Spring Light

Spring Light

Spring Light

The woods are about to spring into life. The light has arrived but the temperatures are still a bit low. At the moment the trees are bare, except for the beeches with their brown, over-winter foliage. Soon it will be green, green and more green and I will be trying to add a bit of ‘spice’ to this monotony. Its always a challenge.

I was trying to convey sunlight without the usual ‘sunny day’ look. Cool sunlight, fresh and clear. The curtain of blue (Prussian plus a little Lemon Yellow) in the background and water, dominate the scene. The touches of warm colours (Burnt Sienna, green and yellow) produce a vibrant contrast.

The painting has a graphic look created with a sign painters ‘liner’. An inexpensive nylon brush used to paint long continuous lines on signage. Trees drawn with these long unbroken lines, from the ground upwards, convey the growth patterns of trees. The loaded brush at ground level produces a thick heavy line which thins as the brush travels upwards. Its important to rotate the brush between your fingers, especially at the fine line stage. This keeps the bristles pointed, otherwise, instead of really fine lines you’ll get a ‘furry’ blur.

Remember, I don’t use a medium. The background has to be a really well brushed, thin layer of paint with solvent only added. In a few minutes the solvent evaporates and this can be painted over with the fine lines. The paint used to ‘draw’ the fine lines has the consistency of ink, produced by adding loads of solvent and ‘mulling’ the paint with the flat of the palette knife. If this paint does not contain more solvent than the surface on to which you are painting, the background paint will be lifted onto the brush with no paint will be applied. This technique irritates many traditional oil painters who like the thick, sticky consistency of oil paint.

Also remember I use Alkyd Oil Colours. These are fast drying colours and begin to ‘set’ as soon as they are applied, so the background can be painted earlier than with traditional oils.

The colours used were Winsor Lemon, Burnt Sienna, Prussian Blue plus black and white. I used a single filbert bristle and the ‘liner’ mentioned above. The solvent was Artists White Spirits (a petroleum spirit for thinning paint). The size is 13″x9″.

Here’ the video, see you soon.

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Forest Walk

Forest Walk

Forest Walk

There is nothing as inspiring, at this time of year, than the trees as they slowly change their colour and prepare for winter.

Its an opportunity to paint in an ‘impressionist’ way with loads of suggested details in the splashes of colour. Its interesting to note that the colours of the background trees are practically the same as the reflections in the water. The shimmering water is suggested by the blending of the colours in the reflections. This is a similar technique to the way I paint skies as in the previous painting (here). Its the contrast in the texture of the paint which tells the viewer which is the solid parts and which is the fluid movement of the water surface. Sharp details, in the foreground tree and grasses, painted directly onto the soft under colours of the water reinforce this contrast.

There are only 3 colours (Winsor Lemon, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue) plus black and white used here. There is no medium used, only White Spirits.

Here’s the video. See you soon.

Near Ross Castle, Killarney – Oil Painting

Near Ross Castle, Killarney

Near Ross Castle, Killarney

If you visited Ross Castle at Killarney, you probably passed this scene. I thought as a subject for a painting this was more interesting than the usual ‘tourist’ scene of the castle and lakes. The circular shape of the bridge and its reflection has a surreal appearance in this ‘jungle’ like setting. I painted the bridge and boats as smooth regular shapes and everything else as chaotic blobs of paint.

I’m still using the Alkyd fast drying paints and these are way more flexible in a single session painting. Another characteristic of Alkyd is the ability to paint on more absorbent surfaces than you would do with standard oils. This painting is on Daler Oil Painting Paper. I’ve had this for years but found it way too absorbent for oils. The only disadvantage is its mechanical weave not like the organic texture of canvas. The paint layer is thick so very little of the weave is evident in the final painting.

The painting was completed in under 2 hours and I will have the video of the process in a day or two. See you then.

The Possibilities of May – Time Lapse Painting

May

The Possibilities of May

The pressures of work have kept me from posting in the last few days. I include here the video of this painting and will see you soon.

The Possibilities of May – Oil Painting

May

The Possibilities of May

Between storms the sun’s heat is driving the midges and Mayflies into a frenzy. The natural world is, at last, waking up to the possibilities of May. I was thinking of how I would manage a painting with swarming insects to suggest this intense explosion of life. I tried to find a painting with swarming insects to see how other artists would approach this subject. I couldn’t find any. Plenty of drawings and painting of individual insects, but none as an element in a landscape. I took a photograph of one such buzzing swarm. To represent this image in a painting as it appears in the photograph would amount to a splatter of dots. Very acceptable in a photograph, but looking like a mould growth on a painting.

Swarming Insects

Swarming Insects

I haven’t given up on painting this subject yet. It means working out a setting and context to portray this overlooked natural process.

With this ‘coming to life’ in mind I created this painting. No insects, just the possibility of a swarm, and the beginning of the cycle of life and death. I felt that sombre contrasting colour and an obvious repeating pattern of verticals would create an ‘edgy’ mood of expectation.

Again I used only 3 colours. Windsor Lemon, Burnt Umber and French Ultramarine Blue. I’m still using Alkyd fast drying oil paints and like the speed at which I can overpaint without a ‘greasy’ build-up of paint.

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

Rough Winds – Time Lapse Painting

Rough Winds, Kellyville Lake

Rough Winds, Kellyville Lake

In the last posting I mentioned a little about the construction or composition of this painting. Its a subject I’m the most uncomfortable with because its that which starts as a vague idea and grows into a form  continually changing. The inspiration driving us to attempt a particular painting, decides the shape and direction the painting will follow. So its difficult to quantify and put into words.

In traditional landscape painting there are simple guidelines like placing objects off centre and balancing the the whole arrangement. In reality I find it much more complicated than this but I like having a framework or guide to follow. Its difficult to create in a vacuum.

All painting is ultimately abstract. The apparent balance, colour harmony and recognisable scene, etc., collectively are like the cover of a book – an invitation to read the contents. Unlike a book the contents are not literal, more like a piece of music, you like it or you don’t and you can’t say why.

I learn a lot from watching other artists work. As the saying goes, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ and a moving picture is worth even more. Here is the video of this painting. See you soon.

Rough Winds, Kellyville Lake – Oil Painting

Rough Winds, Kellyville Lake

Rough Winds, Kellyville Lake

‘Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May’ (Sonnet 18, W. Shakespeare), and we are getting our fair share of rough winds at the moment.

I started this painting with 3 colours only, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna and Prussian Blue, and decided after a few minutes to add Viridian Green. I was interested in producing a natural landscape of a typical May day and the greens produced by mixing Yellow Ochre and Prussian Blue when placed in situ just didn’t look rich enough. At this early stage in the painting I was able to add green to the sky to spread the strong green around a bit. A strong colour can look unnatural if it is confined to a small area as it was going to be in the left foreground of this painting.

The composition is a little odd. Diagonal lines can suggest movement, so the sky was composed in this way. Its diagonal is strengthened by connecting to the solid left lower corner. This is a hidden structure to help the feeling of movement conveyed by the trees and vegetation  in the scene. The vertical line of the lake, lower centre, could have continued the diagonal line and moved to the left but I think as a strong vertical it draws attention to the trees and grasses and how strong the wind is.

I will post the video in a few days. See you then.