon. The weather is so cold now, the excess solvent I use is taking a long time to evaporate. So a two hour painting stretches to four hours.

I will post the video soon. See you then.

Snow Stream – Time Lapse Painting

Snow Stream

I’m very busy in my day job so I am making this a quick post. You will notice from this video that the initial under colour was not the usual unmixed paint straight from the tube with only White Spirits. This time the colours were mixed with white and applied with the solvent.

This is a critical difference. Allowing white paint into a painting in the early stages can be disastrous. Because this is a snowscape, which ends up almost all white, makes this less problematic.

In a standard landscape, I will paint the landscape and at the very end will ‘turn on the lights’ by adding paint containing white. I am so particular about keeping white away from the paint mixes I will wipe the palette to remove white paint.

Here is the video. See you soon.

Snow Stream – Oil Painting

Snow Stream

This started out as a subject for a Christmas card. Now I think its a little too ‘gritty’. The composition strays too far from the ideal, non challenging one third ‘point of interest’ arrangement. Also the snow is just not ‘right’. As I said in previous posts, Christmas card subjects are difficult to define. I might change my mind about this painting in a few days, at the moment its just plain old nasty winter.

The colours I chose were possibly a little ‘rough’. Indian Red was in there with Burnt Umber to make up the red part of the spectrum. If you want a difficult colour, Indian Red is a contender. Its a strong red  in mixes to a point, then at lower concentrations collapses into a dirty grey brown. Prussian Blue is also a strong tinting colour, good for shadows in snow. The yellow was Raw Sienna a golden yellow, which in this painting was dominated by the other colours. So maybe I was expecting too much from this combination.

I’ll post the video of the painting process in a day or two. You will notice I’m still not using any medium. Recent paintings done like this should dry very matt and dull, but this is not the case. Confirming what I think, that recently manufactured paint contains more medium in the tubes than was the case a few years ago.  See you soon.