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Posts Tagged ‘oil paint’

Here is the first assignment from my oil painting class. Our task was to define an alter-ego for ourselves, and to paint our likeness on this fantasy identity.

I decided that my alter-ego would be an exotic snake charmer, hiding from the dessert sun in her lavish arabian, or maybe Egyptian palace. My alter-ego would be a very mysterious and even dangerous person, hence she keeps the company of snakes. There are nineteen snakes in this painting. My birth year is represented by the snake in the Chinese zodiac, and I’ve always really liked to draw reptiles..so why not be a snake charmer? I don’t like the hot sun, or the sand but my alter-ego embraces a slightly sandy lifestyle than me. But even the pretend me would spend her time in the shade.

Taking reference for this photo was really fun. I already owned most of the costume, and I wrapped a towel around my shoulder for the python. This piece was very meticulous to paint, but I enjoyed myself. I think that the way I envisioned the painting rendered lent itself well to oils. I learned a lot from this piece, and even though oils may not be my medium of choice going forward, I am happy to have learned how to use them and to learn what sets them apart visual and technically from water based mediums.

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This is what we call a stock image. It’s a vague, metaphorical piece that could be applied to a number of projects. Painted with oil, this cheerful piggy bank is perfect for an add for savings accounts, or an article on financial growth. It could also be a an image to stand for the economic advantages of recycling and going green. It can adopt the meaning of the text it is paired with, and add a little visual fun to a boring subject. Horray!

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I have another practice painting to post! This is the same self portrait of myself that I did monochromatically, but this time, I am using colored glazes to build up the painting. I started on a white gessoed board, and put in the darks with a thin layer of fairly dry raw umber, kind of like a sketch. Then I worked on top of that with thin, liquin heavy glazes of other browns, oranges, pinks, and purples to build up the portrait in a matter of hours.

At the time, I did not have any small brushes, so the result is a very fuzzy painting. I was working with a rag as well, primarily to wipe away paint, but because I had nothing to paint my smaller features with, I used my fingernail through a T-shirt rag dipped in paint to get my hazy eyelashes and teeth.

I have smaller brushes now. And the painting that I am working on now will be every bit as detailed as my acrylic and watercolor paintings. That being said, I am pretty happy with how this piece turned out. Its a cool effect, and it is practice, after all. This is the time to experiment.

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I have taken some photos of my practice oil paintings for your entertainment. Before this class, I knew nothing at all about oil paint. And I am still very clueless, but at least not totally hopeless. We have been learning how to use the paint by doing a whole bunch of simple portraits.

First we learned a wipe-away glazing technique where we tint the whole board over a pencil drawing, and then wipe away and then add back in to create a soft, monochromatic head.

Another way that we worked monochromatically was by using the paints opaquely, with the help of white. We mixed up three basic tones: a dark tone, a middle tone, and a light tone and used them to build up a more solid feeling monochromatic portrait. The portrait below is of my friend Alex. The spheres in the background above his head were mandatory practice spheres that I didn’t completely cover because we didn’t have enough class periods for me to lay more than one coat of paint on top of them. That’s okay though, because both of these pieces are just for practice.

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First Oil Painting

Once again, as part of my science and art class (which is now finished btw) we spent some time becoming familiar with different kinds of paint. This tiny little piece is my very first time working with oil paint! This panel is only 4″x4″ and has been gesso’d and sanded by hand.

Oil paint is a mixture of raw pigments and linseed oil. (Or poppy seed oil or walnut oil, but linseed is most commonly used today) We mixed all of our own pigments to paint these little panels, and a small amount of color really goes a long way. Mostly because oil paint stays wet for so long, small bits of pigment can be re-worked and blended for days. Many people who work with oil consider this feature to be one of its greatest advantages. I however, am not quite used to it yet. I am used to layering my paint in rapid succession using acrylics which dry very quickly. Acrylic paints have really dictated the way that I learned to paint because oils had not been very available to me in high school. Another draw back to oil paints that I see, is actually what I smell. The image dries on the canvas as the linseed oil goes rancid. Therefore, the linseed oil gives off a strong odor which gives painting studios a distinctive smell. I am not a fan.

Linseed oil apparently is always drying. And practically never stops. If you pour a little on a pallet and let it sit for months, it will dry into a rubbery substance sort of like dried glue or rubber cement but with less crumbling. If left for enough years, the oil will harden into a rock and can be shattered.

Oil paints can be toxic, especially if you inhale the unmixed pigments, but some materials are more dangerous than others. Watch out for cadmium and lead.

Oils are very good for dark paintings, and soft blended transitions from dark to light. Rich, deep, darks can be created from oils because of the natural sheen of the paint. The paint is also slightly translucent, allowing some of the underpainting to glow through. The translucency of oil paint can be compared to that of skin, making it an excellent medium for portraits.

I am not ready for oil portraits. Compared to acrylics the paint seems slippery and the continuous smudging of areas I had already completed was frustrating. Lots of drying time must be allowed before areas can be reworked. I spent two sessions of 2 hours per session on this little piece, with 3 days in between for the paint to dry. Even then, there was still wet paint on the sides of the panel. After all is said and done, the glow of this little painting is nice in person, and it has a strong atmospheric quality which was surprisingly easy to achieve thanks to the paint’s luminosity. I look forward to gaining more practice with oils, but in the future I will likely be buying my pigments in tubes instead of the raw form.

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