Tag: veronica winters painting

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

 

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:

Oil painting techniques: what is lightfastness of oil paint?

While I’m not an expert in art conservation, I am the artist who paints full-time. After years of painting, conversations with other professionals and some research, I can offer the very basic guidance in choosing your oil paints for your art. Feel free to research this topic further via my references at the bottom of this post or by contacting the products’ manufacturers. 🙂

Picking the right brand of oil paint can be a challenge. Some brands are promoted so heavily by the art supply companies that artists buy their paints without having a second thought. When I was a student, the quality of paint hardly ever mattered to me and my most common determinant was the price. Today as I take care of my art my buying choices are strongly influenced by the overall quality and lightfastness of oil paint.

There are several important properties of oil paint artists should pay attention to. The most necessary information can be seen written right on a tube of paint. Don’t buy the paint that doesn’t have the following data printed on it.

1. Transparency vs. opaqueness of oil paint

While some colors are transparent, others are opaque or semi-opaque. An empty square, half-empty, or a filled square gives artists information about the paint’s transparency.  Some brands just say “Transparent” or “Semi-opaque” as opposed to assigning a specific symbol to it. So when I chose my paint for glazing, applying the transparent layers of paint, I look at the square/ or a note on transparency to determine if my paint is naturally good for glazing. Some transparent colors are Gamblin’s ultramarine blue, Michael Harding’s bright yellow lake, or Charvin’s transparent yellow ochre, etc.

Opaque or semi-opaque colors are often good for scumbling, layering the light opaque paint over the dark area.

2. Pigments used in oil paint determine the lightfastness (resistance to light) and the longevity of your art.

This is the most important principle in choosing your paint. The pigments used in oil paint are described in letters and numbers. For example, PB15-phtylocianine blue is rated lightfastness I. PW1-lead white is lightfastness I. PR2-Napthol red G- lightfastness II, etc.

While some basic colors have just one pigment, there are many colors that consist of several pigments mixed together along with oil, fillers, and binders. These “new,” not historical colors give artists a lot more color choices, but every pigment present in such paint tube should be checked for lighfastness separately. For example, Winton flesh tint has 4 pigments in it (PW6, PW5, PY42, and PV19).

Here is extensive pigment information database that lists oil paint properties including the lightfastness of paints: http://www.artiscreation.com/


Each company performs its own tests. This information is written on the tube, and it reads either as +, ++ or +++, or lightfastness I, lightfastness II, or lightfastness III and so on. The higher the number (3-4) the less lightfast the paint is.

By nature, browns and ochres are often more lightfast than some funky colors, like alizarin crimson or turquoise. Those colors that have lightfastness 3-4 are fugitive and fade pretty quickly. If you paint professionally, those colors should be avoided painting with.
Artists can perform their own tests by exposing 1/2 of paint to the sun (while the other half is covered by black tape or cardboard). Lift the tape in a month of continuous light exposure to see the change in color. Artist Virgil Elliott has tested numerous colors of various brands. You’ll find a lot of useful information on painting in his book Traditional oil painting and in his facebook group.

3. Type of oil mixed into the paint.

All tubed paints have some oil mixed into the paint. Linseed oil is the most stable oil that is also used widely as paint medium by artists. It’s long-lasting and dries quite quickly.

Safflower oil, poppy oil, and walnut oil are less stable oils often used as vehicles that are mixed into the oil paint. Avoid using safflower oil.

4. The amount of fillers and binders added to oil paint.

Various amounts of fillers and binders are mixed into the oils as well. They dilute the pigment by “stretching” the paint, making it cheaper to the consumer. Such pigments have a much longer shelf life. Fillers and binders greatly affect the consistency and texture of paint. It could affect the drying speed of paint as well.

Rublev colors, manufactured by Natural Pigments, don’t have any fillers in their paint, making the oils more stable and with high tinting strength. Like other professional-grade paints, they give artists a lot more pigment in a small tube as opposed to cheaper oil paint put in a large tube. But because NP have no extra binders, their shelf life is very limited and it’s best to use the paint within a year. I could barely squish the paint out of the tube after that.

Professional brands of oil paints include:

  • Rublev colors by NP
  • Old Holland
  • Michael Harding
  • Gamblin
  • Chroma, etc.

These are great resources for further research:

  • The atelier movement– a closed group on Facebook-exists for artists interested in classical painting. The group’s administrator is classically trained artist-Graydon Parrish.
  • Artist Virgil Elliot: http://virgilelliott.com/
  • Douglas Flynt’ blog: http://douglasflynt.blogspot.com/
  • “The artist’s handbook of materials & techniques” by Ralph Mayer: http://www.amazon.com/The-Artists-Handbook-Materials-Techniques/dp/0670837016
  • Sadie Valerie blog: http://www.sadievaleri.com/blog/

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