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