Monday, June 29

A Discovery with Water-Soluble Oils

My Picnic Spot
Oil on Canvas Panel
11 x 14 in/27.9 x 35.6 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2015
I made a painting discovery a few weeks ago when I was painting today's image.

I began painting with water-soluble oil paints last year, and I have pretty much switched from acrylic, although I will still  bring out my acrylic palette every now and then.

Not having painted much at all with regular oils because of their odor and the need to use and clean up with pungent spirits, I took to water-solubles and have not looked back.

In the beginning I didn't want to use mediums and oils specifically made for water-solubles. Instead I stuck with plain old water as a medium for thinning the paint, but the water and paint don't mix easily or quickly.

I found that some brands were stiffer and required more water than others to get the consistency of paint I wanted. Also, it seems all titanium whites, no matter what the brand, require some thinning.

Just so you know, I have tried Artisan, Woil, Grumbacher, and Lukas brands. They all are acceptable, but none is as "buttery" as I would like (or think I would like). Eventually I will get around to trying Cobra, Holbein, and whatever else is out there

However, back to the topic of today's blog. What I discovered is that I should have been applying a drop of water-soluble linseed oil or stand oil to my mixing palette. I thought my adding oil would make the paint too thin, so that it would not hold a peak. I was wrong; I found that a drop or two is fine.

What a difference it makes! The paint is so easy to spread and my brush virtually flies around the palette. I  feel a freedom to try brushstrokes and techniques I wouldn't attempt with a stiffer paint.

Of course, it does slow the drying time, but you can't have everything in a perfect painting world. Try it, you may like it.

Monday, June 22

Summertime and the Painting Is Easy

The Summer Cove
Oil on Canvas Panel
11 x 14 in/27.9 x 35.6 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2015
Today being the first full day of summer in the northern hemisphere, I wanted to blog about that.

Now is the time to get out and capture all those motifs in the countryside, the cities, or the seasides you visit or plan to visit on your vacation (holiday). Or you can paint them right there en plein aire if you take along your pochades, easels, and supplies.

Since there's more light and longer days (in the northern hemisphere), take advantage of the warm weather and longer painting time. You'll wish you had come this December.

Summer is the time for painting the sunlight and putting in all that chroma that is illuminated by the light this time of year.

Painting today's image from a reference photo was a lot of fun. I painted the strong sunlight coming from the right  and falling on the water, the mountain, and the beach.

Two things were especially fun for me to paint. One was seeing and then mixing the correct shades of blue corresponding to the various depths of water in the cove. There really are beautiful beaches like this all over the world.

The second was including the house in the lower right with its pop of orange on the tile roof. Note that although it's not the focal point, as would be expected, it leads the viewer's eye to the actual focal point which is the bright, sandy beach on the right.

I hope my blogging inspires you to get out of the studio this summer and have some fun when the painting is easy.

Monday, June 15

I Broke a Painting Rule (or Two)

Lone Tree, TX 77963
Oil on Canvas Panel
11 x 14 in/27.9 x 35.6 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2015
I'm not one who lives by the saying that "rules are made to be broken." Not usually, but occasionally.

Last week was one of those occasions. I ran across a reference photo that caught my eye and my desire to paint it.

I do believe that a good painting starts with interesting subject matter and evolves from there. Of course, what makes for interesting subject matter is why people rarely agree on anything.

Be that as it may, I decided to paint today's image, which I think is an interesting subject--a lone tree, of which I have painted many and will surely paint more in the future.

Do you know what rule(s) I have broken?

First rule I broke was to place the focal point smack dab, as they say, in the middle of the painting. I think this rule streys from the Rule of Thirds, which divides the canvas in thirds and says you put the focal point at the intersecting lines.

Well, oops, I didn't do that. It's in the middle because that's where I placed it. When I was composing the scene in my mind's eye, that's where the tree belongs--all by itself in the center of the composition.

The second rule I nearly broke was to place the horizon line too close to halfway, dividing the canvas in two. Although it's not at the halfway point, I should have placed it lower (or higher) to follow the rule.

But I placed it where I wanted it to be in my painting. That's the point of today's blog--it's MY painting, and it's only my opinion that counts.

Monday, June 8

From Representational to Impressionist to Abstract

Reflections on a Pond
Oil on Hardboard
24 x 18 in/61 x 45.7 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2015
I'm not one to paint many abstract paintings. I can count on one hand the number I've ever done. I recently looked through my personal "collection of the artist" paintings, which I discussed a couple of blogs ago, and there are no abstracts.

That said, however, I recently ran across a reference photo on a site that allows painters permission. While obvious what it actually was, it was formatted to look as if it were a collection of abstract shapes and colors.

It was those shapes and especially the colors that spoke to me, and in fact, said to paint exactly what I saw, which was an abstract painting.

I first decided what size would be most effective, and settled on 24 x 18 in/61 x 45.7 cm because in my very limited experience, it seems that most abstracts are usually larger rather than smaller formats (while in no way comparing myself to them, think Mark Rothko or Jackson Pollock).

I then decided on oil over acrylic as the medium because my intent was to soften the shapes by blending, which is easier with oil, even though acrylic is often associated with abstract painting since it is a relatively new medium (1955).

I used the following palette: ultramarine blue, cyan/primary or Winsor blue depending on the manufacturer, yellow ochre, cad yellow light, alizarin crimson, cadmium orange, and titanium white.

Although abstract looks as if a child could do it, it actually involves as much thought, proper value/color, and competent brushwork as any representational or impressionist painting. Or at least it did for me. It took me three days to complete.

It's very different from paintings I usually do, but that's exactly why I am satisfied with the outcome.

Tuesday, June 2

Paint What Inspires YOU

Imagine South Pacific
Oil on Canvas Panel
11 x 14 in/27.9 x 35.6 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2015
The simple message in today's blog is stated in its headline: Paint What Inspires YOU (emphasis on YOU).

Although painting should be about continually improving your skills and your outcomes, it is primarily about expressing in paint what visually inspires and excites you.

While we can learn a lot from copying the old masters, emulating current contemporary painters, and following every brushstroke on instructional DVDs, ultimately it's your own personal expression that you should be trying to nurture.

I think that can only come from within, only from what makes you want to put down paint on canvas or board.

Think about that next time you're fretting about why your work doesn't look like ______'s (fill in the blank).

Otherwise, happy painting.