30 October 2012

Yes, it's been a long time since I posted. I did have some commissions that I haven't posted because they are similar to others that I have posted before (lemons are still very popular ;-).
I should have three or four others finished shortly so I hope to post them soon.

I had meant to try a grey under painting (grisaille) for a long time so I thought I'd share how I went about it with this little study (I did the grisaille in acrylic). I can't really say if it improved my work flow but it did help to get the form blocked in a lot quicker (I'm a slow worker so it was never going to really speed me up, which is what I'd like ideally!).

The left half has been 'oiled out'. This is where you paint a very thin coat of medium over the painting the next day to bring the colours back to how they looked when you first painted them (they can dry dull, chalkly and lifeless - as you can see on the right). It's great to work into this wet layer too and it helps to blend it with the layer below.

Oil on 9 x 7 inch hardboard

I have been included on this Facebook page with some very illustrious company so please 'like' the page if you visit it (scroll down to see my peeled tangerine): http://www.facebook.com/WorldClassPainters

I hope I can get the new stuff to you ASAP .... please don't give up on me, I know I'm hopeless at this ;-)

13 August 2012

Another Trompe

Oil on hardboard panel 12 x 9 inches

Following on with the 'trompe' theme, I thought I'd get some of the best silver out ...
I gave the panel four coats of acrylic gesso (lightly sanded between each layer) and a final coat of egg emulsion (1:1 egg yolk and water).
I may give the lemons a rest for a while. It may bring on a case of cold turkey but I'll try and resist ;-)

A few words about mediums: I hold my hands up to being a medium freak! I want to try every medium out there that I can get my hands on (some I can't get hold of because of shipping restrictions on flammable objects from the USA).

I have read every treatise on mediums that I can find and I do not seem to be alone in this (even Salvador Dali said he would give his left arm for the secret to Vermeer's medium). So you are not alone ........ yes, I mean you ;-)

I started, as a novice, with simple linseed oil but it dried too slow for me so I was recommended Winsor & Newton's Liquin Original which I have used for the bulk of my paintings. It usually dries over night (faster if the weather is warm) except for ivory black, titanium white and the cadmium yellows. The earth colours dry fastest. It's a good all round medium but I found it a bit too 'greasy' for wet in wet painting so I went on the hunt for the perfect all round medium (yes, it's a holy grail kind of thing and about as likely to be solved).

The next step was a mixture of stand oil and pure gum turpentine (1:1) and this was great for wet in wet and glazing but took too long to dry (I like to get painting the next day). So I started adding cobalt driers (a few drops with a pipette to each days medium) and that dried overnight. Unfortunately this makes the medium darker (you don't notice it when you mix it with the paint) and it also highly toxic and I am a terror for biting the ends of my brushes!!!!! 

Then I read about the 'magical' Maroger medium which was formulated by  Jacques Maroger who was a painter and the technical director of the Louvre Museum's laboratory in Paris. He reckoned that this was one of the 'lost' mediums used by the old masters (but there seem to be hundreds of variations of resins, oils, emulsions, etc. that the old masters used).
This, again, is highly toxic as it uses lead oxide as part of the base and making it yourself involves 'cooking' the ingredients (a recipe for disaster for someone like myself), so I decided to buy a ready made brand which I managed to get from the US at enormous cost (it's very expensive).
I couldn't wait to get my hands on it expecting wonderous results but was greatly disappointed when I found it not much better than Liquin (maybe it was the brand but at $45 for a 5oz tube - before post - I was expecting more).

Did I say 'a few words ...' way back there? I hope you're sitting comfortably!

I have tried walnut oil/Venetian turpentine/gum turpentine mixes (I even 'washed' and sun treated my walnut oil until it was a lot lighter than linseed oil), if it was good enough for DaVinci .......
This was a nice mix but slow drying (apparently walnut doesn't yellow as much as linseed) and sometime I had problems with 'beading' when glazing over areas that were heavy on white in the mix. It was also a little too shiny and enamel like after a few glazes.

James C. Groves makes some excellent traditional resin mediums/varnish that I liked and M.Graham's Walnut Alkyd Medium was also good but didn't dry fast enough for me.

At the moment I am using Gamblin's Galkyd Lite (tried their Galkyd and Neo Megilp but this is the one I prefer of the three). This painting was done with the Galky Lite.

I could waffle on about other mediums but I'll leave it here for now.

After word: This is purely about my experience with mediums for my painting style, some artists use no medium at all and I'm sure there are countless other variations for other painting styles.

16 July 2012

More fruit ...

8 x 8 inches oil on Blick Studio panel

Day two:
.... now where was I? .... ah, yes - painting surfaces .......
Right, off we go again: I tried Winsor & Newton oil priming on hardboard but it was very thick. ent on quite patchy and needed a lot of sanding to level it out and it still wasn't that great to paint on. At least the acrylic dries faster so I am back to that.
I give the hardboard one coat of acrylic size and four coats of gesso (sanded between each coat with 500 gauge paper) and a final coat of Liquin tinted with burnt umber or an opaque warm grey.

I think I'll prattle on about mediums in the next post (maybe tomorrow) as I have tried so many of them (almost an addict to buying any one I can get my hands on).

This tangerine is following on in the 'trompe' series. Unfortunately the photo looks rather flat but in real life the peel does appear to be coming out of the surface (yet another compromise .... photographs ;-).

... to be continued

15 July 2012

Lemons Trompe

15.5 x 12.5 inches oil on hardboard

Following on from my last post, I have continued the theme of 'trompe l'oeil' (fool the eye) and will have two more to post over the next few days.
They do take longer than the usual paintings because of the effect I am trying to achieve of making them look as though they are coming out of the surface.

detail - twice life size

I have gone back to using Liquin Original as my medium after some scary mishaps with experiments with traditional and modern varnish mediums. Last month I had to sand down (!) and wash two paintings with turps (very scary) to strip off the varnish. Luckily, all turned out well with only minor retouching ..... phew!!!!!

A lot of painting is a compromise for me:
I never seem to find the 'just right' surface to paint on, medium to paint with or brushes with the right feel. I keep experimenting but I usually have to settle on something I am not 100% happy with.
For anyone interested here are some examples:
Surfaces .... I have tried cotton, linen, ready gessoed panels of different kinds of board (oil primed and acrylic primed) and self primed hardboard (oil and acrylic). 
Firstly, I have always found acrylic gesso too absorbent and the surface doesn't become optimal for me until after at least four coats of underpainting when it becomes mostly non-absorbent and the colours don't 'sink in' (when the oil is absorbed from the new paint by the layer below leaving the new colours dull and chalky the next day - this is easily solved by 'oiling out'* though). Oiling out involves brushing (or in my case, using fingers) to put a very, very thin coat of medium over the dull areas. This is also great to paint into and helps with blending into the layer below. It is also sometimes referred to as a couche/couch (which means 'a coat/layer' in French: sous couche=under coat).

This looks like it is going to waffle on more that I though so I will continue it in the next post ;-)

......to be continued

29 May 2012

New paintings for sale

12 x 9 inches (15.5 x 12.5 inches framed)
SOLD to the Cooley Gallery USA

12 x 16 inches (15.5 x 19.5 inches framed)

12 x 9 inches (15.5 x 12.5 inches framed)

I thought that instead of posting these one at a time that I would just go the whole hog ;-)

I have decided to sell all my paintings framed from now on because I always worried about them being damaged in transit abroad and I know that the postal services don't particularly care about the 'fragile' stickers I place on the boxes! The frames should help protect the panels and the painted surface.
I think this moulding works well with the paintings so this is the frame I went with (made for me by my artist/teacher friend Ray).

Please feel free to contact me if you are at all interested :-) 

21 May 2012

Red Pears

12 x 9 : oil on Belgian linen panel
SOLD (framed ... see photo below)

I'm sure these pears have a name but I can't for the life of me remember what it is (it was there on the sign when I bought them but in my dotage it has totally slipped my mind).
It made a nice change to paint something red but always a new challenge when painting something totally new to you.
The pear on the right was painted in a very high key at first and then glazed many times to get it to recede into the background (the old master influence creeping in there).

More paintings to follow ..... I didn't post any new work recently because I just wasn't happy with a lot of the work I was doing but I am hoping that the new paintings I am doing will set me in the right direction again (to be posted in the following weeks ... hopefully).

2 April 2012

Sweet tooth

 12 x 9 inches, oil on Belgian lead primed linen panel.
These are my favourite biscuits for dunking in tea: McVities Digestives.
The problem is I usually go through half a pack in one sitting as I can't stop ..... 'just one more' never seems to work ;-) 
I love this Artfix L84C linen. 

30 March 2012

Time flies

12 x 9 inches, oil on hardboard panel

I can't believe it's been so long since my last post! 
For various reasons I haven't got a lot done in the last three months and some of the work I did I was so unhappy with I either painted over them or banned them to the dark recesses of the cupboard. It became that I couldn't finish a painting: they just dragged on and on and then I gave up on them.
I'm sure this happens to all artists at some point and we have to try and battle on but giving up is not an option.
I also couldn't think of any new ideas; it was quite a dark time ...... but I am fighting through it and am working on a few new ones that I hope will put me back on track (to be posted sooner rather than later ... I hope!).
This was a re-visit of a few of my favourite props and, unusually for me, cropped into the bargain.

I have been using Michael Harding Titanium White 2 recently and love it. It is made with linseed oil and dries faster than the Winsor and Newton I normally use which used to hold back any glazing I had to do over it. It also seems to avoid 'beading' when glazing over it which was another problem I had before.
I also use their Dammar Glaze Medium in preference to W&N Liquin now, it dries over night and has a nice tack for painting wet in wet where the Liquin feels more greasy and colours don't sit on top of each other so well.

I  have also been using Artfix L84C oil primed linen and highly recommend it. I has a wonderful surface to paint on and smooth enough for fine detail too. It just feels so good! BUT ........ it is very expensive!

I will post another painting within the next few days :-)