Saturday, January 29, 2011

Learning curve

Snow Shadows 6x6 oil, copyright 2011
Field of Snow 6x6 oil, copyright 2011

One of the good things about doing so many of these little paintings is that I am learning rather quckly what works and what doesn't work.  With these two there was a lot of the latter and a little bit of the former, particularly with the painting on the left.

With this one I decided to experiment a bit.  I've been coating the panels with a pastel primer, which is a clear acrylic base with very fine pumice mixed in.  I was curious what would happen if I didn't use the primer and just painted directly on the surface.  This is what happened:  the surface immediately soaked up all the oil from the paint, making it gum up and very difficult to move around.  This means I couldn't really blend the paint on the surface and if I messed with it too much it rolled into little balls.  No matter how many layers I put down, the effect was the same.  From now on I will always use a primer for oil paints on clayboard.

The second one turned out better since I did use the primer for it, along with a purple wash.  I also experimented a bit with a dry brush technique.  This works by using an essentially dry brush to blend the paint after it's laid down on the surface, for a softer look.  It can work well for backgrounds but if overused in the foreground it can make the image too fuzzy.  That was one thing that actually worked in this painting.   But while a large expanse of snow in the foreground and a straight horizontal line of trees in the background can make an interesting photograph, it can also make for a boring painting.

So now I know.


  1. It's really great that you are learning so much as you go along. It helps to be completely open to that learning - which you obviously are.

  2. I like the Field of Snow, not boring in my opinion, but atmospheric.

    Thanks for sharing your experiments.

  3. Thank you ladies! One of the other things that I am learning is that I can be my own worst critic! But I think that is very true for a lot of artists.