I attended an interesting life drawing session on Saturday. But before I blog about that… my oil class finished on Thursday.
Here is my painting of Loch Lomond here in Scotland:
In this last class, I smoothed out the lake and made it lighter. In the earlier stages of the work, there was a more pronounced difference between the nearer water – the lower 60% of the lake area – and the further water. This was an attempt to capture a visible difference in the water tone. In this class I was able to make the difference in water more subtle and natural looking. Instead of 2 strips, there are now 4, with more common tones shared between them.
In the last 10 minutes of the class, I added the final details: a boat and a row of sitting birds. I didn’t have time to add the remains of the old pier that are visible in the earlier stages of the work.
These details are great value. For 10 minutes work, despite their crudeness, the details enhance the picture by at least 20% in my opinion. I like details.
I will probably leave the painting as it is, but as oil work I could always come back to it later if I wanted. I may wish to restore some of the shared colours between the lake and the sky, which I lost in this last session, or add those missing pier details.
I will leave you with a reminder of how the painting looked at the start. It has been an enjoyable process working on this, and I’m pleased with the result of my first oil painting.
In this week’s session I continued working on the lake section of the painting.
Last week, I commented that the water was too dark. This week I successfully lightened the water, and managed to get a reasonable approximation of the colours of the source image.
The colour matching took a fair amount of tweaking of the colours following this process:
- mix some paint
- apply it to areas of the picture
- stand back and assess the result
- throw in some other colours into the paint mix
- apply that to some or all of the area
- re-assess and repeat
Every week I’ve felt I’m getting the hang of oil painting more, and this week was no exception.
Next week’s lesson will be the last. I don’t know if I’ll try and refine the water surface further, or add the details I removed last week.
In the previous lesson I followed tutor Maggie’s direction to apply lines and spots to the lake area to create the water texture. At the start of this lesson however, she instructed me to paint over it. Totally. The previous lesson’s lines and spots are gone. The remains of the pier are gone. So too is the boat and its occupants.
I’ve been consistently advised over the weeks to apply lots more paint than I was doing – that the key is to have many layers of paint. This is foreign to me from my watercolour experience, but I threw myself into it in this lesson. If I was going to obliterate my previous brush stokes, I was going to do it fully!
First I applied a rich dark layer of paint after I had mixed a reasonable colour. Then I added a bit of light to the paint and scattered it around in another layer. And then more light, laying in yet more paint into the still wet lower layers.
The result has a pleasing glassiness effect to it, just as you’d expect to find in still water (which this isn’t). It is currently far too dark, and in the next lesson I expect I’ll be lightening it further and trying to add some disturbance to the lake surface.
After working on the sky, mountains and woodland, I have now worked on the lake. This covers all the areas of the painting since the original base layer was put down.
For the water, I took some time to try and find a mix of paint that approximated the desired tone when it was applied over the existing base. Unfortunately I was unable to achieve the desired colour which was slightly pinker.
To create the water texture, I used spots or very short strokes in the foreground, and horizontal lines in the background. The current result is quite crude as it stands, but I hope to work on this further next week.
To introduce cohesion in the image, I also applied the same paint to the clouds and to the mountains because the lake is reflecting the light from those elements.
Unintentionally I had lots of practice removing my mistakes this week.
I applied too bright a blue to the mountain in an effort to make it darker in parts. I applied too much green to the foreground tree area on the right. I applied too thick yellow to the top-most lake area.
Fortunately I was able to rectify most of these mistakes. With oil, it is possible to lift fresh paint off the surface without too much difficulty. This was my first experience of doing so.
After 3 mistakes and 3 corrective actions in rapid succession, I have learnt that I do not need to be so timid in applying paint in the first place. However, I still need to use some caution as the remains of my last mistake on the lake area is still clearly visible.
I have finally got more comfortable handling oil paint. Instead of just mixing my colour and laying it on, I have now been dabbing relatively dry touches on top of the base layer, and using a broader dry brush to scatter the paint around a bit.
Using this technique I created blue, green and orange areas in the mountains in my painting above. This was closer to the amount of control I had in my pastel drawings, where I was able to shape mountains by carving out areas of light and dark. I will work on the mountains again to give them more depth now that I know what I’m doing.
Since my last post I’ve had 2 more lessons to work on my oil painting. The above is the current state.
I strengthened the lake to have a thicker layer of oil as the previous attempt was a bit weak with the canvas showing through in places. In the future I will overlay this with lighter paint, and add highlights to show the water.
Most of the work done has been in the sky. The upper section has been made darker, and the lower section lighter. Both sections have had some texture applied to them to give the impression of cloud layers.
There is still much work to do.