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Hartland Cliffs: oilbars and oil 30x22 inches

, 12:01


A fortunately dry and bright overcast day permitted me to get this canvas- board outside to photograph. Probably the biggest item I've worked on in recent times, but oilbars do tend to demand lots of space and elbow-room. The main shapes were marked out in pale blue before working from the top down (for the sky) and then distance to foreground for the cliffs.

Sennelier Ultramarine blue oilbar was blended with tube-light red, then blended further with a white oilbar to get distance for the cliffs furthest away. Some terre vert tube-green was introduced on the middle cliffs, along with a bluish-grey colour created from the oilbars; the whole thing was worked intuitively, not by any rigid method. Coming forward, pale greens were created with the oilbar mixes of lemon yellow plus ultramarine blue, with an occasional passage -over with white oilbar to knock the acidity down. Raw umber oilbar plus a bit of light red from a tube was used to start the sea-level rocks.

The sea was created from oilbars cerulean blue, ultramarine blue, white and raw umber; tube-white for the cresting waves. Finally the main foreground was laid in with heavy passages of oilbar; raw umber, prussian blue, ultramarine, cadmium yellow; with cadmium orange used for a front piece and modified with overlays of the other colours. The rocks were worked with white oilbar and the same colours as used for the vegetation.

At no point was a paintbrush used on any of the main components. A small palette knife helped with the waves. Zest-It diluent helped with spreading colour where required, using a rag placed over the forefinger.

Since the oilbar mixtures were surface dry in a few days, this allowed interesting paint overlays in the foreground section. The whole picture was worked as if using large (rather squidgy) pastels.

"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.