Oil Ventures


I’m off to a rose painting workshop next weekend with
Kathleen Speranza

. This will be in oils and I’ve done precisely one oil painting in my life previously. So obviously I need to at least come prepared with some idea of what to do.

Armed with my new grey-backed glass palette I ventured in with the palette knife and first tried mixing up some neutral value strings. Harder than it looks and boy does this paint need a lot of mixing. Next up was trying out my trusty fruit arrangement and trying to hit all the colors of the fruits on the light and shadow side. This was a little easier than in watercolor as I can see the final color on the palette in oil.


I tried a quick white cube with the neutral values but then thought ‘to hell with it’ and went in with the full fruit picture. Having spent the time mixing the colors beforehand things went a lot better than I had predicted. It really helped already knowing how the colors mix from the watercolor painting and I was fairly happy at this stage.


After leaving things overnight I went back in with the darkest darks and did a bit of edge smoothing (still need to get to grips with this properly). I was pretty chuffed with the final image. Flowers, of course, are a whole different kettle of fish.


Something new – Oil Paints!


It was my birthday this week and I treated myself to a set of oil paints.   I’ve been looking forward to this for a couple of months and after a trip to Post Road Art for some paints, medium and solvent it was off to the hardware store for cheaper things like gloves,  oil soap and  hand cleaner.     In total I spent around $150 which is more than I planned but I couldn’t really strip it back any more.

For my first time out I thought it best to stick with something I know so of course it was an owl!  Very much a voyage into the unknown here and I just jumped straight in with a few bits of knowledge I’ve picked up from reading various blogs.

First a charcoal drawing and an underpainting in burnt sienna thinned with Gamsol solvent.


Looks ok so far.    Now in with some paint.


This is mostly burnt sienna, ultramarine and yellow ochre with a quick try out of the background with prussian blue.   Still fairly happy here.   It’s very strange not dealing with water and I keep smudging things as I’m not used to the paint drying so slowly.     I do have to say it’s nice to actually know what value you’re putting down on the canvas rather some elaborate guesswork with watercolor.


Further on now – this was the second day.    Things seem to be coming together.  The dark feathers are going in well and the face is looking good.    


Almost at the end now.    The background has gone in simply – it’s my first try so nothing fancy.  The eyes and face have had some more work.  I still need to soften up some edges here as he’s a bit garish.   The body feathers and wings are probably not going to see much more work – I don’t want to mess things up,   The rocks definitely need something doing to them but that can wait until tomorrow.

So all in all I’m pretty chuffed.  I can’t say I like oils better than watercolor.  Watercolor does have a lot of charm that you just can’t get with oil.   But I think this has some potential.   and it was a fun birthday present.