Thursday, June 26, 2014

Lola - oil on canvas, 11x14 inches

11x14 inches
Oil on canvas (on panel)

Some friends asked me to paint a picture of their late dog, Lola. She was a really loving and gentle dog, so I did my best to put together a fitting tribute.

Here are a few progress shots from my phone. First, the rough thumbnail sketch I used to plan the composition.
Here is a shot of the block-in.
A little further along. I moved the tree over to the left a little to make things balance better.
I used some glazing and scumbling to unify the fence and grass with themselves. I know these progress shots probably make it seem like I work in a willy-nilly way. Maybe... But I do like to get something rough down first, and then refine it. And I also like working the whole canvas at once, rather than finishing one part all the way, then moving on and finishing another part all the way, etc. Working the whole thing at once keeps me from putting in too much distracting detail.
I painted this on canvas, which went slack as soon as I finished the block-in. Grrrr. So rather than risk ruining the work I'd already done by restretching it, I took the canvas off the stretchers and mounted it to panel. Ampersand has a nice cheat sheet for that here. Panels are much better than stretched canvas anyway... Being rigid, they're subjected to less flexing (from temperature, humidity, and careless humans) than a stretched canvas, which means less strain on the painted surface, less cracking, etc. Mounting canvas on panel gives you the best of both worlds: the texture and feel of the canvas with the stability of a rigid support.

Older works on panel in museums are almost always in better shape than those on stretched canvas. Did you know the Mona Lisa was painted on panel? And the Arnolfini Portrait by Van Eyck, painted in 1434 (!)? I hope I look that good when I'm 580 years old.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Marshland (Summer) - oil on panel, 9x12 inches

Marshland (Summer)
9x12 inches, oil on panel
Click here to purchase

I painted from this spot earlier this year, in the Spring (see that painting here). As you can tell, things have really greened up since then.

Dealing with an overly-green landscape is tough. I looked around to include anything that was not green. In this case it was the sort of purplish-gray reeds in the right middle ground, and the tree on the left of the same color (they're not showing up very well in the photo of the painting, sigh). And it  also helps to respect all the subtleties of different greens out there as much as you can. I think I had about 7 different green mixes going on my palette.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

End of the Trail - oil on panel, 11x14 inches

End of the Trail
11x14 inches, oil on panel
My turpentine/oil/varnish-based painting medium attracted a lot of bees the day I painted this. I think they like the sweet, pine smell of the turpentine. I like it too when I'm outside, but it's too fumey for me to use indoors. Bees swarming around your head while you paint isn't ideal either...
Gamblin's Galkyd is nice, but it is too thick right out of the bottle for my liking, so I have to dilute it by about 1/3 with OMS. Another issue is that it doesn't dry as glossy as the turps/varnish/oil medium. Galkyd Lite is a good viscosity but it dries matte. They both tack up on the palette a little too fast when I use them outdoors.

I've also been experimenting with a 1:1 mix of OMS and cold-pressed linseed oil as a medium, which I dilute with more OMS in the lay-in stage, and use undiluted later on. It's very low viscosity and retains some gloss, plus has a reasonable dry time. I really like the smell of linseed oil too.