Take a look at this excellent short video by Scott Waddell.
Hello and Happy Spring!
In this video I’m simply illustrating how to make the color charts as explained in the book Alla Prima by Richard Schmid. This exercise will not teach you color theory or how to see color, but it will teach you what your colors can do in terms of mixing. You will have to invest some time and materials but what you will learn makes it all well worth it.
I’m using my chosen palette of colors, of course. You need not feel that you have to use my palette. In his book Richard Schmid is using a slightly different palette. His choice of colors works for him. The colors I use work for me and they can do virtually anything I want to do in the way of mixing color for my particular expression.
My palette consists of:
Cadmium Red Light
Transparent Red Oxide
I’m a little tardy in adding these two blogs to my Good Blogs page.
On Technical Insights Daniel Gerhartz gives us an intimate look into his process. I really enjoy reading some of this stuff because the character of his paintings are so very different from mine. It has a way of challenging my own thought processes and techniques in a very good way.
For a good laugh, and good info, too, take a look at Painting Stuff to Look Like Stuff by husband and wife David Gluck and Katherine Stone. These two are a hoot and both great painters as well.
Greetings from soggy Western Washington. Every year about this time I start dreaming of the South of France and contemplating a move. I don’t mind a little rain… but GEESH!
Okay, so, brushes. As many of you know, I’m a brushaholic. Few things get my blood pumping as much as a shiny row of neatly displayed brushes at the local art materials store. I just can’t help myself. I have to touch them and feel them and commune with them and decide if I’m gong to blow another 8 bucks on yet another brush. Yes, I’m a junkie when it comes to paint brushes. Not good for the pocketbook.
Maybe this post is a bit therapeutic for me. Here I would like to outline what kind of brushes I like and that there really isn’t a need for a huge amount of brushes. I guess I’m partly trying to convince myself, and in the process make it simple for the learning painter.
What type of brush? This will depend on several factors, the most important of which is what do you want the character of the paint film to look like? Smooth and silky? Chunky and organic? And of course, you may want a variety of brush character in your painting. This question has really been central to my more sensible brush buying decisions.
A second and perhaps equally important concern is what are you painting on? Do you like toothy canvas? Smooth canvas? Panel? Your support will have a lot to do with what your paint application looks like.
The third item you may need to consider is what is the size and subject of your painting? If you are doing a small highly detailed still life on panel your choice of brush may be different than if you are doing a larger figural piece on canvas.
I like to have two types of brushes on hand at all times.
I mostly paint small to medium sized paintings. I like a smooth support whether it’s canvas or panel. I do not like toothy or overly absorbent supports. This suits my expression and temperament. A smoother support offers me the opportunity to leave behind subtle brushwork. For my usual work I don’t go in for a bravura, Sargent-like paint application. But I do like to show some mark making, much like subtle cross-hatching in pencil drawing. Clean, but not too clean. So my brush of choice is going to be either a sable or softer synthetic. These brushes are firm enough to grab some paint and lay it on when fully loaded. And I do like to load my brush. I enjoy an opaque but controlled application of paint as I build each form
But there are times when I want a little more brush character. A little more impasto, or sculptural quality. For this I turn to Chungking hog bristle. There’s nothing quite like a loaded hog bristle brush. I love the raking lines left behind by the bristles. To me it gives a delicious tactile quality to the paint film — something I can “feel” with my eyes. Yummy. Also, I’ve been trying to paint larger lately. Canvases size 36×24, 30×40, something like that. For this size painting hog bristle brushes are my choice. I can lay down paint much faster and there is a more interesting character to the paint film. Not that I’m slopping the paint on. It’s still controlled, but the bristle just seems to be much more satisfying on a larger piece than my soft brushes.
What brands? This is really an important consideration. You need to buy quality. You need a brush that is going to hold it’s shape and not splay out after a few usages. Here are some brands I use that I highly recommend (though there are other good brands as well):
Sable or soft synthetic:
Rosemary & Co. Eclipse (synthetic) – I prefer the long filberts…just perfect!
Chungking Hog Bristle:
To narrow it down even further, I would probably go with the Eclipse and the Chungking bristle, both from Rosemary & Co. Everything they make is of the highest quality and the prices are very competitive. The added shipping from the UK is well worth it.
And, oh, I prefer rounds and filberts for the most part. I do have a few flats and brights but they don’t get much use. Rounds and filberts are my shapes of choice.
Thank you for reading this lengthy post. May the sun be shining down on you wherever you are (and I hope you’re not in a drought). Happy painting!
Here is a great way to enlarge and transfer a study drawing to your canvas. It’s one of many ways to do this, of course. You can also use graphite or charcoal transfer paper, or you can project your image. I’m sharing this method because a lot of people don’t know about it and it’s probably the most archivally sound method of transferring a drawing. I learned this method from a great artist and teacher Douglas Flynt. The advantage of an oil paint transfer is that it’s just paint. You don’t have to use any unhealthy fixative or worry about the graphite eventually migrating to the surface (you may have seen this phenomenon in the museums from time to time).
Once your drawing is transferred and dry (24 hours should suffice) you can proceed as you like. Many people will do some sort of grisaille or underpainting before tackling the real business of the painting. An underpainting is my usual method and highly recommended.
One other thing…since this process can sometimes involve a fairly large dollop of paint, I suggest using a cheaper student brand such as Winton, made by Winsor & Newton.
Hello to All,
I have recently added a couple more workshops to my Workshop Schedule page:
January 24-26 (plus evening demo on the 23rd)
Painting the Portrait from Life
For more info and/or to register contact Andrea Scheidler at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Portrait Sketch in Oil (alla prima technique)
Cloud Castle Art Studio
20640 Third Street
Saratoga, CA 95070
For more info or to register contact Gabriel Coke at: email@example.com or 831-345-1845.
Please take a look at the updated schedule by clicking HERE. Thanks!
I’ve had several questions lately from people really new to oil painting. The common question is “Should I take one of your workshops if I’m a really new beginner”. The quick answer to that is “no”. As is stated on the workshop schedule page my workshops are really not the best for totally green painters.
If you are new, get your hands on anything and everything related to the oil painting craft. Realize that you are embarking on a serious course of study. What you want to acquire is a highly refined skill that will take time and discipline. Abandon any romantic thoughts of effortlessly and joyously expressing your creative vision. Painting is damn hard work. At least, my kind of painting is.
There are, of course, many, many resources for the learning painter, the learning auto mechanic, the learning poker player, the learning hypnotist, etc. online, in book form, and dvds. I have posted many of these resources on my booklist and blog list. After you’ve seen my little videos and read my posts (which are not really a great comprehensive tool for the complete beginner) I recommend the following free resources:
Draw Mix Paint.com — This is Mark Carder’s excellent site for learning the basics. I like his style of teaching. Down to earth and practical. He’s got so much more to offer than I do here, so take advantage of it.
Proko.com — There is no end to the solid fundamentals taught here. Most of it is not painting, but drawing. Still, drawing is at the base of what we do and we need to learn these things. At the end of the day it’s all pictorial concerns anyway. Many students are after that special technique or “magic brush”, but if you don’t understand the rules of picture making you will not be able to employ the flashy stuff effectively anyway.
Get to work. There’s no short cut.
All the best in your journey,
There are still some spaces left for my five day still life workshop coming up October 25-29 at Whidbey Island Fine Art Studio. Learn my technique as well as my thought process regarding still life subject matter. To register click HERE.
This will be my fourth workshop with WIFAS. Director Cary Juriaans is always a generous and gracious hostess. I look forward to working with you!
As you can maybe tell, I’ve been practicing my alla prima technique quite a bit lately. It’s very challenging and great fun. I have found it to be great practice for honing my skills whether I’m painting direct or in a layered fashion.
As a former high school and college athlete as well as a musician (don’t play much anymore) I am well aware of the virtues of repetition. “Perfect Practice make Perfect” a coach used to say. “How on earth do I practice perfectly when I don’t know what the heck I’m doing” I use to respond. Well, one does one’s best. With an alla prima exercise such as this one I have an opportunity to try to make all the important decisions that go into picture making and try to execute in one fell swoop over the course of two or three hours.
It’s tragic to me when I see a student labor over a piece for days and weeks only to come up with something they are not happy with (Again, if you’re still learning set up small achievable goals. Don’t try to paint the Sistine Ceiling). Alla prima studies gives us a way to work on our important decision making processes in a repetitive way, just like I used to have to practice my hurdling technique in highschool track. Repetitive in that over the course of a week I can fit in three extra paintings where I’ve had to concern myself with drawing, values, color, and edgework, just like in my usual process. Now instead of one painting I’ve done maybe four in a week and gotten a heck of a lot of practice in.
Even if you are looking to achieve a more refined finish, commit a short season to doing a series of one session paintings. Spend a couple of hours on a piece. If it goes awry, make some notes about what went wrong. Try it again. In the video I’m working from a photo. I have bombed terribly on some others I’ve tried. Guess what? I’m going to try it again and do better. After all, I’m only spending two or three hours on it, not days and days.
Anyway, just a thought. I’ve been enjoying this type of study lately and I know it’s helping my other layered technique. Give it a try. It might help.
The long awaited Maple Leaf 3 video is here. It’s pretty poor quality — I apologize for that. I’m having trouble with my video program. It wasn’t letting me convert this video to a decent quality. Anyway, here it is.
For those of you new to my technique, this is the stage I call the overpainting. You can see there is already a thin underpainting in place. I let the underpainting dry before I begin the overpainting with full bodied paint. I execute the overpainting region to region, finishing as I go.
The finished piece:
Maple Leaf, 10 x 8, oil/panel by David Gray (private collection)
I’m also starting a newletter. In this monthly publication I will be keeping those interested informed of upcoming events such as classes, demonstrations, and exhibitions as well as other david-gray-art-related-stuff. Sign up below:
Hope you are having a great summer!