Friday, 28 January 2011

Nearly finished

Here is the more or less completed painting (of Fawley Oil Refinery, from the Solent). I think it's a little skewed - had trouble taking the photograph, and it looks as though the chimneys are leaning slightly leftwards; this is complicated by a rather interesting (I lead a dull life..) optical illusion: the faint beams of light give the impression of an even greater lean, in the photograph, which isn't in fact apparent in the painting.
Anyway - it would have been quicker to say I'm a rubbish photographer, I suppose...
As you can see, this is a combination of glazing in transparent colour over the original underpainting, plus some thicker, opaque paint in places. Once upon a time, most paintings were created this way (in oil; this of course is acrylic); then alla prima came in, where painters tried to create an instant impression by laying down solid blocks of colour. The latter approach tends to lead to a somewhat looser effect; its drawback is a loss of luminosity.
This isn't completely finished yet, just one or two touches to add - but they'll be more obvious to me than anyone else, so - this is about it. Not on my website yet, but there are one or two changes there ( on the Buy page.

Saturday, 22 January 2011


Happy New Year, all... I've been very lazy over Christmas/New Year, but have been (by my standards) hyperactive in the new year. I decided to try another attempt at acrylic underpainting, glazing colour on top. This is the underpainting, I'll post the finished painting in a day or two - what I've done here is to do the painting in very basic colours, in this case burnt sienna, white, and a touch of French Ultramarine.
It's not a bad way to start any painting, especially in acrylic; just lay in the basic drawing and colours, and then add more colour in glazes, ie thin transparent veils of colour over the base. This is how I started, from a basic drawing - took a few minutes, then left to dry. You can do this in oil, it just takes a bit longer to dry.
You can adjust the painting as you go along, so you're not bound by the initial image; but it's helpful and quite satisfying if you can just lay it down, and then float the colour on top. My first drawing/painting was quite fussy, so I simplified it later on.
I shall post the finished painting, plus a snow scene; the usual approach to the latter is that you lay down the white of the snow, then add shadow in shades of (usually) cerulean/coeruleum; however, I first of all laid down an imprimatura (ie, base coat) of Prussian Blue, and indicated the snow on top: I think that tends to work better than laying in the delicate shadows and shapes later. But - you can see what you think in a day or three, when I add the snow painting.
In the meantime - here's my underpainting for the Fawley oil refinery.
I've been painting in oil for a while now, but have taken a diversion into acrylic - whether it's best to stick to one medium or to diversify, I don't really know; but I so enjoy painting in oil, watercolour and acylic that I should hate to choose between them: they all offer something different.
The glazing technique in oil is an ancient one, but strangely it's particularly relevant to the modern medium of acrylic. Try it - paint your first idea in monochrome, then add glazing in colour: your paintings will certainly look different to the 'alla prima' approach, in which thick opaque colour tells the whole story: glazing can add subtlety and a degree of luminescence. It may not be a technique you wish to employ with every painting, but, when skillfully employed, it can impart a stained glass appeal to your paintings.