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The easel is in action again!

Updated: Dec 6, 2021

Finally after 4 months away from oil painting, I am back at my easel again!! Thank goodness. My creative sanity was getting to it’s boiling point! I’ve just been so busy with teaching my Fashion Illustration Classes as well as running around after my children, time just got the better of me. Poor Wolfgang is also in need of a groom.

So here I am with a new oil painting on the go Aqua Bloom. I thought I’d give a little demo on how I am progressing in painting this lovely lady. Firstly, I’d like to share how I go about the design and inspiration of this work. Below are the source images that were used in designing this particular painting. You will see in the further images that I have taken the face from the image on the left, and put it on the figure on the right. Then I changed all of the colours up and added in the cute wallpaper background. Et Voila!

So here below is the start of the painting. I make a “cartoon” of the image and go in and paint the darkest areas in black. A cartoon is basically a fancy art word for a line drawing of the image. Why I paint the darkest areas in black you ask? Well, most oil paints that are in dark colours are quite transparent, so by building up the dark areas of the painting first in acrylic paint, helps the successive layers of oil paint which are to be dark look more opaque. As an example, when you paint your nails in a dark red nail polish, you need at least 2 layers of it to look good right? Same thing with oil paint.

In the image below I am laying down the first layer of paint. This is always in acrylics. I use acrylics in this underpainting stage just because they dry faster. This layer won’t be seen in the final painting, it will be covered up by the oil paint layers. But this layer is crucial as it will help the successive oil colour layers have depth of colour and help with opacity. This underpainting in acrylic also helps me test out the colours that I will use in the painting. Even though I will have a strong idea of how the painting will look in my imagination, things can change once you see it in reality. Using acrylics in this stage give me the flexibility to work fast and repaint areas that are not working, as it dries fast and can be repainted over if needed without any fuss. If I were to use oils in this initial layer, I would have to wait days before I could repaint a mistake.

Ok, now for the fun bit…..OILS!!! I love oil paint, it’s like painting with silk compared to acrylic paint! In the image below I have started working on her face. I block in the different shades of the face that add depth and highlights. You can see I use quite large bold strokes and don’t blend my brush marks in at this stage. Im more concerned about getting the facial shape right and also the skin tones correct. I don’t go into too much detail with the eyes yet. You can see in the image of where I have painted in oils, as the area of the ear is still unpainted. This layer of oil paint would not look so opaque or refined if it weren’t for that acrylic under layer as a base. Once I have started painting in oils, I cannot go and repaint anything at all in acrylics again. You can paint oils over acrylics but NEVER acrylics over oil paint.

Once I am happy with the blocking in of the oil paint layer on the face, I can now blend my brush marks into each other. What I do is get a semi soft flat brush, and blend those chunks of paint into one another. Kind of like if you were contouring your face with foundation and concealer, you wouldn’t want there to be stark edges, you want a smooth blended look. In the image below you can see the difference. But Im still not finished, Im am going to wait for this layer to dry, and then paint over it again to refine details, enhance the highlight and shades, and correct colours. If I would to do this now I’d just be smudging the paint all together. I want this current layer to stand still, so I can have the flexibility to rework things without mucking this layer up, hence thats why I need this layer to be dry before I go on any further with finalising the face with anymore paint.

The next step I want to achieve in this painting session is getting the hair started in oil paint layer as you can see in the image below. Again I can stress how important the acrylic layer is, if I were to paint the hair in oils on a white canvas without that acrylic underpainting, you would still see the white canvas showing through. But by underpainting the canvas in a dark acrylic colour, this layer of oil paint is looks opaque and now has a better depth of colour. With the oil paint, I block in the area with the darkest shade of the hair colour, in this instance a very dark brown. I then go in and paint into the hair with a much lighter brown to make the highlights. Once this is done I blend it all together as I did on the face with a flat brush. When I blend the hair I make sure I am blending in the direction of the hair flow. This technique is called “wet in wet”, hence I am painting on a wet surface, therefore the block colour of the hair is easily blended with the highlights of the hair. And as so in the face area, I can only do so much before it all becomes too smudgy. So I stop there and will wait for it to dry, so when I go in and paint more details in the hair, I am not messing up this layer of paint as I rework and add in more definition.

This is where I stop for now, Im satisfied with the first layer of oil paint on the face and hair. Its not perfect yet, but I can’t do anymore with it still wet, any more paint that I put on now would just get too smudgy. Plus my beautiful baby girl has just woken up from her nap, I’ve got a house to clean, food to cook and poodle to walk! Aaaayie!

Hopefully I will get some painting time next week and get to work on finishing this lovely lady. Will have to think of a name for her in the time being. Have a great week!

Painted with love,

Rose xox

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