Tag: oil painting technique

paintings of women

Magical realism in portraiture: my painting process

Hello friends,

I love painting portraits!  Although I see human anatomy as the most challenging to master, I’m strongly pulled by this subject to depict the beautiful complexity of a human spirit. I paint from real people who hurt, suffer, love, betray, care and ultimately encourage me to become a better person. I’m drawn to faces with enigmatic eyes: I believe in capturing the soul’s essence through my art. I paint in magic realism style that’s sometimes called pop-surrealism. It’s a departure from the surrealism style since I don’t paint dreams, rather I paint the reality with a surreal touch.

With every new artwork I’m presented with a new challenge and a discovery. Although I often work from my photographs, drawing from life is paramount to understanding the human form and the anatomy. That acquired knowledge could be applied to drawing from pictures, not the other way around. I put the information in that is taken out by the photography.

I love color, and I feel I’m finally getting closer to understanding how color mixing works in oil painting. I have more control over my process and I’m able to create color harmonies that resonate within me and help me describe a special atmosphere in my art.

This short video gives an overview of my painting process: how I create an image, work with the model and paint in layers.
The second part of the video shows a quick glazing technique you can start using today, if you paint. 🙂

Join the art student club to receive a free demonstration! Click here: http://eepurl.com/bIJlGf
Join the art student club to receive a free demonstration! Click here: http://eepurl.com/bIJlGf

Check out my art and tutorials at my website www.VeronicasArt.com and don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE there!

http://eepurl.com/b-vEXP
http://eepurl.com/b-vEXP

 

what are the best brushes for painting?

Brushes to start painting in oils or acrylics and how to care for them

Admit it, if you’ve started painting recently you’ve noticed that it’s a challenge to get good brushes for your art. They either don’t last very long, or you get the wrong kind buying them online. Let’s look at their properties first to understand what you need to have in your art box.

Brushes differ in size, shape, and type of bristles.

 

Size

The higher the number the larger the brush you get. For example #0000-0 brushes are for super fine detail, # 2-4 brushes are for small work, # 6-10+ for general application of paint.

Shape

There are rounds, flats, liners, chisel tips, filberts, and fans. The shape of a brush determines the stroke you can make with it. The rounds  have a fine point and are good for small, detailed application of paint, flats are for a large coverage of paint or to make a wide stroke; fans are good for gentle blending of the edges and for creation of some textures like tree foliage. My favorites are the filberts because they give me two distinct strokes. Depending on the rotation of my brush, it can give me either a flat stroke or a thin, fine line that’s great for defining and maintaining straight edges.

Types of brushes

There are very soft watercolor brushes and stiffer, oil/acrylic painting brushes. In general, watercolor brushes are too soft to maintain a point filled with oil paint, but watercolor 1″ flats are great for blending large areas of paint right after a painting session ( it’s a brush with a transparent handle in the picture).

There are three main kinds of oil/acrylic brushes: the bristle ones, the synthetic ones, and a blend of synthetic and sable hairs. Both the bristle and the synthetic ones are necessary for oil or acrylic painting.

The bristle brushes ( shown at the top of the picture) are always used in a first, rough layer of painting to put paint on canvas and to mass out shapes. It’s difficult to paint the first layer with the synthetic ones on canvas, because they are too soft for this step and don’t spread the paint around easily. Use a bit of Gamsol with your first paint layer to dilute and to move paint around a canvas. I find that major manufacturers produce similar bristle brushes that don’t differ much in quality. I would avoid the cheapest ones though because they shed hairs a lot that get embedded into the wet paint, if you don’t take them out of your artwork during painting.

The synthetic brushes are often used in subsequent applications of paint. With each layer your painting becomes more refined just like the brushes. I use #2 round and #2-4 filbert for most work and #6-8 to paint larger areas.

I find that this 5-pack synthetic brush set works best for beginners: http://www.jerrysartarama.com/discount-art-supplies/brushes-and-palette-knives/oil-and-acrylic-brushes/robert-simmons-oil-and-acrylic-brushes/simply-simmons-oil-and-acrylic-brushes-wallet-sets.htm . It has different brush types to try out. Also, the Robert Simmons brushes’ quality is OK for its price. They don’t last forever, but perform quite well in comparison to other more expensive brushes I’ve tried so far. I also buy them separately, if I need a particular size or a tip.

For fine detail I also use a #0 liner “scepter gold II”, a sable/synthetic blend by Windsor & Newton.

If you want your brushes to keep their shape, it’s not only the quality of the hairs to pay attention to, but also how you wash them.

Brush care

If you want your brushes to last, take good care of them. Squeeze all the unused paint out of your brush, using a paper towel. Then use a solvent like Gamsol to swish them around in a glass jar, and then wash them out with a soap bar and warm water. I skip the solvent step most of the time because of the two reasons: one is a plain health precaution and another one is care for my brush hairs. The solvent dilutes the paint and damages the hairs, in my opinion.

I wipe the water off of every brush, and rest them flat on a paper towel, so the excess water doesn’t run underneath the ferrules, damaging them.

One more thing. Brushes wear out a lot faster working on textured canvases. Use smooth panels or slightly textured canvases to keep your brushes like new.

Presto!

 

Visit my website www.veronicasart.com  to see new art. The tutorials page has one oil painting demonstration in both a pdf file and a video found here.

 

Join the art student club to receive a free demonstration! Click here: http://eepurl.com/bIJlGf
Join the art student club to receive a free demonstration! Click here: http://eepurl.com/bIJlGf

 

 

how to draw highlights

How to draw realistic highlights in graphite, colored pencil and oil paint

When we look at realist paintings, we try to figure out how an artist manages to achieve such level of realism in his or her art.

There are three elements that make drawings and paintings look three-dimensional on a flat surface:

  • the drawing accuracy of shapes
  • clear understanding how the light turns the form
  • and the correct placement of highlights on objects, fabric and people.

In this post I cover how to see and place highlights, using various media.

 What is highlight and how do you find it?

Highlights are the lightest lights or the whitest spots you find on your objects. Always analyze the light direction and the light source. Is it coming from the left or right, top or bottom? You’d find the lightest areas on all objects being the closest to that light source.

The distribution of light on objects

 

The placement of highlights on your object is often logical. Analyze the light direction. If it comes from the left corner, then your highlights would be on the object’s left hand side. If the light comes from above, then the highlights accumulate on the object’s top.

If it’s a vase, a cup or a bottle directional highlights would appear on the object’s surface where the object usually curves or changes direction.

You may see secondary lights in your set up as well. Usually they’re light but not as strong as the highlights. Make sure they remain secondary and don’t compete with your major few highlights. This way you create a hierarchy of the light and shadow.

Aphrodite plaster cast | Here the light comes from the left, illuminating half of the face. Therefore all highlights remain on the left side of the face.

 

How to place highlights in graphite drawing

To draw the highlights on your objects, shade over the area lightly with a hard pencil (2H) and then use the kneaded eraser to pull the highlights with it. This eraser doesn’t leave any residue and gives a perfect soft edge around the highlights. Therefore, the highlights look natural, rather than outlined.

A study of the David’s eye, 9×12″ graphite on white Strathmore drawing paper. The highlights’re pulled with the kneaded eraser to make the whitest areas.

 

portrait drawing in pencil
Believing that the impossible is possible, graphite on paper, 11×14.

The highlights’re pulled with the kneaded eraser on her cheek, neck, ear and in and around the eye.

 

How to place highlights in colored pencil drawing

On white paper:

In colored pencil drawing on white paper, I preserve the highlights by carefully reserving the white space around each highlight with a light colored pencil, using light peach or cream color. So, the whiteness of the paper is the highlight itself.

Highlights always stay free of any shading. Don’t use white colored pencil to color your highlights! You will lose the luminosity. This technique is similar to watercolor painting where you paint around your highlights. However, there are times when I shade with the white colored pencil around the highlight itself to soften the edges, and to transition into the light.

Still life with a vase, 9×12 inches, lightfast colored pencils on paper, available for purchase.

This drawing was done on white, Bristol smooth paper with the lightest areas remaining free of any shading to preserve luminosity.

On colored paper:

If I draw on colored paper, I place the highlight by mixing two colored pencils together. The first one gives me either warm or cool undertone and the second one is the white colored pencil itself. Usually I use a very heavy pencil pressure  to shade over the space with white.

white-fabric-
A study of fabric, 9×12 inches, lightfast colored pencils on Stonehenge paper. Here the light comes from the left. Therefore the lightest part of the fabric with its highlights remains on the left side.

 

This is a drawing detail completed on orange paper. It has the white highlights placed over the light yellow and light blue colors.

How to place highlights in oil or acrylic painting

Even the brightest highlights have a little bit of color in them. Analyse the light to see if they are warm (yellowish-orange) or cool (bluish-greenish), and add a touch of color to your white paint. Titanium white is a cool, dull color by itself. That’s why the beginner paintings have a lot of white in them, but no sense of the light, which is created with glazes, scumbling, and layering rather than with lots of chalky, white paint.

David’s eye with sea shells and white fabric, 16×20″, oil on canvas, available for purchase

To learn more about the distribution of light, reflections and reflective surfaces, you can buy my digital book here: http://veronicasart.com/product/creative-techniques-colored-pencil-graphite-oil-painting-digital-art-book/

 

Join the art student club to receive a free demonstration! Click here: http://eepurl.com/bIJlGf
Join the art student club to receive a free demonstration!

How to paint still life step by step: oil painting techniques

If your goal is to learn painting in oil or acrylics realistically, you have to paint from life. For that artists set up a still life under unchanging, controlled light in front of their easel. The artist studies the light and shade by developing a complete drawing and then transfers the outlines onto a canvas or panel to paint. Because it’s a controlled set up, the light remains unchanged and the artist can work on his/her  painting almost indefinitely.

1. Draw from life

If your goal is to learn painting realistically, please draw from life as much as possible.  You can’t skip this step! Numerous problems can be resolved by learning to see the shapes and proportions, by designing compositions, and by shading your objects from life. Later you can partially substitute life drawing for painting from your pictures. Just be aware that pictures distort reality. We respond to the information in front of us very differently when we paint from life.

2. Make a shadow box

oil painting techniques shadow box

To set up your still life, make a shadow-box out of black foam board (see the pic above). The color of your background can be changed at any time by placing some fabric, colored carton, or any colored paper you like to paint as your background color. The size of the shadow box can be changed as well, depending on your space and the size of your still life.

Put a direct light source (a lamp) next to the shadow-box ( it’s located to the left here), and play with the light, looking at changes in the cast shadows and highlights on objects. It’s much easier to paint objects with dramatic light as opposed to even, diffused light. While the diffused light can bring a different mood with soft and subtle shadows creating peaceful atmosphere, it’s much harder to control and paint these subtle shifts in color and tone for beginners.

If you have no time to build the shadow box because you itch to draw and paint now, make a set up with a simplified background space that cuts off all the unnecessary information behind your still life. In the photo below you see a small box placed behind the starfish that’s covered with some fabric.

3. Preliminary drawing

It’s much easier to begin painting when the artist has done the prep work. Work out the outlines on a piece of sketch paper of the same size as your canvas. When the outline looks correct, transfer it onto canvas using either white or black transfer paper with a pen (image 2 & 3).

 

oil painting techniques step by step

4. Creating the underpainting (indirect painting)

The strip of grays represents the value scale. It’s mixed from 3/4 ivory black+1/4 warm brown with equal increments of titanium white.

After you have transferred your drawing, check for mistakes one more time. Fix them in 2H graphite pencil. Now you’re ready to paint.

Indirect painting means creating an underpainting in one color first and then layering paint in color. The underpainting can be done on black-and-white called grisaille, in green tones or in warm browns. Here I’m showing you the grisaille method of painting. The grisaille method is useful for still life painting and although many old masters painted the figures the same way, I find the gray underpainting to be too cold for the depiction of skin tones. I have a YouTube video titled “keeper” that shows this method of painting in detail.

Mix the value scale (titanium white or lead white+ ivory black+ a touch of brown to warm up the black) with a palette knife. No color is added at this point. Begin painting your objects using the grays. Focus on shadows and paint them first, then create transitional values leading to the lights. By painting in grays you focus on tones/values as opposed to color. As each color has its own value scale, you train yourself to convert the colors into the values. This is not easy to grasp and requires practice.

Let your first layer dry. Complete the second pass of black-and-white painting, refining edges and tones.

 

5. Painting in color

Paint in color by glazing and layering paint over the grisaille layers. I usually have 2-3 color layers in my painting. I finish up by adding texture in my last layer.

oil painting techniques still life with starfish and peacock feather

6. Varnishing

After the gazillion of hours spent on my painting, it’s finished! I let it dry for 6-12 months before varnishing the oil painting.

 

Interested to learn more?

If you’re interested to learn more about the indirect method of painting step by step, glazing and color layering, you can download my still life painting demonstration in a pdf format and as a video (sold separately.

 

The blue vase demonstration is available for download from my website both as a step-by-step pdf file and a video.

Other step by step demonstrations are available here: