My work station and tools of the trade.
I thought it might be purposeful to describe a bit how I paint.
Right up front I want to give a lot of credit to a particular website (drawmixpaint.com) which is crammed full of free videos (and some you can purchase) covering every subject imaginable on how to paint in oils, from start to finish. Everything you need to know is free, and the artist teaching you is very skilled in teaching. One of the things I was most grateful for in Mark Carder’s videos is the fact that it is all in real-time speed. There’s none of this sped up painting that leaves you thinking that you should be able to throw the paint on the canvas and get a good result. You get to see how it’s really done.
I watched every video, and built most of the tools and equipment suggested. His style suits me, but even if your style of painting differs, the information on the site is invaluable to a self taught painter like myself. (Perhaps I can’t really call myself self-taught).
Some of the important things you see in the photo above are:
- A black cloth covering the window to block the glare in my face
- A special daylight bulb overhead which allows true sight of the colors you are painting (that light behind the easel is not used for painting purposes)
- A high quality photo of my still-life sized to match the size of my panting
- Paint pallet of glass over brown paper (for ease in mixing correct colors)
- Color checkers – a hand built black one (drawmixpaint) and a small piece of lamination plastic on which I put dabs of paint to hold up against the photo for color matching
- Tilted brush holder
- Easel that allows perpendicular positioning of canvas (my stretcher bar has an eyelet through which I run string to tie if to the easel bar – keeps the painting from falling forward
- Other things I use are q-tips (the hard rounded type, not soft cotton) for removing small areas that need correcting)
- Small jar of Geneva Fine Art Brush Dip [you can also make this yourself – see drawmixpaint]
I don’t do everything according to the Carder method. For instance, I use very small brushes – primarily #2, #0, and occasionally a #6 or #8. I just don’t seem able to use the larger brushes well. Just my style, I guess. This does mean that I paint very slowly. Therefore, I am not able to complete an entire painting before the paint has already started to dry in places. This means that I paint from upper left to bottom right so that I am always painting wet into wet. This also means that I must be continually diligent to get the tones and values correct as I go. I don’t use any mediums that increase the drying time of the paint.
You can see in the photo above that I have laid in the background which is a quick process. Then I start at the upper left with the subject matter. I’ll do all the items on the table first, including the cloth up to the edge of the table. Then I’ll paint the rest of the cloth. I do this so that even if the table cloth has started to dry when I come back to finish it, the transition will be a natural one (in this case, light area to darker area).
I use my mahl stick almost the whole time. I don’t stand back and then reach forward and make a mark on the canvas. Sounds fun, but I need more control.
I do continually get up and stand back to see view the painting fro a distance. I find this absolutely crucial to getting it right. It’s also great fun, because it is when you step back that the magic appears.
I hope this is useful, or at least interesting.
I will talk about paints in the next entry.