Today I’d like to share with you a painting I made for Every Day Original. It is an 8″x10″ oil painting and goes on sale February 1 on www.everydayoriginal.com.
Face study drawn in 2H graphite on heavyweight drawing paper.
Graphite Drawing with HB pencils on Heavyweight Drawing Paper
Before I arrived at the above drawing I had been chasing a separate idea that involved a castle burning. (Justin Gerard doesn’t always paint castles, but when he does, they are on fire.) As I got deep into the development of this drawing I found that I had started adding dozens of figures and banners and horses, a trebuchet, a pirate ship, Abraham Lincoln riding a gryphon… and really it just just got to be too much for the small size canvas I was planning. I decided to save that one for a possible future painting. For this one I really wanted it to be more focused on the face of the dragon and the city burning in the background.
In the following animatic you can see the various stages it went through as it developed. As with some of my previous oil paintings I painted the base layers of this image in fluid acrylics. I do this because I like the speed you can establish the shadows and forms when using acrylic. I also do this because I am still averse to using solvents when I paint in oil. For a medium I use Gamblin’s Solvent-free Fluid, which is a wonderful medium that allows for smooth brushwork and even light glazes, but is not recommended for heavier use in underpaintings because that may make the painting too “fat” early on.
Hi there Gerald. Love the post and love the encouragement showing me that you can convey a lot of detail on a small scale. I have a suggestion for your initial washes though: I really recommend trying water soluble oil paints by cobra. These are stunning for washes just with water and you can use them opaquely as traditional oils as well. It helps to have all the layers coherent using just one kind of material. I use them over two years and they haven’t disappointed me yet. I made this still life with them and it’s used in 95% transparently
Thanks Petr, I actually have worked a number of times with Cobra water soluble oils and I love them! My only complaint is the drying time. I find that they stay wet for far too long, making it really difficult to work in multiple layers. (If I try to paint with wet layers when the underpainting is touch dry I find that I often peal up the layers underneath. I need to wait sometimes 10 days for it to be completely dry and this is too long for me.) On top of that their proprietary drying agents make the paint sticky and unworkable. I still haven’t found a good way to work in water soluble oils that allows for it to remain non-toxic, quick drying, and also have the paint remain buttery and workable on the canvas. If you have any suggestions or know of any products you’d recommend please let me know! I’m always on the lookout for new materials that might address this issue!
I’d used quick drying medium with cobras from Gamblin which worked fine – but as you said it was sticky which could be bothersome. I found that cobra makes quick drying medium directly serving this purpose but I haven’t tried that medium yet. With that Gamblin one It was touch dry the next day though – provided that I used mainly transparent pigments – I do washes mainly to establish darks – to have them vibrant. I usually don’t mind to wait a little bit longer to have those washes dry because of my schedule – I can squeeze just couple of hours every other day if I’m lucky. Final layers for me are more complicated though – since I like to work after my underpainting is established wet into wet. For that purpose I’m using my freezer for my palette which is good for the blobs of paint – they can stay fresh, but I’m still fighting to keep my opaque layers wet on my painting surface throughout the week. Slow drying medium from cobra would be stellar as well 🙂
As someone who worked in a lab for years and thus probably already exposed himself to a lot of toxic materials, but would also like to experiment with oils one day, I really appreciate hearing about your research on oil media.