Listen to the road

Monday, February 17, 2014

The awkward stage

I've read several places that in almost every painting you reach an
awkward stage. This is when values are put down generally and you haven't put in much detail.
It's that stage where we get disappointed and 'stuck'.

At this point it's easy to be discouraged. Instead of giving up I concentrate on
some part of the dog that shows her personality. In this case, the eyes.

These 'folk dog' studies are helping me gain experience with oils. Each day I study
for an hour or so before painting. It really is wonderful how much is out there in the
library and online. I never studied oils in college so am a beginner here.

When the animal this elegant she seems impossible to paint. But
by layering and glazing I can add detail a bit at a time...layers of personality.
Here I concentrated on the slope of her forehead and the tufts
at her ear and this gave me enough confidence to go on to modeling.

Sometimes the value study takes over and I can't see the forest for the trees. On this guy
I was happy to have 'gotten' the eyes early on. Seems I need some small success to continue and with
my skills at this point I usually just need to put it aside for awhile.

Then I can come back and see beyond the awkward stage. One author says that painting is
somewhere between drawing and sculpture. This is helpful for me to keep in mind.
If the painting isn't working I look for ways to un-flatten the surface. I think the white under
his chin was helpful in modeling. I need to practice with spheres and boxes and
light sources. 
Opie, resident critic and reminder to go outside frequently.

Monday, February 10, 2014

More learning

Still learning, practicing and having fun painting dogs in oils.
Recently, a dental emergency has changed my priorities so I can't take an online course I'd planned to. But time online has been educational with utube tutorials, etc. Free is good for now. I'd like to share some of the most helpful information I've learned in case anyone reading 
here is considering oil as a medium.


I've tried several brands of mid range quality oil paints and Gamblin has the most consistent
creamy quality and color intensity so far. This is what goes on my palette every time;

portland cool grey, flake white replacement, warm white, brown pink, indian yellow, 
trans earth orange, asphaltum and black spinel.

 I have others, many shades of browns, blacks, greys
and earth colors to mix.

 I prefer flake white replacement to titanium white for
most blending. Titanium white is what I like to use for the final layer when I need an
opaque white that sparkles even in a small dab. 

I've also discovered Radiant White,
which has some sort of reflective substance mixed in it. If used in the first layers it reflects
light thru the top layers in a wonderful way. A little goes a long way, tho.

This solvent was sent in an order to try (no charge) and I used it in on several backgrounds
before experimenting first (bad idea). The paint is still tacky after almost 2 weeks.
Something in this solvent slows drying time drastically. I'll keep that in mind when
I need that quality. But right now, working in layers, it isn't helpful.

This medium, Liquin, from Winsor Newton is exactly what I needed to
speed up drying time between layers. I use it in 30/70 (Liquin/paint) ratio and 
drying time is cut by at least half! No differences in color intensity/saturation 
until more than 30% Liquin is added to the mix.

Now I can add layers that don't build up so thick and are slow to dry.
 I can add small dabs of color to build expression and work
on that area again in only one day. 

I'd like to recommend an online book with lots
It concentrates on Winsor Newton products but for a beginner like me
it's a PDF file full of great information...and free!

I found this book, Shelter Dogs, by Traer Scott in our library. The photographer/
author responded to my email about permission to use some of her photos
for my 'dog folk' studies. 

She kindly gave permission and this project is going forward with a
life of it's own. I sell my work in Plantiques in Newport News, Va . 

A portion of the sale of any of these
will be donated to the Animal Aid Center in Hampton, VA,
a no-kill shelter (google it to see the great dogs living there).

Still making notes to share as I continue to learn oils.