Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Starts and Finishes



Over the last couple of months I have gotten several emails asking questions about various aspects of my painting process. Since I don't have a small painting to post today, I thought it might be a good time to write about that... if anyone happens to be interested. First, I should say that my painting process has changed pretty radically over the last year, so what I say here isn't something I've been doing a long while or am even sure is the way I should be doing it. Previously and for many years , I worked in a fairly direct way- not exactly alla prima (except outdoors) but definitely direct. Now, I am painting in a more indirect method which involves using layers of paint - and more passages of transparent paint. So here is a typical lay in using a color made by Vasari called Shale. It is the workhorse dark on my palette- I like it because its transparent and has a warm violet undertone. I used to thin my paint with OMS for this stage, but now I often use an almost dry brush technique to put this first layer down because it will show through in portions of the finished painting. This is also why I like a linen with a little bit of texture so that I can also use that texture to describe elements of the landscape, like here, where the texture of the canvas and the drybrush help describe the field. I also use a rag to wipe out lights and a palette knife to scrape out finer lights.

Here is the next stage of the painting where more transparent layers have been added to the trees and also the field. When you are planning to use layers of glazes you have to be very careful not to get things too dark too quickly. Unlike a more direct method - where you can always adjust the value of a shape with another coat of opaque paint- if you want to keep that area transparent, you have to get it exactly right from the start (which is always a good idea anyway!). In addition, because successive glazes will darken the glazed area, you have to start a bit lighter than you plan to end up. I will also use a scumble occasionally( a thinned translucent layer of paint, usually containing white or some other light opaque mixture) to lighten an area, or to soften edges and create atmosphere. I use Liquin as a medium. I also use it between layers to "oil out" the painting- that is to bring the colors and values back to their original state so another layer can be accurately judged against what has already been laid down. Here, the opaque portions of the painting, the water and sky, haven't been laid in yet but the light value of the canvas "stands in" for that value. Using transparent paint in the darks and opaque paint in the lights is pretty standard procedure, but I like to mix it up sometimes, using mostly transparent paint for the entire piece like here or transparent paint in some of the lights, like here.

Here is the finished painting. The sky and water have been added with opaque paint (Naples yellow and Gamblin Brown Pink + a touch of white) and then glazed over with several transparent layers. More layers have been added to the trees and ground plane, creating what I hope is a rich color harmony. This painting is available at Ernest Fuller Fine Art in Denver, Colorado.

8 comments:

Joan DaGradi said...

Deborah, thanks for posting this. It's really interesting to see and listen to other's talk about their 'process'.
I do love shale, too....a great color.
The frame suits the painting very well.
Lovely image! Great job.

Dean H. said...

Thanks for sharing the process, Deborah...fascinating. I haven't used Liquin in quite awhile...may have to re-acquaint myself with it.

Dean

christerical said...

Deborah,
This painting is lovely, thank you for explaining your process. I found your blog from the top 101 blogs for artists. I would love to see a video of your process as well. BTW I love the painting but I'm not so sure about the frame, the scrolling on the frame takes attention away from the beauty of the painting.
Sincerely
Chris Bolmeier

Deborah Paris said...

Hi Joan. Thanks for commenting- I do love Shale- and Vasari paints in general.- see response about the frame below

Hi Dean. I know some artists really dislike Liquin but it works for me- good for glazing but also keeping the paint film a little glossy which I like. Thanks for visiting!


Hi Chris. Thanks very much for visiting and commenting! Its interesting that I got 2 comments on the frame (one positive and one negative). I think frames are an integral part of the presentation of the work. I actually painted this piece with this frame in mind- thinking that the simplicity of the composition could handle the surface decoration of the frame. I also liked the tonality of the frame as a support to the color harmony of the piece. I have been using a a black frame with a gold stencil design on a lot of my work recently and have gotten good feedback and sales on that work, but I realize that this is pretty subjective. I'd love to hear comments from others on that topic.

Sheila Vaughan said...

I can't believe how beautiful that painting is Deborah

Kim said...

wonderful post Deborah...
and thanks for explaining your process ...
I don't know what I would do without my liquin.... :)
your choice of frame with this is perfect and definitely is an integral part of this lovely work...
I know I couldn't live without my framers either who have just the right knack for choosing complimentary frames...

Katherine said...

Thanks for the explanation Deborah - it's always good to hear how people work

Deborah Paris said...

Thanks Sheila- I appreciate your comment!

Hi Kim. Thanks for your comment on the frame - its bit of a risk, I guess, but I do like something that is " of a piece with the work".
Thanks for visiting!


Hello Katherine. I know I am always fascinated with other artists' methods, studios, influences, etc., so I hope this was interesting. Thanks for stopping in!