Tuesday, June 23, 2009
PENNY AND USING OIL PAINT
oil on canvas
This commission was done at least 3 years ago. I am gratefully very busy this week and wanted to post today, so meet Penny.
I remember feeling very out of control when I did this particular portrait. When I started painting pet portraits, I felt compelled to finish a portrait a week—I guess due to the insane deadlines from my previous career—and as a result the work did not turn out the way I would have liked. At that time, I hadn't a clue how to use oil paint and started my work day by squeezing out a blob of color from every tube of paint I had in the studio! I'd then thin the paint—as I worked—by dipping my brush in turp substitute and try to cajole it into a workable consistency. The result was too thin paint that would dry dull and transparent by the next morning. Some of that is evident here.
When it dawned on me that perhaps there might be a better way, I Googled and found The Carder Method. It's a great tool for beginners and professionals alike, and offers a complete course in still life painting, but I was mainly interested in the mixing, storing and using of oil paint and this was just what I was looking for.
With a few changes to suit my needs, my experience with oil paint went from weird to great virtually overnight! I now use very few colors—burnt umber, Frenchmarine blue, red, yellow and white in air-tight canning jars, thinned to a luxurious texture with Delq Oil Painting Medium for my work. I dole out generous portions of those colors with inexpensive tongue depressors, into a large, rectangular shaped, air-tight plastic container lined with a few sheets of taped, cut to size palate paper. When I work, I mix the colors from the air-tight container, onto a large serving tray with die-cut handles, also lined with taped sheets of cut to size palate paper. I then compare the color I mixed to my subject matter or reference using the patented color checker included in the Carder Method and I'm off.
This process has saved my sanity, my time and lots and lots of paint. I store the air-tight container in the fridge when I'm done and the colors stay moist and skin-free for at least two weeks. I change the mixing tray sheets as needed by just untaping the used layer, carefully peeling it up and re-taping the layer underneath. Now, if I could just get my brushes to wash themselves, I'd be set. If anyone knows how to keep brushes plush and usable for more than two weeks, please don't hold back! On his DVD, Jeffery Hein mentioned that he stores his brushes in mineral oil and rarely cleans them. I'm tryin' that next.