Sunday, 17 May 2015

Demonstration of an oil painting.

I have been asked if I would demonstrate how I work on a small 'daily' painting showing the different stages along the way.  My art is a kind of evolves as I work and at the end it mostly does not look like the initial idea.

For this example I will use a photograph of a coastal sunset which is clipped to my easel.  I don't always work from photographs; sometimes I use sketches and occasionally I will paint outside but mostly I prefer to be in my studio so I can use my imagination and not be distracted.  Getting ideas comes from walking in the countryside and the coast or in the town.  I look for light and how it adds drama to the subject.  I take my camera and notebook for sketches and notes so I can get references to use later.  

This small canvas board is set up on my is 6 x 6 inches.  The first thing I do is select my palette of oil colours which I am likely to use this time.  I am using Winsor & Newton Artists' quality oils.   Ultramarine blue, cobalt blue, phthalo blue, quinacridone magenta, cadmium red, lemon yellow, cadmium yellow, Winsor yellow deep, raw sienna, burnt sienna, and titanium white.  I may use some or all of these.  I have a small amount of quick drying medium in a lid at the side of the tray.   I use short and long flat nylon brushes.  Not too small which encourages looser strokes.

The first stage is to scrub some oil onto the board to take away the bright white.   A thin wash of ultramarine, magenta and burnt sienna is applied and then wiped off and left to dry a little.

Stage 1...

Stage 2...

I begin blocking in the main shapes for the composition and wipe out highlights with a rag.  I add some colour too but this may change as I progress.  This stage is to get a rough idea of  how I want my composition.  I shall make adjustments along the way after I step back to eye it up. It is easily wiped over if I am not happy with the overall design.

You may have noticed that the photo is upside down...I always begin the painting this way until about halfway through so I just see shapes and colours and not too much detail.  This keeps me from tightening up in the early stages and becoming too precious about the subject.  I can see now that the horizon line is too central and the water's edge is running off in the top left corner.  Time for some re-positioning.

Stage 3...

 I turn the canvas and photo around to check my composition.  

The land looks better placed now but the horizon still looks too low.

Horizon is about where I want it but the land has slipped down again so needs adjustment.

I re-positioned the lights and adjusted the other shapes and colours. I am beginning to get a feel now for how I want the painting to look but there is still a long way to go before I am happy with it.

Stage 4...

Adding more paint and varying the colours I started abstracting the subject a little.  At this stage my reference photo takes a back seat as I want to let the picture evolve and put my own stamp on it.  I like to express myself in my art and not render something to be 'reality'.  

At this point I sculpt the paint with my brush making shapes, aiming to create a 'sense of place' and atmosphere in my picture.  I add more colours, take some away and generally push the oils around teasing out a composition to my liking.  I am not afraid of destroying parts of the work to create something new.  Taking risks is part of my growth as a painter.  I work until I feel the picture is balanced with a sense of harmony then I step away.  There is a fine line between stopping in time and ruining it by wanting to add just that little bit more.  

Here is the finished painting.

  I am happy with it now and will give it the title...

     ' Norfolk Melody'   

Oils on canvas board  6 x 6 inches   SOLD

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