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Applying and Rendering Oil Paint

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My goal with this course was to simplify the process of oil painting, and I based the structure of this tutorial on the struggles I notice most when working with beginner and intermediate painters. The solutions I came up with to overcome these struggles are the following:

  1. Break up the actual construction of the painting into two different phases of application and rendering. In the first phase of blocking in the painting, the goal is to lay down a layer of paint by filling in one area at a time. Each area is distinguished by its value or color. In deciding on what an “area” is we want to be somewhere between too specific and too broad, which of course will take some practice. You can use my demonstration as an example. As we build up these areas we allow them to remain distinct from each other, like stones we are placing in a wall. The brush we use in this application phase is a round synthetic, it allows us to be exact and distinct with the placement of each mark.
  2. Once we have covered the entire canvas or panel we are painting on, we transition to the rendering phase. During this phase we use a long filbert bristle brush to work the paint together, dissolving the seams of our distinct areas of paint by rendering them into a continuous whole. It’s best not to let ourselves slip into autopilot when rendering, but to continue looking at our reference image and doing our best to maintain the likeness of whatever we are painting. We can still be pushing paint one way or the other while rendering to improve the drawing, or vice versa, making sure not to push the paint in the wrong direction while rendering.
  3. After a first pass of rendering the entire image we can step back and look for areas that may need more application. This can once again be done with the round synthetic brush.
  4. Then we can proceed to render again with the long filbert bristle brush.

The process described above (and demonstrated at length in the videos below) is certainly not the only way to paint, but it is a method that I’ve seen prove very effective in helping both beginner and intermediate painters get results they are very happy with. By minimizing how many factors are being dealt with at once, the painter is able to focus on building a true drawing with well placed values, instead of working wet into wet and trying to achieve more complex gradations immediately, the painter can postpone all this and remain that much more focussed on maintaining some order to their application of paint. As the painter gains more and more familiarity with handling the medium of oil paint, they can begin trying to express more of the entire process in each of their brushstrokes. Future tutorials will deal with this more advanced process.

Remember that the concepts of this tutorial are more important than the exact materials. With that said I'll list out everything I used, these are all products I have used for years, and I get no sort of endorsement at the time of writing this.

•Brushes.  The synthetic brush I used was from the company Escoda. The edition is named Perla, and it is a number 6. The bristle brush I used was also from Escoda. The edition is Clasico, and it was a number 4. 

•Painting Surface.  The surface I used was the "value series smooth finish" from Ampersand. 

•Paints.  The paint colors I used were Mars Black from Old Holland, Raw Sienna from Gamblin, and Titanium White from RGH paints. I mixed a small amount of poppy oil into the paint for more fluidity, and a very small amount of clove oil to slow the drying time. 

•Mineral Spirits. I used Gamblin's Gamsol. 

•Mediums. Just those listed above, Old Holland's Poppy Oil, and clove oil. Note, when purchasing clove oil you may need to buy from companies that sell essential oils. Clove oil may not be in your art supply store (and is probably overpriced if it is)

•Paper towels for cleaning the brushes

•Palette. I use a homemade piece of glass

•Easel. I used Mabef's Giant Field Tripod easel. I like most anything by Mabef, and also have their larger hand crank easel, but would avoid their smaller tripod easels. They tend to be "rickety"