Monday, September 27, 2010

Knife Painting

Well, I had great fun at the Marie Green oil painting workshop I attended yesterday! We had just started painting the still life when Marie began to observe me, and after a moment suggested that I try the subject using only a painting knife, and not my brushes - she said it would be a good challenge for me.

I had never done a knife painting before. I have used the knife here and there, but for the first time I painted everything with the knife and learned a heck of a lot. The painting is not great, but given that I only used four tubes of paint and one knife, I think it's OK.

Fish and Fruit 
Oil on paper, 11 x 14"

Friday, September 24, 2010

Preparing Panels - Take 2

I sealed the last of my masonite panels today - I prepped eighteen in total. Half are quite small at ~6x8 or so, while the rest are assorted larger sizes. The first coat of gesso is on, and drying, so I should be able to do a second coat this evening. The good thing about preparing a large batch of panels is that by the time I finished applying a thin coat of gesso to the eighteenth panel, the first panel was nearly dry.

I have three new jars of Art Spectrum Colourfix Primer to try out - I ended up buying Rose Grey, Soft Umber and Raw Sienna. The Raw Sienna is especially beautiful!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fourth WIP

None of my paintings were dry enough to go on with in class tonight, so I started another Huang copy.  This time it is Moon with Clouds.  Here are the first layers:

 Oil on panel, 6.5 x 9"

For me, the most educational aspect of these studies is value and colour mixing.  I often work with a very large palette, but completing these studies has seen me work with only four or five paints.

Two paints which I have been enjoying today are Michael Harding's Unbleached Titanium Dioxide and Maimeri's D'Italia Green Earth from Verona.

Oils in Progress

I started two oil paintings on the weekend, and then began a third last night. The first WIP (work in progress) is a copy of Huang's A Pair of Pears. I have blocked in the lights and darks, but still need to add some interest to the background and shadows, and define the fruit further.

Oil on board, 6 x 8"

The second WIP is a copy of a soft pastel painting I found online some time ago.  I have no idea who the artist is - the image is one of hundreds of references files I have saved on my computer.  If you are the artist, or know the artist, please contact me.

This was a particularly interesting painting to copy because of the delicate yet effective shadow colours. The vibrant background just sings, but because I used Cadmium Orange, I'm still waiting for it to dry three days later.

Oil on panel, 6.5 x 9"

The third WIP is a copy of another unknown pastel painting. If you are the artist, or know the artist, please contact me.

This is the least complete of the three paintings I am working on, and is a more complex subject than the previous two paintings. I am enjoying this one immensely. It is an excellent study in colour and value.

Oil on panel, 6.5 x 9"

Hopefully I'll make some good progress on these tonight in class.

Currently I am the only person working in oils in my weekly art class.  We all tend to work independently on our own projects, with the instructor visiting us throughout the lesson to assist and answer questions.  Since I have begun painting with oils in class (something I do on and off during the year), the medium has gathered a lot of interest in our group. (We are mostly a group of watercolour and mixed media artists.) There is a one-day oil painting workshop coming up this weekend, so I hope to encounter a few local oil painters to talk with, and maybe find someone willing to join me on plein air trips. :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Preparing Panels

Today I prepared a batch of small masonite panels for my oil painting.  The masonite is a little thicker than I like at about 6mm, but at least I won't have to worry about it warping.  I sealed the panels, and then brushed 3 coats of gesso on to all sides and edges.  Later, I used a roller to apply some thinned Art Spectrum Colourfix Primer to some of the panels.  From AS:
"Art Spectrum Colourfix™ Primer is a fine tooth, quick drying acrylic primer which bonds aggressively to practically any clean, dry surface - all types of papers (300 gsm or heavier recommended), canvas, card, ply, plastic, glass, timber, ceramic and metal. Art Spectrum Colourfix™ Primer can be applied with brushes, sponges, rollers etc."
Primarily used as a fine tooth surface for pastelists, Colourfix Primer is actually a multimedia product.  It can be used as a base for pastel, cont√©, acrylic, or oil.

I'm very happy with the Colourfix Primer painting surface.  Thinned down with a little water, it dried to a beautifully fine tooth, and then I lightly sanded the surface with some 600 grit sandpaper just before painting.  This has produced a perfect painting surface for me so far.

The Colourfix Primer doesn't need to be thinned, but the more you thin it, the smoother it applies.  Visible roller patterns and brush strokes will be visible if you use it straight. This can always be sanded down, but I prefer thinner coats.

Because I have sanded the Colourfix surface, I don't feel the surface tooth will be damaging to my brushes.  So far I have tried Rich Beige and Storm Blue Colourfix, and I plan to try Raw Sienna, Soft Umber and Terra Cotta next.

Art Spectrum Colourfix Primer - 250ml (~$14AU)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Copying Huang

I have been following Qiang Huang's painting blog for some time now. His expressive brush strokes and strong colour contrasts are something I would love to be able to achieve. My own oil paintings of late have been improving, but I seem to have a fear of bold colour (which is something I struggle with in my watercolours, too).

This week I selected two paintings from Huang's blog and was determined to copy them. It was difficult, but I persevered and am happy with the result. I learnt a lot about colour and value, but especially colour! The colours I was mixing initially were nowhere near as strong as they needed to be. Completing this colour study exercise was very rewarding and enlightening. You can see my efforts and their details below.

After Huang's Warm Up:

Oil on board, 6x8

After Huang's Vibrant:

Oil on board, 6x8

There are a few problems with my paintings, but overall they work.  One paint I found particularly nice during this exercise was Michael Harding's Lemon Yellow. I never thought I would come to love the Lemon Yellow as much as I have - it's a wonderfully useful paint! :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Introducing Alexander

Alexander will be two months old at the end of this week. :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Some abstract monoprints from tonight's class, printed on vintage Grumbacher paper (click an individual print to enlarge):


Monday, September 6, 2010


This morning while watering the garden I came across a cute crop of little yellow mushrooms!

The mushrooms are Leucocoprinus birnbaumii or the more pronounceable "Yellow parasol". :)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Pigments and Palettes

Later this month I'm attending a one-day oil painting workshop given by a local artist.  It's a beginner's class, but I'll take anything to do with oil painting right now. (I'm finding it is the most convenient medium for me to work with now that I am home with my first baby - I can come back to a piece hours later and just pick up where I left off.)

The workshop will be focused around creating paintings with a limited "primary triad" palette consisting of only cyan, magenta, and yellow.  The instructor has recommended the following (Art Spectrum brand):
  • Cadmium Yellow (PY35)
  • Permanent Magenta (PV19, PV23)
  • Phthalo Blue (PB15:3, PW21)
I will be using my M. Graham & Co. paints, plus Michael Harding's Magenta - PR122 is too much of a glorious pigment to go unused. :)