Agecroft Hall and Sunken Garden / underpainting / oil

on a violet tinted canvas

on a violet tinted canvas

I mixed up 3 shades of blue gray for my underpainting, so I could plan my lights and shadows. I decided to use cool grays for this because when I go over it with layers of warm glazes, they will visually lift off the underpainting. It’s fun to work on a violet tint. If you want to experience”lift” you should try it. The violet is kind of transparent and seems to rub off on your hands, even if it’s dry. You can tell when you paint on top of it that it’s coming right through the underpainting colors. That’s ok, because as I’m building up layers on top of the violet, I can totally kill the violet if I want to, or I can let it show through in places. I like when it shows through. I don’t know if others can see it in the end, or if I’m the only one who sees it because I put it there. But the violet continues to influence the glazes on top. If I let it show through in the shadows, it will be muted violet, not VIOLET!! haha. You know what I mean.

It’s a fun color theory experiment, and it works.

Under the Weeping Cherry / oil

weeping cherry

Welcome to my secret hideout!

I’m not the only kid who likes this tree. I was sitting on a root mixing up my colors and saw a boy come over to the outside of the tree. He was probably around 8, I guess. He stuck his face in a big clump of flowers and shook his head around in it. A lot of petals fell and he watched them come down. Then he left and rejoined his group. I don’t know if he saw me through the branches, or not.

I thought it was pretty cool, the kid loves nature too.

This painting went through a lot of changes. You can see the process in the photos below, stripping off the layers all the way back to my underpainting, with some talk about the old school ways of  painting, which is glazes painted in the couch, with Maroger Medium.  I’ve looked at this painting for weeks now, and can’t decide about it. I need fresh eyes to tell me what you see. IMG_1641

This photo shows the white flowers painted on, with the tree and branches still in the underpainting phase. I had to finish the background before the tree bloomed, because the white flowers should be on top of the background colors. And then the branches are on top of the flowers.  I started weeks ago, because this tree blooms fast, then it’s over in a few days and covered with green leaves. So my background was dry before I put the white flower glazes on top of it.IMG_1639

This photo shows the background finished with some lines painted in to plan my branches coming down. I wanted the viewer to be able to see some of the background through the branches. That’s why I need fresh eyes to look at this. I know what’s in the background, because I painted it. Can the viewer see the steps, pink trees and Daffodils? This painting is all about the Weeping Cherry, though, so, I planned to cover a lot of  the background. IMG_1635

This is my underpainting in the complimentary colors of what I planned to use. It’s on a violet tinted canvas, which is influencing the colors. The part I wanted to be green grass, I underpainted in green’s complimentary color, which is red. I used a brownish red. And the ground under the tree, I wanted to make  a warm brown in the light and gray in the shadows, so I underpainted in with green. I underpainted the sky in a peachy orange. The violet is showing through. You can see where I scribbled some shadows under the tree with charcoal, but I wasn’t happy with that, at this stage, and changed my shadows later.

Horse VS Candy / oil

The horse won this standoff because I ate the candy.

The horse won this standoff because I ate the candy.

This is color theory experiment #3 on a violet ground, and using complimentary colors for my underpainting.

The scary part was the reflections. I had to fake it. I worked on this painting for weeks and had to do the reflections last. So I was nervous I might mess it up at the end after spending all that time on it. I just had to challenge myself and if it didn’t work out, try again.

horse vs candy, glazes

You can see the layers of paint stripped off all the way down to my underpainting in the photos below. And a photo of my actual still life.

This pic shows the candy dish underpainted in complimentary colors. The M&Ms I wanted to be orange are blue here, and the M’s I wanted to finish blue are orange here, etc. You can see the underpainting for the horse in this shot too. I wanted him to be a reddish brown, so I blocked in his shape with greeninsh black. Green and red being vs candy, more glazes

In this photo you can see the underpainting of the checkered tablecloth in green, because I wanted it to be red check. After I painted those diamonds in, I thought they should be on more of an angle. So when it was dry, I drew new lines on top of this with charcoal and painted my red checks on top.

This also shows my Begonia and background finished.

The flower pot is underpainted in a cool gray because I planned on using warm colors in the reflections.

horse vs candy underpainting

Here you see the underpainting of the Begonia in the complimentary colors of the leaves directly on the violet tint. And you can see the underpainted warm gray background, because I wanted the background to be cool gray when it was finished. Even gray has a complimentary gray. If you want your grays to vibrate, or if you want your grays to be pearly, this is the way to do it. Practice mixing warm and cool grays and use them on different background colors.still life set up

A lot of the violet lifted at this stage, even though it was dry to the touch.

It seems like the violet tint makes all the colors lift through the glazes more. I think I can see the violet right through 5 layers of glazes, but I’m not sure if other people see the violet tint in the finished painting.


Here’s a shot of my still life set up in my living room. (good thing I don’t paint from photos, cause this wouldn’t work hahahah)

That’s my cheat sheet tablecloth with the red checks. I wanted to do a red checkered tablecloth under my still life, but the fabric has small checks, and I wanted to make larger checks so it would be easier. Then I could see I needed the cheat sheet tablecloth because the curved pot makes the lines of the reflections curve too. I couldn’t imagine how to draw it without painting a section of it on a scrap board and putting it under the pot.

the Dark Horse Unfettered / oil

color theory experiment #2

color theory experiment #2

If you’d like to see the process of layering oildarkhorse glazes paint in glazes, see the photos below, stripping off the layers all the way back to my underpainting.

This step shows the horse’s head moved higher on his neck than my model. And he’s now underpainted in reddish brown.

I’m calling the foreground grass finished at this point. I had a devil of a time with it.  It was difficult to mix the right color, and one day I put a glaze over the grass of a more yellowish tan and later, wasn’t sure if it looked ok.  So I left it overnight to decide the next morning. When I got up the next day, that color looked sooooo bad on there, I almost went back to bed. hahahahahhaha So I used turp on a paper towel and wiped the offending tan color off before it was too dry, and tried shades of green again, which looked better. That’s one thing I like about painting this way. You have time to make corrections, and you can totally redo a large area.darkhorse, glazes

This photo shows the sky and background vegetation finished.

The foreground grass is still too choppy, but ok in the showing of depth, because I grayed it up a little behind the horse, and didn’t gray the green in the foreground.

I don’t know how much you can see on your computer, but that paint is on there thick.

This is my 2nd layer of glazes on the sky. I painted it on with brushes, then went back in with my palette knife to blend the edges between the colors a little. The palette knife made a texture like icing a cake. I left the texture in it.

Then for the background vegetation, I mixed up a neutral medium gray. a tan with gray, and reddish gray, and painted on blobs of each color. Then came back in with my palette knife and scratched lines through the colors to make a grassy or tree like texture. Some of the violet ground shows through.

I went to green on the foreground  from the reddish brown at this stage. Totally flopping the spectrum on the grass. Hoping that makes the green nice and bright.

darkhorse, glazes

This photo shows one layer of glazes in pink and blue on the sky, and one layer of glazes in reddish brown on the foreground. You can see a stripe of gray behind  the horse.

When I did the glazes on the sky, I painted into the horse’s head with my sky colors. I almost obliterated the whole head. Also I cut into the horse’s body with sky colors. Not a problem. I wiped off some of the paint so I could estimate where his head should be. It took the green off all the way back to the violet tint.

So, at this point, I have a green horse, that I want to finish as reddish. And a reddish brown ground that I want to finish green. Both the horse and the ground are painted in the complimentary colors of the finished colors I wanted.

The violet tint on the canvas shows through a lot at this point. Even when I’m finished, and the paint is thick layers, I still think the violet is influencing the way the colors show up.darkhorse, glazes

This photo shows my horse underpainted in green. After I finished the underpainting, I decided to move the horse’s head up to a more natural position, which means, this is going to get painted over. You can see the violet tint on my canvas. I couldn’t wait to kill the violet, so I went over the sky area with a neutral gray. Some violet is showing through. And it makes the neutral gray look greenish.

I think this color experiment came out better than my 1st try with the horses I called Wild and Free. I’m going to try the violet tinted canvas for one more painting.

Wild and Free / oil

on the open range

on the open range

This is my first color theory experiment.  The post from last week shows my canvas with the violet tint and violet underpainting of the horses. If the color theory works, and I make my horses palominos, they should visually pop off the canvas, because violet and yellow are complimentary colors. I tried mixing yellow ochre tints and shades to get the right color. Then I wiped it off and tried a glaze of cadmium yellow tints and shades. That didn’t look right either. So I went back to the yellow ochre with brown and gray tints and shades. Mixing colors seemed more complicated than usual on the violet.

That’s one good thing about painting” in the couch”. You paint the medium on the dry canvas and paint the color on top of the medium. The medium “couches” the paint. If I mix a color and think it’s ok, then look at it after working on it, and say, oh no, I can just wipe off the bad color without destroying my dry layer underneath, which wasn’t too far off.

About the violet paint under it all, strange painting experience. It takes for ever to dry. The violet lifts when you put the next glazes on top of it. I like the color showing through in the sky and background.

Another thing about this painting that made it seem weird to me was that I primed the canvas first by putting layers of Gesso and sanding in between. I didn’t prime a canvas since leaving YAA. The canvases you buy have one layer of Gesso and there is tooth from the canvas causing drag on the paintbrush. When you prime the canvas, it’s so smooth. I’m used to the drag from the weave of the canvas. When I painted this, the paint peaked like a soft serve ice cream cone. The Alvi’s Maroger Medium holds that peak. I wanted to flatten it with a dry brush, but it still came out with more texture in the paint.

Results from my experiment:

Mixing yellow was difficult for the violet ground.

Priming the canvas makes the paint come off the brush in a different way.

It takes forever to dry, and seems like the glazes went on thick and heavily textured.

There’s more for me to process with this experiment. I need to try it again with different colors on violet.

underpainting / spillpond / Meadow Farm

underpainting / spillpond

I worked about 40 hours on this painting. That’s the time I spent mixing colors and painting, but not including the time I spent cleaning my brushes and palette, or packing and unpacking my supplies, or the time driving back and forth.

I work for two or three hours at a time in plein air depending on the weather. Since I’m not rushing, my concentration is always fresh. I think working on it every day for a few hours, and taking my time helps me be sure there’s no weak places in my painting. You don’t need to see every step, because a lot of days I’m just correcting what I did the day before. I hope you can compare these four photos and see the layers of glazes.

Spillpond at Meadow Farm / finished

some talk about drawing lines with a skinny brush

some talk about drawing lines with a skinny brush

If I want to draw skinny lines with paint, first I mix drops of turp into the paint with my palette knife until the paint flows off the brush. But not too much turp or the pigment will be too diluted.

Here’s the easy way to paint skinny lines : Scoop up the runny paint with the palette knife. Hold the palette knife with one hand and the paint brush with the other hand while you stand at the easel. Then you don’t have to keep reaching back to your palette and mixing in the turp. You only have to move the brush a few inches back to reload paint which is already the right consistency. Then you can scribble away with the little brush much easier.