-By Justin Gerard

I have recently took on 2 private commissions for some larger format oil paintings and today I’d like to share my initial stages from them with you.
For those of you who have followed along these last few years, you will probably know that finding a good working method in oil (that doesn’t turn me into a werewolf or raise the dead) has been somewhat challenging for me these past few years.  I wanted to find a way that would allow me to work with many thin layers, somewhat like watercolor; but that did not involve solvents or harm the archival quality of the painting. 
It has only been in the past year that things have finally begun to really make sense to me, and that I have finally become comfortable taking on larger oil paintings. 

The first of these is for Greg O’baugh, and the scene may he is commissioning, may look familiar to some folks…  

Yes, this is Smaug. Greg actually purchased the original watercolor of Old Smaug at Illuxcon a few years back.  Since then he has asked if I might be interested in repainting this one, and this time in oil, without the aid of any of my digital trickery.

Usually I would be very apprehensive about something like this. Wether traveling, painting or reading, I usually don’t like to retread the same ground twice.  There is still so much to do and explore and learn that seeing a place twice seems like a wasted opportunity.  But this image is different. This one is a challenge, and one that I have always wanted to do as an oil painting.

For many years I have been secretly convinced that I can’t do traditionally what I can do digitally.  And no matter how many of you have told me in exasperation to JUST DO IT, I have always had great reservations.  So now this is a chance to finally give this one the treatment it deserves.

I hope to share more of the work-in-progress shots as this develops and I look forward to hearing what you think when you compare the two separate approaches.

The second image is also Tolkien themed and is being commissioned by Dan Perkins.  It is of the Ents marching up to break the dam above Orthanc and will be 30″ x 50″ on panel. 

If the characters in this digital color comp look familiar, it is because they are mostly from my 2012 Sketchbook.  The 2012 sketchbook was done chiefly as studies for a series of larger oil paintings like this one that I hope to keep producing over the next few years. 

Part of the reason that these scenes are painted so much larger than my other work is because of the lack of solvents. The only medium I will be using with the oil paints, is walnut alkyd oil, (and that only sparingly.)

I hope you will follow along and when these are finished let me know what you think about the conversion from watercolor and digital to oil.

Next: The Color Phase and a no-solvent, fast-drying palette