Category Archives: Oils

Paintings executed exclusively in oils – often but not always without the use of egg tempera either as an underpainting or in an emulsified solution for painting. In such a case, the oil may be applied either indirectly through a series of thinned layers or directly, that is, alla prima, sometimes with a palette knife.

A Piece of Me #60, oil on panel over collage. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #60, oils

A Piece of Me #60, underdrawing over collage.

A Piece of Me #60, underdrawing over collage.

A Piece of Me #60, oil on panel over collage. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #60, oil on panel over collage. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

Second in the new series of panels executed exclusively in oil. The underdrawing on the right shows not only the layout of the design but also its intentional graphical harshness. It’s supposed to be that way! You want that firmness, those hard lines and clear contrasts. Then the oil level enhances, softens and sensuously mitigates these things – see left.

Thus, after the yellow imprimatura and the underdrawing dried, I started with the oil level. I covered the whole surface with a clear medium and after fifteen minutes wiped it off. The medium created a slightly tacky surface for working wet-in-wet, painting impasto paint into the clear glaze. I began by developing the highlights and quarter tones on the left first, then the strong shadow areas on the right. My goal was to cover the entire panel, to finish it in one working session. I reserved the strongest shadows and highlights for the end. Using the dry fan brush I could softly blend adjacent areas into one another without smearing. One of my favourite activities!

I’m pleased with the level of detail/interest in the shadows. The impasto paint there is not so thick so as to obscure the ground. And there is enough variation to allow the eye to wander. I did have to contend with the collage: the tip of the shoe on the right edge protrudes maybe two or three millimetres? It’s very tactile but difficult to paint. The side-lit photograph in the top spotlight (online display only ) illumines its 3D aspect. Some of the strong highlights you see in the photograph are not paint but rather fugitive reflections.

A Piece ofMe #55, oil on linen mounted on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 ".

A Piece of Me #55, oils

A Piece ofMe #55, oil on linen mounted on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 ".

A Piece ofMe #55, oil on linen mounted on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 “.

Finally the home stretch. This then is the first of twelve final panels: all panels in this series will be executed exclusively in oil on an oil ground. This particular panel was painted on linen mounted on panel previous to the application fo the oil ground. All these slight variations in pre-treatment to the grounds mean that there will always be a slightly different relationship between the ground and the application of the paint.

Additionally, because this is an oil ground it’s not receptive to the india ink that I used for the underdrawings in the egg tempera, mixed technique and/or encaustic panels. In those cases the ground was a traditional chalk gesso, which is water based and also very absorbent. So I had to switch to a heavily diluted black oil paint for my underdrawings. The imprimatura too, was a heavily diluted yellow ochre. And after both of these treatments I had to let the panel dry for a few days.

However, because I had laid in this groundwork, the thicker oil level proceeded quickly. It took just one working session to develop the main forms and textures – although I did have to let that dry before painting in the final contrasts. When using an indirect technique for oil in this way means that the waiting times are not for impatient temperaments. I’m pretty chill, but even so I do chafe at the bit sometimes. 😉

the inside out, the Predijkherrenrei

the Predijkherrenrei, inside-out – Oil, July 2010

Ever since my early experiments in painting, I have gravitated to painting on panels. Canvas is OK, but I just love the tactile quality of chalk gesso on panel. So I’ve always fully gessoed my panels on both sides – which is in fact how the flemish primitive painters did it too. And indeed it’s always seemed a shame to me to ignore that reverse side. (Sometimes in museums, you’ll see the back side of a painting done with a trompe l’oeil effect to depict a textured surface like, wood or marble.)

When I discovered (in 2009) how well a turtle shell trompe l’oeil effect had worked on a wide frame for a detailed cityscape I had painted, I decided to bring the abstract effect directly into the painting. So I commissioned a local carpenter to build me a wooden panel with a rotating inner core. I gessoed both sides and set to work. This is the result. It’s not really a painting to hang from a wall, since the back sides also participates. But who ever said art should be functional?

the outside-in, back side to the inside-out

back side of the Inside-out view of the Predijkherrenrei painting.

the Predijkherrenrei

The front side of the Predijkherrenrei cityscape in Bruges Belgium

The Predijkherrenrei back

The back side of the Predijkherrenrei landscape painting.

Two sided oil on panel with rotating inner core. Based on a value study. July 2010. 44 x 59 cm or 17 1/4 x 23 1/4 inches. You can read about the work-up of this piece here.