Oil Painting Surfaces – A Cautionary Tale

Two Apples. Michele Clamp. Oil on panel. 5”x7”

Today was supposed to be a set of apple studies with different types of brushwork. It turned into a sorry saga of unsuitable surfaces. With pretty horrible results.

As this was just meant to be some studies I first started with a quarter sheet of Strathmore canvas paper. I’ve used this before with good results but what I forgot was that I gessoed the surface first before painting on it. And this time I didn’t. Ugh! The paint just sinks in, you can’t blend it, and it somehow darkens and goes matte on the paper. After struggling for an hour or so trying to get the paint to cover the surface (it soaks in and in!) I gave up. Here’s the result:

Blergh. Almost no form on that left hand apple even though I was *so* careful with the values.

After a quick stomp around the studio I fished out a small 5”x7” Ampersand gessobord. *Gesso* board so this surface must be ok yes? Hmm. Well it was better but boy so slick! The paint just rides around on the surface as there’s no tooth to speak of. It was definitely better than the paper but only just. Here’s my chunky block-in.

Kinda okay. I had a lot of trouble getting the chroma right on the light side of the apple. Will try and tweak that tomorrow and see if I can get it right. It has a certain charm but nowhere near what I was aiming for.

Finally I blended some of the edges and beefed up the darks a little. And that was it for the day. 4 hours – 2 apples! I have to get back to watercolor.

Apple Study in Oil

Apple Study in Oil (Paul Foxton Livestream)

Apples today with Paul Foxton. A lot of detailed mixing but the whole thing only came alive when the detail spots and the highlight went in. Could do a lot more on this. I only started to see a lot of the detail towards the end when I was really looking at it. But fun thought.

Last Beginning Watercolor Session – Sunflowers

Progression Photos of a Sunflower Painting Class

Here are few progression shots of today’s class painting. As you can see things always look flat and almost cartoonish until quite a way through the painting. Then the darks go in and everything comes together. It’s one of the most difficult things to do in watercolor – holding back with the detail and getting the basic shapes and values right. It takes faith and a bit of experience but always reaps rewards.

Today was the last zoom class in my Beginning Watercolor Workshop for the Newton NewArts center. It’s been a fun 6 weeks and I always enjoy these classes. It’s good to get back to basics and go slowly through mixing colors, values, washes, and putting them all to use in paintings. However, I’ve decided to rethink this set of lessons. There’s a lot to get through in 6 weeks and I’m going to break it down into shorter 1 or two hour sessions based around techniques. These are going to be available in the next few weeks via YouTube and facebook livestreams. People will be able to buy them one by one depending on what they’re interested in.

I still love doing the whole painting demos and I will be offering these in parallel. This way you can take a technique class or two followed by a painting class or vice versa. I’m hoping this will work well and we had a great discussion in class today about what works when you’re starting out with watercolor that reflects these decisions.

Kathy Speranza Roses – Online Course Pass 2

Kathy Speranza Rose Workshop – Second Pass

Pass 2 on the Kathy Speranza rose workshop. This is lesson 6 and the second pass putting on color. I’m finding this tricky but slowly getting into the slow pace of things. Usually I would be finishing up by now but I think there are a few more steps to go. Each with a week’s drying in between so we’re in for the long haul. This one was refining the background, values and edges. I also introduced some more chroma into the centers. A very little paint goes a long way with this method and I’m starting to enjoy it very much.

Here is the first pass

Kathy Speranza Rose Workshop – First Pass

Still Life Value Study – Rose with Silver Mug

Rose Still Life Value Study. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 10″x8″

Yesterdya’s Paul Foxton workshop session was cancelled but I thought I’d go mad and do a watercolor value study instead. Sheesh!!! So hard getting those close values in watercolor and still keep the form and light. But I think I did pretty darn well .

Here are some intermediates :