I thought I should move all this over to this section, as it seemed appropriate.
I posted a painting that is all oil (almost all) in the it's finally finished section.
I will start off be saying that it is more your mental approach to the task than the technique involved. Technique is a tool in your arsenal not the art itself. With that said you need technique just to pick up and use a brush. How will you hold it for different marks, how much paint to put on it, clean the brush don?t clean the brush, different brushes for different color temperatures and value? And this is just one small part of the spectrum of technique it grows exponentially from here. Let me also say that this also goes for the work in the computer. Digital work is an interpretation of the same analog processes at least when in the painter programs. Your mental, emotional approach is what involves you with the process and makes the initial spark become the bonfire you want people to gather around. But also notice it is your emotional spark and thus part of you. You will be exposing part of yourself in this process and when people don not like what you do it can hurt, allot! But when they do like what you do it becomes all the more special. In the end make sure YOU like what you do.
I am much more of a traditional artist than a digital artist. I like to have something left around to gather dust or pick up and hold after not looking at it for awhile. You can of course do this with a print but there is something so direct in seeing paint on the canvas kind of like an archaeologist sees his site. You can try and recreate the process of someone else?s painting revel in the texture, recall your own moments in your paintings.
I STILL USE THE COMPUTER, ALLOT! I find the computer can free up my inhibitions and pacify my raging doubts. It is easier to fix mistakes, thus easier to make challenging new choices. I try to bring this mentality back into my analog work.
Oils, I like to paint with oils! I am thinking of getting in some time with gauche but for know I use what I know (see I have to listen to my own words and venture forth a little).
I like flats or brights. Mostly I use synthetic brushes. Sometimes when working larger and on canvas I will use bristles. This does not mean that you can not use bristles on a 2 by 3 inch piece of illustration board (hmmm, that might be cool). Use large brushes! You should be able to make a whole painting with a large brush. Just learn how to make the brush do what it does naturally, push pull, vary pressure on the stoke and the edges, use the side and tip. One brush can make an incredible amount of interesting marks.
I use 50% turpinoid and 50% cold pressed linseed oil, simple and a nice flow. I use a drier to speed up curing time. Mostly I use cobalt drier. BE CAREFUL, THIS IS EXTREMELY TOXIC! DO NOT LEAVE THE LID OFF OR GET ON SKIN ETCETERA! You need only a little bit of this to do the job. I put this concoction in a smallish glass jar and make sure you have a lid or it will dry on the surface (though it makes a rather interesting yet disgusting fake skin look).
Clean your brushes, they are your friends!
I have another jar of straight turpinoid to clean my brushes, after getting them pretty clean there I take them to the sink and use a bar of soap to get them the rest of the way clean and the rest of the turp out (turps will kill your brushes)
During the painting process try and wipe your brushes clean and not use the turpinoid, if you need a perfectly clean brush for a new color etc. get a new brush.
How to start painting? There are so many ways to paint and none of them are right or wrong. It may be what suites your temperament best or what kind of painting it is, or the surface you are painting on.
Classically speaking, you can find many books that will lay it out for you better than I so I will just try and tell you some of my own preferences.
I prefer to paint large, somewhere around 30" by 40", sometimes smaller, sometime larger. Painting large reduces the amplitude of mistakes or shaky marks. This is because of scale and also because you will be using more of you body to make a mark rather than your wrist and worse in some cases just your fingers. But just let me say once again no way is wrong. my wife paints incredibly detailed layered paintings with acrylics. She uses tiny rounds and crosshatches colors until they build to the desired state. TIME CONSUMING BUT BEAUTIFUL RESULTS! I, on the other hand, like to try and get two or three things done with one bush stroke.
I will paint on canvas, masonite, illustration board (sealed so the oils do not soak in) and paper (also sealed), some times I paint over a print out of my sketch that has been worked on for a bit in the computer. But I don?t like to do it this way as I feel it is just filling in between the lines and not painting. Why not just finish it in the computer in that case.
I have an opaque projector that I use to project the sketch onto the working surface. My personal preference is to put in the bare minimum of landmarks. Just enough to get the composition correct and the anatomy in the proportions I want. Norman Rockwell put everything in during his trace step, but it just kills it for me. I need to be able to find new thing in the paint and not just copy myself. Back to the transfer. Usually I just mark the canvas with pencil, sometimes oil and brush. I will then seal it with workable fixative or crystal clear so that I do not lose whatever landmarks I chose to establish.
Off to paint! I start out with a very limited palette, raw umber, pthalo blue, yellow ochre, black and white. I learned this from Rick berry. Raw umber in comparison to pthalo blue is quite warm (even though being one of the cooler earth tones), when you mix these two you can achieve a nice range of color from cool to warm. I use this to start out because it has enough push and pull with the temperature to enable you to add more color later.
Later I will add a little yellow ochre to further warm some of my values. But the main reason I like to start with this limited palette is that I can concentrate on shape, value and edges with out getting to confused by color. Some people have no problem using color from the get go, but I usually just get lost and frustrated.
Another point to make about this palette is that it makes what most would consider muddy color. But color is relative and no color is really muddy, it just appears so because of its surrounding color relationships. What I am getting at here is that I paint with this non-traditional palette that may sound ugly but all the colors relate and thus are not muddy.
Even Later I will add a red oxide, manganese blue, cadmium red medium, alizarin crimson, maybe some different yellows etc,.
A good way to start for me has been to lay in all the dark values. The cast shadows and unlit areas of objects. This helps me see the shapes better and get a feel for the painting from the start. After the darks are in I paint in the mid tones. At this stage I start paint wet into wet, working the whole value range.
A good book to read for oil painting is "Oil Painting Secrets From A Master" by Linda Cateura. It is on artist David a. Leffel?s technique and philosophy. Published by Watson-Guptill.
Often I put a wash of raw umber and pthalo blue down and start to pull paint back off with a brush, rag, palette knife etc,. Often I just start painting into the wash with white or mix values with white and start painting wet into wet. When I don?t like what I did I wipe it out and try again. Sargent was notorious for scraping down sections of a painting. If it just was not right he would wipe it away and paint it again. Never be just satisfied, make it right, (note to self, listen to self about this). This will dry a little in a couple of hours and I will put down some more medium or a glaze like mix to work into yet again. I will go back and forth refining things in this way, slowly adding more color and value range or just repainting areas.
Through all this I am concentrating on the marks the brush is making, the edges the value plays. The feel of spontaneity.
On other occasions I have started with just a face or arm. Often I feel overwhelmed by the canvas so I pick a small area that I find interesting and start painting there. I let things grow out from that point usually getting broader in scope as the process moves along. Many will tell you this is not a good way to paint, as you do not develop the canvas as a whole. The problem can arise when areas do not relate as well to each other because they were painted at different times with different intensities or without any consideration of the adjoining area. Just keep this in mind.
I like to have a week to work on an oil painting. Sometimes I get one done in a couple of days. Some people always get them done in a day. I wish I could figure out how to do this. But I have a sneaking feeling it has to do with their incredible facility with the brush.
If there are more specific question please ask. I get a little overwhelmed by the amount of information that can be shared and I?m sure I have just glazed over many important points.
thank you very much for sharing
it's incredible... a lot of talking about color theory, space, shape, form, composition and and and is going on here but how comes no one has actually touched the very subject of _painting_ i.e. putting paint on the canvas?
this is a very good read! i'll start tomorrow after work to cramp a few small doodles out in your palette.
i am just starting to paint traditionally (i came from drawing -> digital drawing -> digital painting -> now going back to traditional drawing and trying to learn traditional painting - prolly the worst way to choose )
i bought a bunch of acrylics and just had some fun with it. i still am in the struggle of the pure technical side of painting but it is a damn lot of fun.
what you write here is very very useful for me even if it won't work for me, i know an approach from that i can develop into something more comfortable.
what's your work with the palette like?
do oyu lay down several huge splotches of basic colors (ochre, blue, black, white, yellow ochre) and mix color for every time you put your brush to the canvas, dou you make a set spectrum of already mixed blotches to work from (like 3 or 4 different mixtures of blue and ochre)? or something completely different?
this is an important thing to know for someone who is used to take color from a color wheel
thanks in advance
Ok I was thinking and I came up with a few questions. I know nothing about painting really... Ive played with gouche and done comic style coloring on the computer and thats it for color. Ill save my major questions for a book read but...
1. With the oils you said you could wipe a section out that you dont like. Would this wipe out all the way to the canvas or just whats wet? SO you could have painted one layer the day before and started painting over that. Then you wipe off what you dont like and you would still have the layer from the day before?
2. Does oil paints go far? Like will you go through a half of a tube on one painting? DO they last long is what i'm trying to say.
3. last one How do you get a scan into the computer of your large paintings? Digital Picture or do you scan in sections?
Thanks for taking the time to write this stuff down Jon. It's always great to see how another artist works; especially one whose work I keep track of. I'll have to experiment with something like your tonal layout palette - I like the warm/cool aspect; though I've mostly gotten away from the earth pigments. Good too to see another artist recommending big brushes, good advice; brights happen to be my favorites for both oil and acrylic.
The "dialog" you have with the painting reminds me a lot of how Jeffrey Jones (among others) describes painting. It can be a really wonderful experience once you've built up the visual "vocabulary" you've mentioned. Is there an influence from Jeffrey in your work or just coincidence?
oops...just noticed the link to Jeffrey's site on your web-page.
ya, I guess I shoulda noticed it before...
You mention Leffel. Good book. If you ever have a chance to take a workshop with him it's very worthwhile. He still gets to the Scottsdale Artists School in Arizona almost evey year...nice place for a winter workshop too.
Last edited by prismacolor; September 16th, 2002 at 02:03 AM.
Gekitsu, I mix large amounts of paint with a palette knife. My palette is a piece of glass sitting on top of a stiff wood board the same size, and that sits on a table next to me. I also use the palette knife to paint with at times. It creates a whole new texture and surface with the paint, something hard to replicate with the brush. It?s also easier to clean! But I would say that I use it infrequently in comparison to brushes.
I do put out the colors I use in rather large piles. Don?t skimp on paint! I mix colors for large areas and just the mid tones. Later I can mix colors into the mid tone for variations. Sometimes I mix a set of values with my base neutral color. This can be very helpful.
Most importantly I should say that I kind of sneak up on my colors, adding them as I go along in the process. I am not very good at mixing color prior or even during a painting. This is a shortcoming that I have learned to work around.
Nick, when I start and lay down some passages of paint and then decide it is not right I can wipe it back to the white if I want. This will (depending on the medium you use) be able to be accomplished for up to12 hours or sometimes a couple of days. But this as I said varies with medium and the kind of paint you put down. Some paints dry very quickly while others seem to take forever. After the paint dries or sets, it is more difficult to remove. This is good! Now we can paint on top of what we did and not worry about loosing some good work underneath. A little like the undo button.
I do not usually go through half a tube of any color in a painting, but it is possible and I have done so. Don?t skimp on paint. You will be missing the whole point of why you are painting with oils in the first place. Find student grade paints for now. they should be fine until you get more of a feel for it.
I used to scan my painting (once they were dry) piece by piece on my flatbed scanner. Now I take two digital picture of the painting with my Nikon 990. One of the top, one of the bottom and of course I give myself some overlap. This gives me enough information to get the job done but still is lacking in quality. Maybe someday I will get one of the new 5-7 mega pixel cameras. I merge the two files together in photo shop. Usually this initials some color and level finagling.
Morphine, some day I will get brave enough to take pictures of me while painting or rather of the canvas. I love to see this kind of thing as well. I hope to do it soon, but want to make sure I do a good and thorough job.
Thanks every one for reading all of that dry stuff. I hope it will help.
it helped a lot. i've been afraid of painting for quite some time. this takes some of the mystery out of it. i think i'll start with acrylics and move into oil once i gain more confidence. thank you for this.
thank you very much, mr foster, for answering my question
i'm completely with motorowl. currently, i'm searching for as much advice and tips as possible for painting.
don seegmiller also had a few useful when i asked him for some acrylics tips. one of them is:
"move to oils as soon as possible, it's much more easier to paint with"
I don't want to jump on foster's thread, 'cause this is really solid advice...but I have to say some words of encouragement -- there's no reason to stay away from oils. Jump right in and squish some paint around! Why not start with the water-soluble oils tho', and make things easier on yourself to start with. You use them the same as regular oils, but things clean up with soap and water. Winsor and Newton make a very good brand called Artisan...don't know if Schminke makes any in Germany, but I'm sure they'd be excellent if they do. Also, use the special "mediums" that are made for this paint; water is for clean-up only, not for use like turps or mineral spirits. Get some heavy illustration board and cover it with several coats of gesso (always use the professional grade of gesso - it's thicker and you'll use less, even tho' it's a bit more expensive). This will be your cheap "canvas" for learning. There's plenty of artists that use illustration board for final pieces, there's nothing that says you have to use canvas - esp. expensive linen.
I think there's two basic reasons why oils are often said to be easier than acrylics: the typically fast acrylic dry-time means you have to mix your colors faster, and secondly, acrylics dry a little to a lot darker than the wet colors you put down. Neither of those problems are generally true with oils. There's a couple of things you can do with acrylics to work around those two shortcomings. First get a "sta-wet" palette or make your own (wet paper towels under a sheet of high quality drafting vellum). This will give you a longer "open" time on the paint. Secondly, use a fine-mist spray bottle to "mist" your canvas and keep the paint and canvas damp from time to time, (spray from side, across the canvas, not direct). Other than that, if you put down a "wrong" color - just wait a few minutes until the acrylics dry, then paint over it with the "right" color (can't do that in oils without using liquin...heheh) The best acrylics currently on the market to minimize color-change wet to dry are PEBEO brand, they use a clearer resin instead of the standard "milky" type.
I have some notes for oils and acrylics on my site in the workshop section - but it's very basic stuff...I think it's similar/complimentary to what Jon has said here, so it might dovetail and be of some small help. The only other thing I'll say is to start out with a limited palette... a yellow, a blue, a red, white. After awhile add a "blue" black - with some manufacturers this will be "ivory" black and with others this will be "mars" black. I generally prefer to use a Pthalo Green instead of black...but that's just my impressionist upbringing. Nothing bad will happen if you use black Don Seegmiller has some excellent comments on this -- if not on his site then it will be in the sijun.com archives if you do a search.
I'd like to try out your pallette of raw umber, pthalo blue, yellow ochre, black and white in painter. After looking around for approximate CMYK or RGB values for those colors, I found this site: http://www.goldenpaints.com/color.htm. They have rgb swatches for each color, but there are two Phthalo Blues (one's more green, ones more red):
Not that they are enormously different, but which blue is closer to what you use?