I know I said Monday was guest blogger day, but I lined up five guests for the month, knowing there would likely be a day that I was grateful for doing so. Today is that day! Carrie Lewis is another friend and EAG member with whom I have a lot in common. Though we've yet to meet, we've known each other for years, and I've no doubt one day we will meet! Please be sure to visit Carrie's website. There, in addition to galleries of her equine and landscape paintings, you'll find links to her blogs. Not only does Carrie paint, she also writes.
Carrie is working in oil, in a style that is quite similar to how I paint in oils. I'll let her explain! Thanks, Carrie!
A Work in Progress using The Flemish Technique
by Carrie Lewis
Buckles & Belts (above, with reference photo at top) is the first ’still life’ I am attempting using the Flemish painting technique. The focus is the combination of buckles, straps and shadows where a bridle and halter meet. The horse was a pony horse I photographed years ago at Mt. Pleasant Meadows in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. It is 6×8 inches in size and is on prepped 1/4-inch masonite panel. The panel was prepped with half acrylic modeling paste and half acrylic gesso applied with a large confectioner's knife and spread over the panel until it became too stiff to work with. After it had dried, each layer was scraped with a razor blade and the result was a surface that has the texture of an egg shell and is almost as smooth.
Once the drawing is worked out in detail, it is transferred to the panel with graphite. Drawings are transferred to the painting surface using graphite, but the first layer of paint will completely wash away graphite. To preserve the drawing, it is redrawn in ink.
With this painting technique, the imprimatura stage is not the first painting stage. It’s the final prep stage. The painting surface is being toned in preparation for painting, but it is toned after the drawing is in place instead of before.
I used two base colors for this layer: Lamp Black and Yellow Ochre. Prussian Blue can be added to create a cooler imprimatura layer and white can be added to create a lighter value imprimatura.
The imprimatura is usually applied thinned with painting medium of 2 parts solvent to 1 part walnut oil (I exclusively use M. Graham Oils ground with walnut oil). With this painting, however, I rubbed the imprimatura layer onto the panel and smoothed out the color with a clean cloth and using no medium.
The drawing can be transferred, inked in and brought to the finished imprimatura stage in the same day. Fast out of the gate! That's what I like!
The Umber Layer is only the first step in the actual painting process and to date, all of the paintings I have in progress have required more than one day to complete this stage. Buckles & Belts is no different.
At this stage, I have used painting medium (2 parts solvent and 1 part walnut oil) to create a wash using only Burnt Umber. The idea is to use oil paints like watercolor and to apply the first layer of color in confident strokes. I'm afraid I'm not as confident as I should be, but this is both a new technique and a unique subject, so I proceeded more carefully.
All of the darker shadows were blocked in along with some of the shadows in the lighter range.
The Next Day....
A little bit more work. I have been putting in 30 minutes or less each day on this piece, gradually developing values as much as possible, then setting the painting aside to dry over night. The paint is about the same consistency each day and about the same value (darkness). The darker darks you see here simply have more layers than the lighter darks.
This is the finished Umber Layer. It took three sessions spread over the space of about five days to complete this work. I am very happy with this painting in spite of the complex design and the non-traditional subject treatment.
The painting will no dry for at least two weeks and probably closer to three. I will check it at the two week mark, which will be April 13, but so far, the paintings I've checked at two weeks have not been ready, so it will probably be April 20 before I get back to this one.
The next step will be the dead layer, the results of which give paintings the look of being seen in the light of a full moon. I'm looking forward to this stage with much anticipation.