Summer Drifter: oil 10×8″

No way to properly schedule my post over the Easter holiday, so here it is, earlier than usual.

My new liking for Arches oil paper did well for me last year, but in January I used the wrong side of a sheet and really struggled to complete the work. Arches say that both sides of the paper can be painted on. Well, this is true….you can….but the results are different. I didn’t like the “right” side at all.

So what is the “right” side? Or at least, what is the side I paint on? I hold the paper up to the light and look for the watermark. If it reads correctly then the side facing me is the wrong side. If it reads back-to-front then the side facing me is what I select to use.

So…the above painting was taken from a photo snapped on a hot hazy afternoon in June, in the West country. Simple spreading landscape, with piles of summer cumulus. This one was particularly interesting, being rather ponderous and hanging lazily over a distant copse of trees. The work itself isn’t really finished; the foreground is still a bit bare and sketchy and I haven’t added the light on the tree-tops; but for want of time during the upcoming holiday period, I’ve decided to go with it.

Starting an oil on this paper is rather like using watercolour. Thin solvent washes are absorbed quickly and cannot be easily removed, but if done with a little planning can be incorporated into the image. I had trouble with the sky to start with but added extra white later on which settled it into a good summer colour. The cloud mass was begun with ultramarine blue plus perm.alizarin crimson, fairly thinly. Left to dry a little while cadmium orange and white were added to the mix to make further lighter-toned shadow colours.

Elsewhere, the distant hill was laid in with lemon yellow plus ultramarine blue—too dark, so some white added, and later toned down further with cerulean blue. The fields used lemon yellow and touches of the various blues. Lemon yellow isn’t a very strong colour and is easily swamped by others. The tree copse was begun with a dark mix of alizarin and thalo blue, allowing it to dry before adding the summery greens on top.

Sculpting clouds with off-white shades is always the interesting part. I often use a palette knife for this but the painting isn’t very big so I stuck with the brush. The work was set aside for a week for a final assessment; but unfortunately I didn’t get to quite finishing it.

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