Thursday, January 19, 2017

Painting techniques #2

In my previous blog entry I mentioned two painting techniques I often use (glazing and impasto). This time I want to talk about two other techniques: one gave it's name to a late nineteenth century art school (Pointillism), the other is about making smooth transitions. I used both techniques in 'Evening Clouds over the Ocean'.

Evening Clouds over the Ocean, oil on panel, 47.2" x 63"

The below detail is part of the ocean, just left of the center. It's about 3.5" x 2.5". As you can see I painted a lot (a lot) of dots on top of a purple-ish ground layer. This is not according to the rules of the French Pointillists, who covered their entire painting with dots. The similarity is what is called 'optical mixing'. It means that, seen from a distance, your eyes mix the dots to a single color. The result is a vibrant surface. You'll never get this kind of surface when you mix the color on your pallet. I use it mostly when I paint the ocean to suggest the movement of the water at mid-distance. In my Painting Reflections tutorial you can see an example.

The realism of my work is for the greatest part the result of smooth transitions. Even in the above detail you can see I painted the dots on top of such a transition. The color of the sky is another example. From the left to the right it slowly changes from almost yellow to a dark blue. To achieve this I use a technique called stippling and a badger hair fan brush. In my Painting Clouds video I show how I do it.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Painting techniques

Just like most painters I don't use just one single painting technique. Depending on what I want to paint I choose the technique that will get me there. Let me tell you a few things about two of them: glazing and impasto.
Glazing is an age old technique, dating back to the 15th century. You apply thin, transparent layers on top of each other. Impasto is at the oppsosite side of the what-can-you-do-with-paint scale. You paint in thick, opaque layers that almost seem to come out of the canvas. Where as glazing tries to avoid texture, impasto is all about texture. In my painting 'Neap Tide' I used them both.

Neap Tide, oils on panel, 30 x 90 cm
In the lower part of the painting glazing was the  dominant technique. On a dry bottom layer of dark blue I painted an even darker blue, a mix of indigo, Prussian blue and sepia. This mix was extremely thinned down with Liquin Light Gel, so the first layer was still shining through. With a cloth I then 'drew' the shapes of the small waves in the foreground by removing the dark glaze. By doing so the first blue layer became visible again.
The next day I painted a mix of transparent white, ultramarine and sepia on top of the glaze, to soften the contrast between the bottom layer and
the glaze.

So, if you want to preserve your bottom layer but give it a different hue or partly place it in the shadow, glazing is a great option. You'll be surprised by the results.

The sparkles at the horizon make up the lightest part of the painting. Here I used impasto. As you can see there's a fine texture formed by an awful lot of dots, each individual dot painted with a very fine brush. Here I used less Liquin to prevent the dots from flowing out into the background. Every dot has to stand out from the surface.That's important, because I want it to catch as much light as possible. The combination of the color (titanium white, vermillion red) and the 3D texture of the dots results in a surface that reflects a lot of light, which hopefully leads to the suggestion of sparkles on the water.

If you want to find out more, please go to In the meantime, if you have questions I might be able to answer, please let me know!