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"Distant Isles": oil 18x14 inches

, 15:49

... Every so often I work a sea- or cloudscape entirely from imagination; like this one. Deep blues with touches of pink and mauve have always been a favourite colour combination of mine; unfortunately it is also rather tricky to photograph because digital cameras often fail to pick up the purple hues.

The origin of this painting was actually a much smaller one, worked with a few blue-greys and bits and bobs of alizarin, rose-pink and ochre (also "made up"). Feeling the need to push on and create some larger pieces for online gallery display, I used the small work as a starting point for a new, larger one. Almost immediately the rainy-day effect kicked in as the sky was being brushed on, so I darkened it further to create rain-veils.

With a sharply defined focal point of watery sunshine, my tendency to exaggerate contrasts came forward, presenting itself in the dark purple-blue of the seawater, made from thalo blue, ultramarine and a little zinc white here and there, with the more opaque cobalt blue. The distant islands actually created themselves, from overlapping sea and sky colour; I just defined them a little more to look like land. There is not much brushwork in this picture; some in the sky and beach, but mostly palette-knife for the sea-water.

The foreground was made simply with yellow ochre, a touch of gold paint and a little burnt sienna here and there; overlaid with mixed blues as before.

In some areas, cold wax was used in small amounts to spread the paint out, mixed with a little liquin. The backlit waves were made with white plus random mixes of pink with the blues, anything really that was left over on the palette. Some foreground waves were painted with a finger.

In progress: "Hydrangea Woods", oil on mdf board 12x10inches

, 09:37

...

Finally back to doing some constructive work, although not without various interruptions during the day. There are real disadvantages to working from home, too many distractions such as uncleaned floors and junk-piles to sort. It has become quite a mental battle to forcefully shoe-horn artwork into the day. However there are a couple of things currently in progress; one is a slow-growing pencil drawing and another is an imaginary seascape in oils. Today's piece has been in progress since mid-August but there isn't much more to sort out on it.

This woodland path was well stocked with flowering hydrangea bushes and I took a number of photos of it at the time. The surface is mdf board. The paint itself is rather matt (ie no shiny areas), due to the fact that I mixed in a small amount of cold wax to the paint. No brushes have been used in the painting, only a small painting-knife. The paint has been pushed around and modelled, to form the background tree and branches, along with the numerous hydrangea flower-heads.

In the distance is a gentle golden light, again made by just pushing the modified paint around. I will be extending the tree branches towards the left edge of the picture; they look just a little cramped in their current state. There is also a bottom corner that needs populating with a small shrub or two, just lightly....and then it's probably complete. The picture itself is very slightly cropped off on the left....I couldn't fit it all in the scanner.

Lime Marmalade: oils 8x8 inches

, 09:38



After the rush of paintings earlier in the year, I have been unable to settle to finish anything much. However this one is now done. Oils are especially useful to portray juicy glistening materials such as jellies and marmalades. The colour scheme for this picture was kept primarily in the pale yellows/acid greens sector, balanced by mauve shading, mixed from cobalt blue and alizarin crimson. With local exhibitions due in July, I really need to get a move on....so far this year I have very few pastel works finished and those that are complete seem to feel like little more than exercises.

"Clouds over Portmeirion": oil 12x9 inches

, 08:48



Oils on canvasboard, 24cm x 30cm (approx 12x9 inches). Another from North Wales...Viewing the sky from a high vantage-point close to the Town Hall in Portmeirion. In front of me directly was quite a lot of open space and flat rooftop, not exactly inspiring material....so I cropped my photo down to exclude all this and concentrate mainly on the sky. A fairly quickly-executed painting; the first stage was done in around 2 hours and then I had to leave it for a couple of weeks; finishing it the day before yesterday in around an hour and a half.

My second painting, also completed on the same day, shows a different part of the country; that I'll put up here early next week.

"White Horses Tower, Portmeirion": oils 8x8 inches

, 13:12



Finally, a new small oil painting, pretty much complete and now drying. It won't go up for sale just yet but I may put it onto the website anyway. I am planning a little series of paintings from scenes around the model village at Portmeirion, North Wales. For those who know nothing about it, there's plenty of info online....but it became well-known as the backdrop for Patrick MacGoohan's "The Prisoner" TV series way back in the 1960's. Today it is a holiday village (and no doubt for many other events as well); the buildings are Italian in styling and although they look huge, many are actually relatively small inside, with modest accommodation.

The location has some excellent woodland and coastal views; and in summer the skies are often filled with great banks of cloud. The picture posted here is of a view at the seafront, looking towards what is known as the White Horses Tower. The brightness of the painting is owed to the pure white surface of Ampersand gessoboard, which is great when seeking clean pure colours in an image.

I may just put a little darker glaze on the tower a few weeks from now, since it is actually in "bright" shade (contradiction in terms but it means a shaded area that still has a lot of light bouncing into it).

Another small painting in progress is another cloud-scene from Portmeirion...should be completed soon, maybe this coming week. Finally, another larger painting also in progress is yet another cloudscape, 24x20 inches....this is a real long job and it will be some time before completion (if it gets there!).

The website has now been updated with two new templates and some page-link names have been changed, so don't be surprised to encounter 404 error messages on occasions if you have old bookmarks. I am also making more of linking my images to my account at Original-Art-Under100.com......mainly because it seems people are happier to purchase there than from me directly (not sure why, but there it is). I am discontinuing Paypal buttons on my website and will invoice buyers for any item that is requested directly.

"Scintillation": Oil-bars and oils 20x16 inches

, 09:20


I'll have a new picture to photograph, in probably, a couple of days so another post here should happen shortly. A few years ago I purchased some Winsor and Newton oilbars, with a view to developing some larger work. After a few struggles with them I began to find my own method and was hopeful of improving results. Frustratingly, six months later, the paint surface was still "dentable" with a finger-nail; and similarly after a year, it was still slightly scratchable. Since I am not an impasto painter, the paint was generally thin, but simply had not dried. I am sure there is nothing wrong with the oilbars, but more likely my method of working. However, several months back I decided to have another go, this time with the smaller Sennelier oilbars (38ml).

Result: a touch-dry surface in about five to six days. This was a bit of a surprise. I decided to experiment further and used the bars to overpaint an old acrylic work, basing the new subject-material on the old underlying pattern. In addition, I included tube oilpaint at the same time, which entailed blobbing colour onto the canvas and then pushing it around with an oilbar. For example, ultramarine blue tube-paint worked with a white oil-bar; or vice-versa.

"Scintillation" was the end-product. Abstract isn't my usual style but I wasn't bothered about that aspect. It was about finding out what these oilbars would do. They are oil paint mixed with a percentage of wax, and behave like large pastels when in use, spreading colour, drawing lines, etc. They can be used on canvas, canvasboard, oil-paper and even gessoed smooth board (although there's less texture for the paint to grip to). The painting is currently listed in my gallery at Original-Art-Under100.com

My newest painting is approaching completion and I've used both oilbars and tube-paint in it. It is also one of the largest I have done for several years.

Nocturne, Hartland Church, Devon: oil 12x9

, 17:57

DailyPaintWorks.com Challenge: a Nocturne in Two Colours.

Tricky one this, because the challenge colours didn't include white or black pigments. Using my previous knowledge of working on oil-paper, I decided to go for a sheet of Arches Huile and try to use the white of the paper along with thin washes to get the light parts of the scene. Moonlight has a peculiar deadening effect on landscape colours. I have managed to achieve some of these dead "greys" in the past using ultramarine and either cadmium red or cadmium scarlet; in this picture I opted for the scarlet. I've also managed it to some extent using ultramarine and light red (but light red isn't in my box right now). The picture was worked from a photo that I took on holiday several years ago; walking back towards the holiday cottage in mid-evening, the moon emerged above the local church and the picture was snapped. Just right for the DPW challenge.

Most of the painting is composed of thin washes, made from oil and Zest-It thinner. More paint has been applied with a palette knife at the bottom section, so that the land is denser and thicker in pigment than the sky. Arches oil paper has some interesting properties, permitting watercolour-like washes to be made and to create texture in those washes thanks to the nap of the paper. A few of the small "streetlights" dots were lifted out with a tightly-pointed piece of kitchen-towel dipped in thinner. The whole painting was completed in around an hour and a half.

https://www.dailypaintworks.com/fineart/christine-derrick/nocturne-hartland-church-devon/623772

Blue Jug: oil 8x8 inches

, 16:26

Back now, after a rather washed-out holiday in southern Scotland. Sadly no painting of note done, due to very heavy rain, but hopefully some references to use in the future. "Blue Jug" was painted directly from the still-life set-up a few weeks ago, on Ampersand gessobord. Going to DailyPaintWorks shortly.

Update: http://www.dailypaintworks.com/fineart/christine-derrick/blue-jug-and-fruit/622694

City Back-Street: oil 10x8 inches

, 12:40



Another DailyPaintWorks challenge, this time the challenge was to turn the reference image upside down and paint from it. I have known about this method for a long time, but oddly enough have never tried it (to the best of my knowledge). I decided to choose a subject with definite shapes in it, rather than something "organic". Townscapes are not my usual theme, but it can be interesting to just paint in "blocks" of colour and see the buildings emerge. This time I painted on a stretched canvas; I actually wish I had stuck to my usual board because this canvas seemed a little hungry for my paint oil. Nonetheless it was completed over a four-hour period (with an hour out for lunch!)....seems a long time for a 10x8, but in fact it took me a while to get used to handling the upside-down image, so I was rather slow. And I didn't turn the painting round the right away until I'd finished....in the end I was quite surprised at the result, that it had actually come out looking like the street....but in a looser style. I agree that "upside down" prevents too much fiddling detail and really does make you think differently. The picture isn't for sale at this time because I'm not going to be around for a while.

I shall possibly have to miss the next challenge because I shall be absent from the computer; but maybe I'll be able to catch up in due course. This will be my last post this month; am back again after the first week of September.

P.S for those recently visiting the blog, I am sorry that the comments are off, but I was receiving a lot of spam. I may have to look for an alternative blog system, although I prefer to keep it all under my own control, rather than letting the likes of Blogger et al run the show.

Little Brown Egg: oils 6x6 inches

, 08:42



Maintaining the current pace with oils at present; this little still life was set up to work with blues and contrasting white, plus a touch of metal. The egg adds a splash of something somewhat near an orange colour. Pleased with this one; completed in around 2 to 2 1/2 hours; seems a long time for such a small painting but the spoon gave me most work to do, to fathom out the colours to represent colourless metal.... https://www.dailypaintworks.com/fineart/christine-derrick/little-brown-egg/617011

In progress---Late Afternoon, Back Street: oil 12x9 inches

, 18:03

More out of my comfort zone, this painting was done for the DailypaintWorks.com weekly challenge; theme, light and shadows. I will finish it when the paint has dried back a bit and is not so sticky. The windows still need forming, and various sections of the roofs need more definition. The source image was a photo taken in the nearby city, catching the buildings half in light and half shadow.

For some unexplainable reason, the oil paintings have been going very well and I have put pastels on the back burner for the time being. I have completed six oils in around eight days, which is unheard of. I set my mind to tackling the DPW weekly challenge, producing the jug and spoon painting a couple of weeks ago, then moved on to complete FruitBowl (last post), plus another still life, a small floral, a further still life and now Late Afternoon (in progress). Apart from today's post, the others were all painted directly from life and I think this has suddenly kick-started a flow of work.

I am hoping that this will help in time to direct the pastel paintings away from a more "drawn" appearance to one of a "painted" look. It is tempting to draw every last detail, even when using pastels....by working in oils in a quicker, more broad manner, I hope to transfer some of that thinking over to the pastels (eventually).

On the technical front, I am planning to move my entire website over to the https protocol. I've recoded all the website, but the blog might cause problems, since there are many internal links to images (in each post) that I have to find the code for, to alter (if I can). When this will happen, I don't know but possibly during next week. If it all goes wrong, then I shall have to simply reload with the old http protocol and try to fathom out what went wrong.

Fruitbowl: oil on MDF panel; 3.5 x 3.5 inches

, 17:45



https://www.dailypaintworks.com/fineart/christine-derrick/fruitbowl/614615
Things are on a roll with oils right now; four pictures in 5 days, all worked directly from the subject.

So, before the final demolition of the remaining nectarines, here they are in a bowl, painted in oils on a very small-format piece of gessoed MDF board; measuring just over 3 inches square (around 75-80 mm).

I continue to like painting things in these mini-scales. They are often overlooked in the grand scheme of things, as people rush headlong through life seeking only the biggest, brightest and jazziest canvases. But at least I have plenty of storage space for my small pieces. For several years I've preferred the smooth surface that gessoed boards provide. I still have canvas and canvas-boards, but now I treat them with several layers of acrylic gesso to smooth out some of the tooth.
I set this small board up in my pochade box, which takes a max. size of 6x8 inches (and will handle an 8x8 inch board with the top flap open). It makes a useful table-easel (although small). I have also used it a number of times outdoors, resting on my lap and steadied with one arm (this again can be difficult if the pose is maintained for a couple of hours, due to arm cramp). Some folk have fitted tripod legs to their pochade boxes.

Spoon-Bender: oil 8x8 inches

, 07:57



Occasionally I have a go at DailyPaintWorks' weekly challenge, and this week the theme is water. My subject isn't overly full of colour, but the refraction of light creates an interesting double image of the spoon. The oil was painted on a canvas-board that had been previously textured with some gesso, for another project that didn't happen. You can find the painting at DPW here: https://www.dailypaintworks.com/fineart/christine-derrick/spoon-bender/614832

Hawthorn Tree: Oil 6x6 inches

, 14:39

Mostly back online again now and trying to catch up on missed painting days. I am selecting a group of photos and sketches from recent canal-side walks and looking to make paintings out of them. Whether they will be oils or pastels...or both...has not been fixed, so I shall just work with whatever I think appropriate. I might even do a scene more than once.

https://www.dailypaintworks.com/fineart/christine-derrick/hawthorn-tree/586245

The very long Thames and Severn canal has a focal point at Stroud, Gloucestershire; once off and away from the main roads, this walk reveals numerous hidden glades, woodland scenes and unusual viewpoints. The small painting here is a simple one; a hawthorn tree in full flower, of which there were many on the day I went out. I decided to return to oils for these small works and I have a couple more currently in progress.

Snow on Ben Lawers : oil 7x5 inches.

, 12:04

Back to painting; this small oil on Ampersand "Gessobord" is a little scene that I have had in mind to do for a long time, but never managed to decide the best format until now. I was fortunate to photograph Ben Lawers in Perthshire, Scotland, at a time when it had a covering of snow, accompanied by a long, low and rather striking cloudbank. The top of it is seen here across two steep-sloping ranges of dried grasses that were in deep shadow. The moon was also in view but I decided not to include it on such a small painting, focusing instead on the snowy slopes.

Colours used; alizarin crimson, cadmium yellow, cadmium red, cadmium orange, french ultramarine, titanium white.

Winter Wall: oil on paper 12x9 inches

, 10:58

Have been waiting for this one to dry before handling for photograph. The original source reference was actually an autumn view with rather dull greeny-brown hills and mud, so I decided to winter-ise it. The stone wall slopes away to the right down a very steep hill and in fact my later photos in that area provide a few interesting possibilities for a larger painting. There is also a pastel of this same scene in progress; I haven't worked on it for a couple of weeks because I now have flu and am pretty much incapable of major focus for any serious painting.....so it will have to wait.

Winter Wall is on Arches oil paper, specially produced for handling the characteristics and properties of oil paint; it does not allow bleed-through to the back, permits thin washes and the application of impasto paint, and provides a smooth surface rather than the toothiness of board or canvas. It can be framed with a mountboard, or affixed to a suitable acid-free panel and framed directly without glass. The paint can be varnished, just as if it were on canvas.

https://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/652277

Cloudscape, North Wales: oil 7x5 inches

, 11:54

I'm working on one or two more demanding pastels at the moment, so have backed off further small ones and returned to oils for a while. This one is a small 7x5 inch picture on gessoed MDF panel, with rainstorm clouds and green shadowed landscape.

https://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/647225

Moody Poly: oil on board 6x6 inches

, 07:47

Quick post today; here's a small impressionistic floral, just dried enough to scan.... this polyanthus was brought indoors to paint, during a recent bout of hay-fever when I just couldn't sit out. A quickish painting, to try and capture the deep reds that these flowers have, along with the sharply contrasting dots of yellow. On DailyPaintWorks as an auction, from Saturday 21st, at: http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/552736 Start bid $28.

Winter Clouds over Loch Tay: oil, 12x9 inches

, 17:53

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/fineart/christine-derrick/winter-clouds-loch-tay/477876

The painting for this post is a little more unusual. It has been painted on Arches oil paper, a fairly new product that looks very much like watercolour paper but has been specially treated to handle oil paint.

Normally, the oils and turps will eventually rot untreated paper (that is, a sheet of watercolour paper used "as is"). There is nothing wrong in using such paper for oil-sketching but you have to just remember that it may have quite a short life-span.

Arches oil-paper takes a little bit of getting used to; this is only the second time I've tried it. I find the surface to be fairly absorbent; it pulls moisture from the brush as you paint over the surface, causing the brush to "run out" of paint quite quickly. It does, though, permit turpsy washes to be put down, rather like a watercolour wash; very useful for blocking in the main components of a picture. Washes can be scrubbed around, too, the paper is strong and able to put up with some rougher treatment.

Once a certain amount of paint has been laid on, it becomes easier to add it with a painting knife. You can push the paint around and scrape it off with very few problems. In the case of this painting, I started to add the light parts of the clouds on top of the darker areas with a small knife. The bright ochre-orange foreground hillside was worked only with a small knife. It was easy to push the paint around on such a smooth surface; and the marks created did not sink down or disappear.

I think the paper tends to give a more matt finish to the painted image, than you would get on canvas, and certainly more so than on a gessoboard. However, I find this interesting because there is some resemblance to the matt appearance of a pastel painting.

Finally, how to frame something on oil-paper. Contrary to some beliefs, you don't HAVE to frame it under glass, just because it is paper. There are a number of ways of getting the paper mounted onto stiff backing-boards (I'm still researching them); this then creates a panel, which can be framed just like any other oil, i.e without glass. I imagine that, once strengthened in this way, and maybe also with varnish on it, the picture will be as robust as any other canvasboard or ply panel.

I might consider painting the same subject twice; once on oil-paper for a matt finish; and then in pastels on my usual surface, to make a comparison.

Summer Masses: oil on canvasboard 6x8 inches

, 14:32

On DailyPaintWorks.com: http://www.dailypaintworks.com/fineart/christine-derrick/summer-masses/476550

Back to painting again and this one is now dry enough to scan and put online.

Continuing with the clouds theme which seems to have taken over much of my painting in recent months; these were viewed from a high vantage-point in the Lake District near Threlkeld. Painted fairly quickly, within a couple of hours, to try and catch the briskness of the storm clouds which, although rather cumbersome, were buzzing through the sky at a fair rate.

In case anyone's wondering what has happened to my pastels, the answer is nothing....generally. For some reason, at this particular time, oils are working for me better than anything else, so I just go with it.

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