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Tuesday, 12 October 2010


I think so; I took a wonderful photograph of this today - better than the one I'm going to post, bar one thing - an unidentified flying insect settled right on top of the pole to the left... I may be able to remove it in Paintshop Pro, if I can remember how to use it. But, for the time being, I have tightened up details, without I hope overdoing it, applied a limited amount of glazing, and I think it's more or less there: I shall post it on the Painters Online website, and see what fellow-artists make of it. Didn't add any further colours, so the total palette for this painting was Flake White; small quantity of Titanium White; Indian Red; Cadmium Red Deep; Raw Sienna; Yellow Ochre; Naples Yellow; Indian Yellow; Cadmium Yellow; tiny amount of Sap Green; Pthalo Blue; Cobalt Blue; tiny amounts of Indigo, Vandyke Brown, and Mars Brown. The greens you can see - the Sap Green was mixed with red,l to make some of the deeper shadows - were all mixed from blue, generally Pthalo, and a variety of yellows. I found Indian Yellow especially useful in the early layers, it gives a quite luminous quality thanks to its transparency. The brand I used on this occasion was Winsor and Newton's.
It did turn out somewhat dark in the end, the sky determining the amount of light in the picture. It reminds me in style of a painting of a sadly deceased friend of mine, Barry Rawlings - doubt he'd be flattered by the comparison; but he had a thing for romantic landscape, and the Undercliff is an area which would have suited him well.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Stage three, not finished yet...

But on the way there - this again was taken with a flash, so certain parts of it, especially the lighter colours in the lone tree, are exaggerated. I don't want to add a lot more "drawing" with the brush; it's going to look dangerously overworked if I do. But I want to add some subtle glazes over the next few days, as the paint dries out. I've had to add - well, felt I had to add - a little work in Titanium White, in order to prevent it seeming excessively dark. I would have preferred to have started and finished in Flake White, but it just needed a little help. There may be the suggestion of a mast on the hill, as well, just to give a little more depth, interest, and balance the tree a bit. The glazing could well be where my limited palette idea falls down flat, since I'm almost bound to use a few more colours. But so far, this painting has seen Indian Red, Cadmium Red Deep, Raw Sienna, Yellow Ochre - wish I'd used Rowney's, which is a lot brighter - Indian Yellow, Cadmium Yellow, Naples Yellow, very small quantity of Sap Green, Pthalo Blue, Cobalt Blue, extremely small touches of Indigo, Mars Brown, and Vandyke Brown. So not that limited a palette, now I think about it... But: I always have used a wide range of colours in oil and acrylic, as opposed to watercolour - I know that limiting the range is said to bring harmony, but while I think that's true so far as the major masses are concerned, it comes close to masochism to restrict oneself to half a dozen colours, and quite honestly I think some make a bit of a fetish of it.
I shall have several days to let this dry, because I seem to have meetings to the end of the week: most of them to do with the health service, and the Government's latest White Paper, which contains proposals which I fear will lead to the privatization of health in England. Speaking of which, we have an Isle of Wight Council by-election in my Ward - the Labour candidate came to see me this evening to get me to propose him on the nomination paper; 18 years old.... This is far from being prime Labour territory, but I hope people will find the enthusiasm of a young man like this an encouragement to get out and vote. It would make a change to have a few young faces ... I'm especially pleased, because there was a horrible danger that I might have had to fight the seat myself if this young man hadn't come forward: and I'm getting far too old for this sort of thing; I've done it all in the past, but certainly don't want to be doing it into my dotage. Politics aside, it does you good to see a bit of ambition and optimism: and someone who's prepared to face a not necessarily receptive electorate and just have a go. Maybe you've got to be young to do it.... Nowadays, I'm much rather paint.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Stage Two, Work Still in Progress

Here's the second stage of the oil painting I started yesterday. I was able to work on it again amazingly quickly, because I used Flake White with a little low-odour thinners and, in places, a very small amount of linseed oil. The surface today was just the right degree of tackiness that I like.
I rarely if ever finish an oil painting in one session. This is partly because of arthritis - just can't stay on my feet long enough to work for hours on end, and sitting down on the job isn't much more comfortable; apart from which, standing up to the canvas enables brush strokes from the shoulder; if you're sitting down, the tendency is to paint from the wrist. For detailed work, however, I use a table-top easel (courtesy of my mother's generosity!) which enables me to take a good, close look at what I'm doing.
But the other reason for not finishing a painting in one go, or "alla prima", to give the technical term, is that while I have nothing against it as a technique, it never was my preferred way of working even when I was a bit more flexible than I am today. I like to build things up, with lean paint, then thicker and richer paint (ie, with more oil in it), and then to apply glazes. You can't do that in the alla prima technique; and I think most painters actually use a combination of techniques in practice - they may do most of the work in the field, but I suspect come back and apply the final touches in the studio.
Anyway: we are still a long way from the finish-line with this, but I think it's coming on; mostly worked with large flat brushes, with some stippling with a fan brush so far; and I realized that I also used a little pthalo blue in the greens, which I didn't mention in the last posting. You'd never have got those deep colours with just cobalt. No ready-made tube greens (yet!), but I've also brought in some Yellow Ochre, and a little bit of Cadmium Yellow.
A problem is going to be to stop this turning out too dark - hmmm. We shall see.