Tag: oil painting

Learn what makes a painting great Video #1 Part 2: Composition, Color, Lines and Emotion

In this video in the series you’ll learn about composition, color, emotion, painting techniques, use of lines, and other artistic elements artists used to produce their greatest works of art. This video will help you understand the qualities of great art, especially painting created before the 20th century.

Feel free to share the video with your friends on Facebook!

You’ll find my video notes below!

 

Jacques-Louis_David_madame recamier
Jacques-Louis David, madame Recamier, 5’9″x7’4″, 1800, the Louvre

Composition

All beauty is the result of fine proportions. – Leon Battista Alberti (1404-1472), architect

Greeks were the first to invent and to use the mathematical proportion, linear perspective and the concept of divine proportion and scale in art and architecture (the Pantheon). Because of a conversion to Christianity, these postulates were abandoned in the Middle Age Europe only to reappear in the Italian Renaissance art several centuries later.

Man is the measure of all things becomes the mantra of the Renaissance artists in the 1400-1500s as they explore the concept of rational thought by creating art that’s three-dimensional, visually balanced, mathematically proportioned and color unified. (The principles of the mathematical perspective were devised by Filippo Brunelleschi).

Composition becomes central to the creation of representational art.

Pentagram
pentagon and decagon in a circle veronica winters video series
Pentagram and decagon in a circle

In this diagram you see the fundamental principle of geometric division of space or the divine proportion. A symbol of unity, the circle holds a pentagon inside with the 5-pointed star of Pythagoras drawn inside it. Renaissance artists used this model to place their figures in a visually pleasing composition. (Source: Rhythmic Form in Art by Irma Richter, Dover Publications)

Raphael Ansidei Madonna pentagon composition, veronica winters video series
Raphael, Ansidei Madonna, 1505-1507 | pentagon composition

 

The school of Athens, Raphael, veronica winters video series
The school of Athens, Raphael, 1510, fresco in Stanza della Segnatura, Vatican, Rome | pentagon composition

This painting represents the exaltation of rational thought. The artist paints his contemporaries as models to represent ancient Greek philosophers, such as Plato and Aristotle standing right in the center of the composition. We see Leonardo as Plato, Bramante as Euclid, Raphael as Apelles and Michelangelo as Heraclitus. Raphael incorporates the architecture of the room by creating a balanced composition that proportionally relates to the interior. The fresco has 5 circles. The height of figures and their placement corresponds to the mathematical divisions seen in the picture.

Also see:

Poussin (French), “A dance to the music of time” (pentagon composition)

Besides using pentagons, artists create symmetrical and unsymmetrical balance with triangular compositions, the golden section rule, and several other devices.

Masaccio_ the holy trinity perspective
Masaccio (Italian), The Holy Trinity, fresco in Santa Maria Novella, Florence, 1428  | perfect linear perspective

In this painting while the iconography is standard, the unusual part is its perfect linear perspective. It marks Masaccio as the first Renaissance painter who achieved visual realism of the figures receding in space naturally with correct foreshortening.

Adam's Creation, Sistine Chapel_ceiling'_by_Michelangelo
Michelangelo (Italian), “The creation of Man,” Sistine Chapel, Vatican, Rome

In this artwork, the curving S-shape creates an equal movement and balance of shapes on both sides of the painting.

Also see:

Caravaggio (Italian), “The inspiration of St. Matthew” 1602. This painting features the S-shape design as well.

 

rogier_van_der_weyden_descent from the cross composition
Rogier van der Weyden, “Descent from the cross”

 

We can see examples of triangular compositions in religious art where a cross divides the space in half or is placed at a diagonal. In this painting the artist arranges the figures in a way that mimic the shape of the cross. The diagonal of Christ repeats itself in Mary’s shape.

virgin and child van eyck composition
Jan van Eyck, “The Virgin and Child” | triangular composition

The triangular shape was a popular element to design a composition. It creates balance with a line falling from the apex of the pyramid diving the picture in half.

claude lorraine_the embarcation of st. ursula golden section
Claude Lorraine (French), “Embarkation of St. Ursula,” National Gallery, London | the golden section

Lorraine consciously designed his paintings following the rules of thirds or the “golden section,” which is widely used today by photographers and artists alike.

Also see:

“Landscape with Ascanius Shooting the Stag of Sylvia,” 1682.

The artist also “framed” his landscapes with trees placed on both sides of a painting to create a circular motion, so a viewer never leaves his picture. He was also a master, creating a complete balance between the light and dark masses of trees, buildings, water and sky.

The Arnolfini marriage
Jan van Eyck, The Arnolfini wedding” 1434, National Gallery, London

The artist strikes an equal balance of shapes around the middle where we see the joint hands.

 

Emotion

Canova, Venus and Adonis, sculpture detail
Canova, Venus and Adonis, sculpture detail

Emotion is the strongest reason for artists to create art and for people to look at it to own it. Art is a visual expression of our soul. We respond to a painting or a sculpture instantly using our feelings as opposed to logic, and that’s what makes us human. Meaningful art helps us connect with our inner life. It confirms a record of our emotions dwelling within our memories. Art is not only a cultural and historical object, but also a remedy that speaks universal language. Artists have a vast emotional landscape to reach deep to convey a story in a meaningful way.  It’s the feeling that draws us into the picture. Because we all have a unique set of experiences, we respond to the art in different ways. Some paintings leave us untouched, while others haunt us with their beauty, melancholy, joy or fear. Painting is a record of  artist’s interior life, and his/her ability to see beauty in both the beautiful and the ugly.

Because feelings can’t be quantified in immediate dollars and cents unlike brand named stuff, many don’t see value in art, think it’s useless, and try to cut funding for school art programs and art organizations. As a consumer driven society we are conditioned to ignore craftsmanship, uniqueness and beauty produced in singular products because a cheaper version of artistic creation is all around us for free on social media, TV, magazines, shop posters, book covers, pillow designs and so on. We see art but we don’t really study it. Only our encounter with the original artwork has that immediate impact, raw emotion that enriches us as human beings.

Images:

Caravaggio, Head of Medusa, oil on canvas, 24×22”, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

(In Greek mythology, the terrible Medusa had the power to turn anyone who looked at her into stone: a power she retained after being killed by Perseus.)

Frans Hals, The Jolly Toper, 1628-30, oil on canvas, 32×26”, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Flaming June, Frederic_Lord_Leighton_(1830-1896)
Sir Frederic Lord Leighton (1830-1896), Flaming June, 47” square, 1895, Puerto Rico

 

Vasnezov Sirin and Alkonost. The song of happiness and sadness
Vasnetzov, The song of joy and sorrow, oil on canvas, 133×250 cm, 1896, The Tretyakov gallery, Moscow
Russian painting vasili perov
Vasily Perov, Trine (Troyka), oil on canvas, 1866

Also see:

Isaak Levitan, Over the Eternal Peace, 1894, oil on canvas, 150x206cm, the Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Ivan Shishkin, Winter, 1890, oil on canvas, 125 x 204 cm, Russian Museum, St. Petersburg

Ivan Shishkin, In the Wild North, 1890, oil on canvas, 161 x 118 cm, Museum of Russian Museum, Kyiv

Edvard Munch, The Scream, 1893, tempera and casein on cardboard, 36×29” (91x74cm), Oslo, Norway

 

Romantics:

Friedrich, two men contemplating the moon
Caspar David Friedrich, two men contemplating the moon | The Met | http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/438417

In this section I’d like to mention the 19th century Romantic Movement. Romanticism grew as a rebellion against the static, cold ideals of the Greco-Roman art, against religion and social order. Romantics were liberals who produced art that excited viewers with emotions, especially the fear and the power of wild, changing Nature as the source of the sublime. Romantics channeled these ideals via painterly movement and color. They wanted to reflect on real life, not some distant ideals. Artists celebrated freedom of creativity that found its support from new patronage of successful entrepreneurs and business class.

The funeral of Atala,1808,Girodet_de_Roussy-Trioson
Anne-Louis Girodet-Trioson, The Funeral of Atala, 1808, oil on canvas, 5’6”x6’10” (1.67×2.10 m), the Louvre, Paris

 

Caspar_David_Friedrich_-the polar sea
German Romantic, Caspar David Friedrich, the Polar Sea (The Wreck of Hope), 1824, oil on canvas, 38×50” Hamburg, Germany

Also see:

Spanish artist Goya (1746-1828), The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters, Los Caprichos, 1798, etching and aquatint, 8×6”, the Met, New York.

He creates horror scenes with monsters and owls, depicts his nightmares that’s said to criticize Spanish society as corrupt and demented. The artist was for the French revolution and against the king of Spain, yet was very popular as a court painter to Charles IV. Late Goya shows highly emotional art, already being a thought after portraitist, painting royalty as individuals with psychological insight into their personalities that lacked idealization on purpose.

Goya, The Family of Charles IV, oil on canvas, 9’2”x11’, Prado Museum, Madrid & the Third of May, 1808, oil on canvas, 8’9”x 13’4”, 1814-15. (In this painting the artist shows the execution of Madrid citizens dying for Liberty).

Swiss painter, Henry Fuseli (1741-1825) painted somewhat erotic, moody and supernatural pictures of dramatic Shakespearean scenes and dreams that ignited fear. In his painting the skill of drawing is given away in favor of emotions and imagination. He painted several variations of the painting The Nightmare, oil on canvas, 102x127cm, Detroit institute of arts

Henry Fuseli (1741-1825) The nightmare. 1790-91 version

Another Neo-Baroque French painter, Gericault (1791-1824) explored human extremes and violent action in his art. He painted people in action with the exuberance and energy of Baroque artists.

Mounted Officer of the Imperial Guard, 1812, oil on canvas, 9’7”x6’4”, the Louvre, Paris. He completed this artwork at just 21 years of age.

Other Romantic artists to check out are Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863) and J.M.W. Turner.

 

Color

1880_Frederic_Leighton_-_Self_portrait
Sir Frederic Leighton, Self-portrait, 1880

We can divide representational art into two opposing groups. One is dominated by the composition design (Michelangelo), and the other by the use of color and light. While thoughtful design stands for rational thought in art, beautiful play of light and color evokes strong feelings.

Those of you who have tried oil painting know how hard it is to achieve color unity. It’s not only the skill of color mixing, but also the artistic vision and sensibility to color. In masterpieces we see hues that interact and support each other. The complexity of a color comes with deliberate color mixing, dragging or glazing of the paint, overlaying, and letting one hue dominate and complement the rest. (Ingres, David, Simon Vouet). The tradition of color descends from Titian to Rubens, to Van Gogh and Picasso. Seurat developed his own scientific color system – pointillism that didn’t get traction among artists, however.

Jacques-Louis_David death of marat
Jacques-Louis David (French), The death of Marat, 1793, neoclassicism  

 

Mary Cassatt, Sleepy baby, pastels on paper, 1910, impressionism 

The Impressionists redefined the use of color, not painting with black in the shadows. Unlike the majority of artists who worked in the studio, the impressionists painted outdoors, capturing the weather conditions at different times of the day. That’s why you see numerous paintings done of the same subject but in various lighting conditions. We can look at Claude Monet’s waterlilies and Edgar Degas’ dancers to understand how artists were interested in atmospheric and light perception of places and people – the impression, rather than the actual copying of details. The impressionists revolted against the Academism and its annual Salon painting competitions to organize their independent shows that exhibited unconventional, colorful art.

In Russia we see a rise of national landscape painting with artists like Shishkin and Kuindzhi who depicted vast, luscious and vivid landscapes of the countryside. Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh and Gauguin become the post-impressionism artists who focus on the spiritual in painting channeling it through color and symbols.

kuindzhi birch grove 1879
Kuindzhi, birch grove, 1879
Arkhip Kuindzhi (1842-1910), the moon night | Impressionism & realism

 

Use of shapes, lines and negative space

michelangelo drawing of Libyan Sibyl
Michelangelo, drawing of Libyan Sibyl

Line is the most vital element in visual art. Contour lines describe form and the initial drawing design. Drawings exist as personal records of artist’s idea and thoughts, having unique handwriting, gesture and energy. Line drawings can be very expressive if an artist varies shape, thickness and completion of the line. Rembrandt’s drawings capture everyday activities in sketchy but confident, almost child-like lines. Drawings of Michelangelo are beautiful studies of models where the lines define the physical anatomy and monumentality of male figures frozen in action. Da Vinci’s drawings perfectly describe the subject with soft, gentle lines reminiscent of the softness we see in his paintings. It’s amazing to see how Ingres describes figures in his hollow drawings of just contour lines with minimal shading. Japanese printmakers, Hiroshige and Hokusai became the two masters of woodblock printing in the country. They exercised great influence onto the Impressionists with their approach to composition design and the simplification of shapes. Hiroshige’s artwork is very linear and creates simplified shapes and patterns with the lines of varied quality.

Hiroshige, “Travelers passing Mount Fuji” woodblock print, 1831, Honolulu
Alphonse Mucha, The precious stones: Topaz, Ruby, Amethyst, Emerald, details, 1900, color lithograph, 26×11” each

The leading Art Nouveau designer and painter, Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939) used geometric shapes, mosaics, and diagonals to create beautiful lithographs of women as idyllic symbols. Czech artist gave birth to his unique “Style Mucha” with his posters of a famed actress Sarah Bernhardt that made him prominent in French Art Nouveau. His use of definitive, contour line is central to his illustrative style.

Austrian artist Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) employs lines, patterns and shapes to create a unique visual experience. His figures are made of patterns with contour and geometric lines defining form.

Gustav Klimt, Tree of Life, 1909

 

As spectators we often don’t pay attention to the artistic use of negative space. Negative space is simply the background you see behind an object. It often affects how we perceive what’s in front of us by carefully controlling the tone, color and shapes in the background space. Let’s look at one of the Spanish realist artists – Cotan who uses the negative space to his advantage.

Juan Sanchez Cotan, Quince, Cabbage, Melon and Cucumber, 1602, oil on canvas, 27×33”, San Diego Museum of Art

Because the Spanish court and the Catholic church employed foreign painters (Titian) in the 16th century Spain, native artists were not popular among the two major patrons, and therefore they were able to develop their still life painting that was nonexistent before the 1590s. Cotan (1561-1627) becomes a pioneer in still life painting. A deeply religious man, he painstakingly arranged simple objects at a curve, juxtaposing bright objects against the dark tones, where rich background reinforces the realism of foreground shapes.

Similarly Caravaggio used the dark background to bring his subjects forward. He defined and mastered chiaroscuro – the balance of light and dark in his paintings. So much so that when a viewer stands in a dark interior of a church he sees abstracted patterns of light and shade. When the light is turned on, the entire painting changes to a story we see in a design. His mastery of color, negative space and contrast play with our perception of reality. (David and Youth bitten by a lizard).

 

Texture, paint and brushwork quality

Jan van Eyck (Dutch), painting detail that shows glazing techniques with seamless brushwork.
Caravaggio, St. John the Baptist. | This painting shows the effect of glazing where color (red) is built up in many layers of thin paint (glazing).

Our eyes travel across canvas to notice the unusual texture and brushwork, or purposefully to see none. Strokes of paint can describe the textures and shapes of fabric, skin and space. They can also generate an emotional response to the subject itself. The artistic ability to do it freely takes years of experimentation and practice, like we see in Sargent’s painting. Sargent’s art has spontaneous brushwork quality that’s actually deliberate and skilled. He was masterful at hitting the right ‘note’ in a single stroke, and when he was not, the artist wiped it off with a rag, and did it again. His paint strokes have relaxed elegance and fluidity.

Traditional methods involve several painting techniques. Here I’d like to mention the glazing techniques used by Ingres and David as well as the impasto method of painting perfected by Rembrandt. Glazing creates depth and sophistication of a color by using thin, transparent layers of paint. The impasto technique creates texture in thick, opaque strokes. These two seemingly opposing methods are often combined together in a single work of art, like we see in the Rembrandt’s paintings that create the glow in his portraits. The Jewish bride.

Jan Van Eyck (Dutch, 1390-1441) was a fundamental figure in northern Europe, the first to perfect the oil painting technique. He had strong interest in optics and light effects to create painstakingly detailed realism. (Ghent Altarpiece, oil on panel, detail). In this kind of art you don’t see any brushwork to convey realism. The artist uses lots of glazes to build up the color.

Rembrandt, the Jewish bride, oil painting detail showing the impasto technique.

Impasto (to put in paste, Italian) is applied thickly on a canvas or panel with a brush or a palette knife that raises the paint surface and makes the strokes visible. Impasto creates textures in clothes, jewelry, and skin that looks like a suggestion of the fabric or skin rather than a direct representation of it. The relief-like surface makes the lights pop more to attract our attention to the focal point. Rembrandt, Velazquez, Titian and Goya used this technique.

A lot of artists use a combination of techniques that include glazing, impasto, scumbling and more that produce different effects like you can see here.

Detail of a painted gown
Alexander Roslin: Marie Suzanne Giroust, 1734-1772, konstnär, gift
Alexander Roslin: Marie Suzanne Giroust, 1734-1772, konstnär, gift med Alexander Roslin.

Action step:

Pick an artwork that you really like, and try to explain why you enjoy looking at it in terms of composition, color, and subject. Practice your understanding of paintings, and your art appreciation will grow exponentially!  Have fun with it!

I hope you’ve enjoyed watching my video and discovered how story, composition, emotion and texture – all contribute to and influence on our perception of the masterpieces. A great painting offers a lot more more than a good composition, realism, or a vibrant color. A great painting gives you an emotional experience, something poetic and spiritual that transcends time and place, and allows you to understand yourself and the world around you!

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Coming up next: Video #2 Contemporary Painting

In my next video you’ll learn what to look for in contemporary art.

Complete video series:

Video #1 Part 1 – Learn what makes a painting great

Video #1 Part 2 – you are here!

Video #2 Contemporary Art – coming soon!

Video #3 How to take care of your art collection – coming soon!

Video #4 How to frame art – coming soon!

Video # 5 Why you don’t need an interior designer to buy and display art in your home – coming soon!

Bibliography:

The Metropolitan Museum of art, http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection

History of Art, 5th edition, H.W. Janson

The gilded age, E. Prelinger

Rhythmic Form in Art by Irma Richter, Dover Publications

Wikipedia & tons of art history classes in college! 🙂

 

Click on the image to subscribe to my art notes and receive a FREE download with my art, inspiration and demonstrations!

 

 

 

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art appreciation: understanding the qualities of great art

Learn what makes a painting great: Video #1 Part 1

In this first video in the series you’ll learn about some of the greatest works of art, art movements, ideas and artistic elements. This video will help you understand and appreciate the qualities of great art, especially painting created before the 20th century. Feel free to share the video with your friends on Facebook!

Video Notes:
Overview:

Art Movements 0:42

Art Patrons 1:49

Art Education & female artists 2:21

Why do artists create art? 3:26

Artistic Elements : Story & Subject

Story & Subject 4:29

Biblical Scenes 5:16

Historical & Mythological Painting 9:03

Formal Portraiture 14:42

Landscape art 20:33

Genre art & Dutch still life 23:13

Kramskoy, portrait of a stranger, 1883

Join the art collector’s circle to receive a FREE notebook with inspiration, demonstrations & more! Click here: http://eepurl.com/b-vEXP

Next video: Video #1 | Part 2

In my next video you’ll learn about major artistic elements that artists use to design their paintings. They include composition, emotion, color, and the use of shapes, space and some painting techniques.

Painting detail of angels, art in Turin, Italy

Complete video series:

Video #1 Part 1 – Learn what makes a painting great – you’re here!

Video #1 Part 2 – Learn what makes a painting great, part 2

Video #2 Contemporary Art – coming soon!

Video #3 How to take care of your art collection – coming soon!

Video #4 How to frame art – coming soon!

Video # 5 Why you don’t need an interior designer to buy and display art in your home – coming soon!

Hand, painting detail, art in Turin, Italy
Bibliography:

The Metropolitan Museum of art, http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection

History of Art, 5th edition, H.W. Janson

The gilded age, E. Prelinger

Rhythmic Form in Art by Irma Richter, Dover Publications

Wikipedia & tons of art history classes in college! 🙂

Click on the image to subscribe to my art notes and receive a FREE download with my art, inspiration and demonstrations!

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!

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Russian 19th century art

The 19-th century Russian genre art, the Peredvizhniki (Itinerants)

russian art
Fedotov, choosy bride, 1847

As Russian art is not studied in most art history classes in the U.S., today I’d like to blog about the Peredvizhniki, the 19th-century Russian artistic movement.

This is a very fascinating time period in the history of Western Europe, because the Church and the State lost some of its former influence in their patronage of the arts, which allowed for a new blast of creativity and the development of many art movements. While Russian art remained reserved, developing new ideas somewhat slowly in comparison to France for instance, it did set cause to break away from the Academy as well. The country gave birth to a new movement-the Peredvizhniki (the itinerants) in 1863. It was a group of artists who organized traveling shows, painted common folk, and brought the arts to the people.

These were artists who refused to depict the accepted scenes from the Bible or the Greek mythology, and focused on painting the contemporary world around them instead. They often showed the inequality between the rich and the poor, the noble men and the inferior women. They also brought to attention the widespread abuse of children, who did hard manual labor.  As a result of such movement, Russian art preserved its traditional approach to painting, drastically changing the themes. (Besides the genre painting, artists also created a large body of work in landscape and portrait tradition. I will include their artwork in my next post).

Here are some of the genre paintings completed by the Peredvizhniki.

russian art
Perov, tea party in Mitischi, near Moscow, 1861

 

Perov, Three students carrying water, 1866
Repin, Unexpected, 1886

 

Makovsky, Meeting, 1863
Fedotov, Widow, 1851
Fedotov, Matchmaking of a major, 1848
Perov, Barge haulers on the Volga river, 1870-1873

 

Perov, Easter rural procession, 1861

Perov, Easter rural procession, 1861

 

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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
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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: