Early work_ 1980's, 1990's

Philip Howe Fine Art
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Recent work 4
Angel Paintings
Recent Work 3
Recent Work 2
Recent Work 1
Fine Art - Figures,Portraits, Other Subjects
Landscapes
Life Drawings (Figure drawings)
Early work_ 1980's, 1990's
Demos of several Paintings
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Here are a few paintings from an earlier period. I worked primarily from light to dark in large, fast washes or sweeps of oil color, using very large canvas to achieve realism quickly. This technique is very fast but takes more than one layer to achieve the look I wanted, so I finally moved back to heavier paint and more opaque passages where I do one section fully and move on. I do miss those big sweeps of translucent oil color but I can't get the full realism that way and painting this big requires a very large studio. I can achieve a similar effect with gouache on canvas or board, working much smaller, but they look like miniatures by comparison. 

Below, you can see the translucent effect in the shadows. Working from dark to light with thinner paint and heavy medium is a great way to get translucent, rich shadow areas and melt the shadows into the middletones. There is not as much control of the edges, but the effect is more like a stained photo or drawing without defined edges. It's a different visual perspective than with opaque paint.

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Arnie_theater director portrait 6x10ft oil washes on canvas
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Closed Door 5x7 ft. oil on canvas
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Spring 5x7ft oil on canvas
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Pagoda 6x8 ft oil on canvas
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Involution 6x10 ft. oil on canvas
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Involution Detail

This large piece was painted over the course or nearly 10 days, using quick oil washes with a faster drying medium thinned down to the consistency of thick soup, then spread over the area I wanted to work on, usually a 4 or 5 foot section. I would work on other things while the paint set up and go back over the areas when really dry, in a day, building up each layer with a bit more translucent paint until I got the effect I wanted. Since I didn't know how far to really take it, I let the painting show me when it was at a point where I felt I shouldn't touch it again. It's much like watercolor, just splashing on thin washes until it looks solid enough to leave alone. The advantage of oil, of course, is that I can work into those washes for about an hour before the medium set up and my brushes would stick too bad to continue. But I could still scratch into edges here and there which allowed me to move from one section into the next, always trying to unify the piece. It's quite a bit easier than it sounds and the effects are unique, especially for mural-size work.

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Involution Detail
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Floating detail
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Angel on the Road 6x11 ft. oil on canvas

Above and below you can clearly see the effect of the translucent layering of thin paint trapped in a soup of medium. The detail of the head shows how you can take this wet wash, after smoothing it out, then hit it again with turpentine or mineral spirits in splatter strokes thrown at the canvas or stroked on with a splayed fan brush. I used to use a toothbrush as well, whatever worked. By adding this 'texture' layer, it gives the illusion of more depth and a surreal quality of light sweeping over the forms. Again, you must keep the paint thin, diluted with about 1/2 medium. I think I was using 1/2 japan dryer with 1/2 damar varnish + paint color and a bit of mineral spirits if needed. This made the paint washes more viscous so that when you hit it with mineral spirits again, after letting it sit on the canvas surface for a few minutes, the splatter effect made it come to life a bit more. The medium made even white paint dry overnight, if not within 8 hours, so you can see how easy it was to build up over the course of a few days. I have never had any problems with the works cracking or any archival problems whatsoever, although I am inclined to think this could happen if you use heavy paint over top of the washes. 

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Detail from above
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Vortex 5x12 ft. oil on canvas

With Vortex, above and below, I am transitioning into a bit heavier paint. I started this large piece by flooding the canvas surface with gouache. Once the gouache is in place, still fairly thin, I can rewet it with a spray, usually a large airbrush or common atomizer water bottle sprayer, then buff this out with mop brushes and it gives you a very nice, soft underpainting. I can splatter water into this and if that doesn't look just right I can just spray it again and buff it out. I can do this years later if I left it uncovered, but the gouache alone is not rich enough so I coated the entire piece with Liquin then, after drying, started to build up to heavier oil paint. It doesn't take much, since the underpainting is full covered, and the Gouache is a perfect color ground to pull the paint from my brush just like dry gesso.

Below, you can see the 'magical' effect that the water takes on with using sparkles to enhance the reflections. It's a look I was intrigued with when I was younger, but grew out of for more serious work. Still, it gives an interesting illusion of sparkling water in a surreal blue surrounding area and goes with the piece. It was achieved by using the gouache base, spraying a fix over the base blue and then hitting the white highlights with a mist and smearing that white up and down. After I got close to what I wanted, basically white vertical sparkles, I used oil to enhance the surrounding blue and the whole area sparkled into life. It's a bit like a reverse glaze, where I am using an opaque, lighter color to float over a darker underpainting. Most glazing is done from light to dark, but with enough medium trapping the paint, you can work dark to light. I don't recommend it, but its fun to try. 

The rock just below clearly shows the gouache base in its raw state. I just smeared or buffed the light and dark side together until it achieved a slighly blurry effect and left it. The only oil over it is perhaps a tint or thin glaze of sky tone, but it shows you how effective you can use gouache as an underpainting, if you have the patience to play with it, since it comes in small tubes and you use a lot of it to coat an area, by comparison to oil. Casein is another possible underpainting medium, but I found this to ruin my brushes in how it sticks in the brush heads even after several washes. But, like gouache, it is resoluable- or reworkable, at least for a short period of a few hours. Acrylic, however, once it drys, is quite in-soluable, or permanent. You can't lift it unless you use a strong solvent, and buffing it or moving it around is impossible since it dries so quickly. There are advantages to this, however, especially as an underpainting where you want to build up layers of acrylic to get the work moving along quicker than oils. The jury is still out on how archival this approach is. I feel it's safe on firm panels, but not on flexible canvas. It's in acrylic's ability to flex more than oil that may cause problems cracking later on.

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Vortex detail
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Vortex detail 2

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