Some Notes on Technique

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“The most perfect technique is that which is not noticed at all.” –Pablo Casals


I’ve been working on a commission painting for the last couple months, wrestling with it a bit but making some good progress. I enjoy the commissions because they involve subject matter that I wouldn’t normally focus on in my own work, and with this comes new problems that (once resolved) leave me with a larger toolbox of solutions for getting the desired results with my own paintings. These “commission painting problems” could be resolved in any variety of ways; with a certain combination of brushes, a certain medium, a specific kind of application, and so on, usually relying on a combination of several factors that each contribute to the solution.

Cloth1To paint the cloth in the commission I’m currently working on I’ve premixed 20 colors and tubed them so I can have access to each without time spent remixing everyday.  I’ve switched to a poppy oil based medium that will extend the drying time and allow for nit-picky rendering.  The combination of brushes I’m using varies, but usually I’ll apply the paint with a round semi-soft synthetic then do some basic rendering with a filbert bristle brush, then further rendering with another semi-soft synthetic. If the area in question is somewhat blurred from motion I’ll use a fan brush or large badger hair filbert to create a blur effect.  Sometimes I’ll repeat the initial process several times in the same area, but I’ll still try and avoid the last step of blurring things until I’m happy with the first phase of applying and blending.IMG_5843

To paint the grass I took a different route. I would mix the colors each day and usually be able and use the same piles of paint the next day due to the sap green base color being slow to dry. For the application I relied almost entirely on filbert bristle brushes, caking the paint on in thick layers with a somewhat obsessive stylized depiction of individual grass blades and wildflowers. There was little rendering involved in this process except for the receding grass, which I would normally let dry halfway before slightly blending the edges with a filbert bristle.

Overall I’m spending more time on the cloth than I anticipated, but I’m happy with the results and it’s worth extra time to end with something I feel great about calling finished. Thanks for reading this small post, and let me know if you have any other questions about the methods I’ve briefly described.