Archive for September, 2009


Things that work –

Using Oil paints : more complex, texture

Don’t use turps or even odorless solvents… they are poison! Use linseed to clean brushes.. so then the whole process is more harmonious.  Even in the case of the underpainting, which needs to be leanest.. I think is better to work with thin linseed layout than to dilute with solvents, which also breaks the strength of the binding medium [basically its just a powder sitting on the surface if you go 50/50 turpentine/linseed..too weak.]

For a good weight/mix/handling viscous shiny feel.. use 50/50 mix of a good linseed and a good stand oil.

One of the things we know – every part of the picture affects every other part..this leads towards a way of working all over the painting and building up the whole surface together.. totally wrong the approach of doing a region by region [as done by ingres, David.. sorry guys.. Velasquez wouldnt have worked this way.. hes dancing all over the canvas at once…]

Working wet into wet works well… nice cohesive surface, smooth transitions. Not necessarily  standard alla prima.. can work into a semi wet underpainting.. or paint on white and work in colour.

Im painting a lot more now…I got bogged doen in prissy finishing to make the surface blend well..but it takes away the liveness.. a lot of realist painters fall into this trap.. but look at Rubens and Velasquez. They paint freely ‘gail layin on the colour’

Use GOOD colours… Winton arent good enough!  Use blochx, old holland or michael harding – basically maximal pigment loading, high quality oil and nothing else..no filler content.

Can get a lot of colour and complexity by using only a very very limited palette, say

Titanium White, Cadmium Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Red, Burnt Sienna, VanDyke Brown, Prussian Blue.

You get the most intense and strong blacks with a Prussion blue base – either mixed in or underpaint in blue.

Free handling… dont intermix too much – let colours meld wet into wet naturally.. can get close but not fully blended, from a distance mixes visually like pixels..so becomes continuous not discrete, without deadening the colors.

Mix mainly on the painting.

Painting a lot now – roughly one per day, to blast through not a block, but a kind of over-prissiness, and focus on the whole.

Experimenting with a lovely new italian linen canvas – put some onto thin mdf boards using PVA, worked well, minimal warping.  Very nice natural surface, medium weave, some slight irregularities which are nice to work on.

So, were gonna move from Winton budget paints which are a bit thin, to the best quality Mike Harding colors and only need about 6 colours.

VanDyke brown makes ome superb mauvy-pinky-brown-grey shades excellent compleity for skin tones…

BUT some color vendors dont have this in their range, so Ill find out how to mix it from other colours, or break it down to a mix from burnt umber or such.

StevePavlina blog has some great ideas and in depth discussion on life.. More Truth Love Power is a good thing in every endeavour..  For me in painting this is Honesty/Integrity Feeling and Action … Action fr me means doing what I need tobecome great at painting.. that means painting a lot, playing lots of tunes on the violin if I was a musician, for me is doing the small works, completing them, bold, attacking all the pieces Im not happy with, being prepared t ruin an ok picture to make either a write off or a great picture, taking the risk.

Things Ive done well.. taking a 5year detour to draw from life and my imagionation, study figurative traditional art and anatomy even when I could make acceptable abstract works.. this took courage and integrity, and now Im just getting back to having some stronger freer elements in figurative work.  Its worth it. Now I want to continue that, and do lots of smaller copies from Velasquez and Rubens and from life and even photos, while Im finding my own style organically.

Normally working from photos is bad, as they almost always have bad areas where the 3d anatomy is unclear, which are not present in good paintings.. but once you have more life drawing you can use the photo not too literally as the basis for a viable work.


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