Painting for September 21

Face study no.13 – oil on panel, 6″ x 8″

This one kicked my butt.  But GOOD.

I was feeling confident (read: cocky) after my painting yesterday, and seeing as how we’re enjoying the very last of the warm weather here in Montreal, I thought that I might as well take advantage of being able to open the windows and crank out another oil painting.

And I worked, and slaved, and struggled, and cursed the day I ever decided to paint a portrait with hair (my nemesis!!!).  And after great effort… it turned a corner, and it came out alright.  Oh sure, there are parts that look too much like a “painting” (very obvious large brushstrokes where the unfriendly reality of oil paints reared its ugly head – i.e. you can’t paint pale over dark and get the highlight effect you’re looking for, at least not in one sitting .  I swear, oil paints should simply be renamed “Can’t Undo” paints), but I’m pretty happy with it.

(Oh, who am I kidding?  I’m RELIEVED, and that’s the truth of it!  Daily Painting may be all about the journey and not the destination, but… at the end of the day, I really, really, REALLY wanted a pretty picture!)



Painting for September 14

Face Study no.8 – oil on panel, 6″ x 8″

I think I’ve come to the end of my very brief love affair with oil paints.  I feel like we were pressured into dating by well-meaning mutual friends, had an astonishingly great second date, and then the whole thing just fell apart soon afterwards and we realized we were better off as friends (I think you still owe me money, though).  I wonder if acrylics will take me back…

In all seriousness, it’s not as if I don’t like this painting (poor photography aside – fresh oils are a bitch to photograph).  It’s just… lacking in oomph.  And maybe it’s a little overcooked.


Painting for September 13

This one’s a-goin’ in the garbage, yes sirree!

Well, it had to happen eventually: I finally conducted an experiment that ended up being a near-total failure.  This one definitely put the PAIN in painting.

We have two bottles of oil (both Holbein products) that go with our Holbein water-soluble oil paints.  The first one contains linseed oil (which I have used with some success), but the other contains a darker liquid, and it’s called “Painting Oil Medium – Water Soluble Blending Oil”.  This confused me somewhat because that sounded an awful lot like what linseed oil was supposed to do.  Were these products interchangeable, then?  Short answer: NO.

First of all, even with proper ventilation, this stuff REALLY stinks… which kind of defeats the whole point of using non-toxic water-soluble oil paints, no?  Secondly, it didn’t deliver on its promise of being a blending oil.  Oh sure, it extended the paint somewhat, at first… and then it started to clot and gunk up on my palette.  Behold the beautiful results above!

Anyways, between the smell and the clumping, I ended up rushing through the painting.  My only goal was to approximate a portrait, then get it downstairs to off-gas in my garage as quickly as possible.

Oh, did I mention that I chose to paint on an ultra-smooth panel?  Well, guess what?  I now know that oil paint doesn’t like being scraped across ultra-smooth panels!  Who knew?

On the plus side, I do like the unfinished clothing and the eggshell white background.

Painting for September 12

Face Study no.7
Face Study no.7 – oil on panel, 6″ x 8″

I must be a sucker for punishment because I opted to try another oil painting tonight.  Overall, the results are much better, and unlike the last one (which I pretty much SOAKED in linseed oil – because what do I know about oil painting, right?), this painting might actually dry sometime this century!

What chuffs me about this painting:

  • it kinda reminds me of a mid-century pin-up

What bums me about this painting:

  • the hair is a little too unfinished, but maybe I should’ve thought of that before I chose to copy a picture of a woman with wild hair, and so much of it!

List some teachable moments:

  • don’t expect oil colour and acrylic colour to behave the same way!  Maybe it’s just the brand I use, but I really hate their cadmium red (to be fair, it is a cadmium red hue).  It’s a fluffy, candy red that I find very difficult to control.
  • still trying to figure out how to make a brilliant white highlight with oils.  If anyone has any tips, please share!!

Anything else to share with the class?

  • I listened to a collection of Stars tracks on CBC Radio 3 while I painted this.  Just FYI.


Painting for September 10

Face Study no.5
Face Study no.5 – oil on panel, 6″ x 8″

Face Study no.5 – oil on panel, 6″ x 8″

We have a set of Holbein Duo Water-Soluble Oils that have been sitting around since, oh, forever.  I decided to give them a go even though I have practically ZERO experience with oil paints.  You can see where this is going…

I should ‘fess up right now that today is my husband’s birthday, and at this moment, I am full of roast beef, wine, sweet potato, wine, chocolate cake, and wine.  Also, wine.  Talk about the WORST time to close yourself up in a small room and fiddle with art supplies that give off headache-inducing fumes.   But, oh… I SO wanted to get that fat, buttery, wet-in-wet oil paint look.

And I kinda, sorta, in some way succeeded… I think.. maybe?  There are parts where there’s clearly too much linseed oil, and I didn’t approach the picture with much confidence and it shows.  Perhaps it’s just a question of more practice… and nose plugs… ok, and maybe less wine.

What I’m happy with:

  • I’m just thankful that the painting is not a big blob of formless goo

What I’m less happy with:

  • believe it or not, the whole wet-in-wet thing got REALLY ANNOYING REALLY FAST.  After the first few confident strokes, it was a real letdown to realize that any little accidental smudge after that meant that you’d have to do the whole area over again.  And how the Hell do you put white highlights on a surface that’s so slippery?

What I learned with this painting:

  • that I really, really, REALLY love having control and painting this way with oils gives you as much control as herding stoned cats.