Broad Oak: your emotional support animal

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

ART: The use of paint in paintings, by JD

As a follow on from this recent post - http://theylaughedatnoah.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/three-art-teachers.html, a few thoughts on paints and painting.

This first painting is a copy of Goya's "El Quitasol" which I did more than thirty years ago. I used Winsor & Newton oil paints and, as you can see, the colours are clear and vibrant. It is about A4 size on canvas-textured paper suitable for oil painting. It has been stuck to the wall with blu-tack for the last twenty years!


This is the original by Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, in the Prado Museum in Madrid:


Prado weblink: https://www.museodelprado.es/coleccion/obra-de-arte/el-quitasol/a230a80f-a899-4535-9e90-ad883bd096c5?searchid=dceab6ec-cb0a-414b-dab7-1aa2e5143c1c


Wikipedia's copy: 


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Parasol#/media/File:El_Quitasol_(Goya).jpg

Obviously I am nowhere near as good as Goya but I am pleased with my effort and it is surprising how much you can learn just by copying one of the masters.

As stated previously, real life tends to get in the way and I was drawing and painting intermittently and then, with a bit more spare time, I was able to paint on a regular basis with some expert tutelage to help me along the way.

This time I was using watercolour paints and eventually settled on Van Gogh watercolours in tubes because, once again, it gave me the vibrant colours. (W/colour in tubes can also be applied more thickly, which I like to do now and then) Here's a sample. It is 8" x 6" - most watercolour paintings are small scale, I think the largest pads I have are 15" x 11". If you want to know how I did the highlights on these oranges, it was done with a few dabs of gouache which is basically opaque watercolour paint.



Eventually I started to use acrylic paints as well as continuing with the watercolours. Acrylic is like oil paint but with the pigment bound in plastic (polymer) instead of oil. The advantage is that it is quick drying and the brushes can easily be cleaned in water without too much effort. Quick drying is a disadvantage also in that any paint left on the palette dries and, unlike oils, cannot be revived.

But the colours of acrylic paint are very bright and their introduction commercially in the 1950s brought a lot of new colours including iridescent and pearl and interference colours made by adding powdered mica to create unusual shimmering or reflective visual effects. (In earlier times gold leaf would be used in painting religious icons which, in flickering candlelight, would have produced similar effects.)

I have used mainly Liquitex or Winsor & Newton acrylic paints and here is a sample. It is on 8" x 8" canvas and thanks to Cherie for providing the photograph.



Eventually I came back recently to using oil paint once again. But there was something wrong this time. The colours didn't seem to be as bright as they used to be and mixing colour from the tubes they very quickly lost their sheen, becoming 'muddy' and unsatisfactory. Didn't know why until I was told that manufacturers were saving costs by reducing the amount of pigment and replacing it with some sort of filler, usually magnesium silicate. So I looked at other paints on the market and got hold of some Old Holland oils and these proved to be excellent, saturated colours I think is the right description. These little mini masterpieces are all on 2" x 2" canvases using Old Holland paint.



But Old Holland paints are not available locally and I have given up trying to buy things from the internet. It takes far too long to plough through page after page and getting a sore finger going clickety click. In reality, it is much quicker to use a catalogue and fill in the order form and post it off but the world is mesmerised by the novelty of technology and brains are now redundant. I knew that Michael Harding oil paints were available locally because I had seen them in the shop and, from what I have read and heard, they are reputed to be the best oils on the market endorsed by the likes of David Hockney and Howard Hodgkin.

On YouTube I found some demonstrations of the MH oils; this is the colour amethyst.



Very impressive so I have bought a few tubes of MH paints and have been trying them. They are indeed very good and vibrant colours. I will have to get used to their different characteristics but so far I like them and the first result is here which is also an 8" x 8" canvas -



Just a note on the colours: The background was originally indian yellow and the trees were done in pthalo blue. After a couple of days I decided it wasn't quite right, the yellow was too strong so I covered it with cadmium yellow mixed with titanium white and a wee bit of the indian yellow to give it some warmth. Then I muted the blue of the trees by going over it loosely with pthalo blue mixed with unbleached titanium. Much improved.

Not bad for a first attempt and it is currently being framed after which it will soon be hanging somewhere on my crowded walls.

I'm still learning, this is a never ending process. When I am 100, if I get that far, I might eventually know what I am doing!

Now you are probably wondering why I am so keen on bright, vibrant colours. That's easy, they remind me of heaven! That is not as daft as it sounds because throughout history most if not all religious and spiritual traditions make great use of colour in festivals and often in daily life for exactly the same reason, to remind them of heaven.

In Revelations 21 in the Bible, John describes the new Jerusalem* thus: "And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.... And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass."

The whole city is made entirely of precious stones, all glittering in 'the light'.

It is only the puritans of all creeds who want a monochrome world devoid of colour, of decoration, of ornament; all colour and life and joy removed.

*Sackerson notes: also described in the heartbreaking mediaeval poem "Pearl" - see translation here from l. 985 onwards: http://www.billstanton.co.uk/pearl/pearl_new.htm


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Refs:

Winsor & Newton http://www.winsornewton.com/uk/discover/about-us

Van Gogh watercolour paints https://www.royaltalens.com/en-gb/

Liquitex paints http://www.liquitex.com/

Old Holland oil paints http://www.oldholland.com/en/products/classic-oil-colours/

Michael Harding oil paints http://www.michaelharding.co.uk/

5 comments:

Sackerson said...

Speaking of mini masterpieces, readers may like this site:

http://ithinkoutsidemybox.blogspot.co.uk/

Sackerson said...

Also, I read recently that Hokusai's "Great Wave" exploited the possibilities of the new synthetic colour Prussian blue:

http://www.metmuseum.org/blogs/now-at-the-met/2014/great-wave

Thank goodness it was affordable, otherwise perhaps we'd never have had that masterpiece:

"Michelangelo couldn’t afford ultramarine [...] Derived from the lapis lazuli stone, the pigment was considered more precious than gold." - https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2015/06/08/true-blue/

and an art programme I saw recently said the blue in the Wilton Diptych was in part a demonstration of the king's wealth, that he could afford so much lapis pazuli for the painting.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilton_Diptych

Twilight said...

Good stuff, JD! So, painting is much more than being able to depict reality, on paper or canvas - or even to depict unreality. There's the issue of materials - all too real!

Sackerson's comment relating to the colour blue reminded me of something I read about American artist Maxfield Parrish's famous vibrant signature blue:

"He was and still is associated with a particularly vibrant shade of blue that blanketed the skies of his landscapes, although you will only rarely see a glimpse of that color in reality. And it was not easy for him to render. He devised a laborious technique using base of cobalt blue and white undercoating, which he then glazed with a number of thin alternating coats of oil and varnish. The particular resins he used, called Damar, are known to floresce a shade of yellow-green when exposed to ultraviolet light, giving the unique turquoise hue to the painted sky."

Clip from this blog
https://artsenclave.wordpress.com/2010/01/18/how-maxfield-parrish-got-so-blue-2/

CherryPie said...

The way you work with colours is quite special. The photo I provided is a poor substitute of your painting. The photo does not show the vibrancy of the colours or the 3D effect that lures me into the painting (which is on the wall behind me as I type) :-)

Looking forward to seeing more of your paintings :-)

James Higham said...

I always felt JD to be a fabulous artist in his use of colour, not a long way from the primitivists and that is no insult.