Thursday, January 23, 2014

Watercolor in Oil

Sorting through some thoughts here this morning as the kids get off to a delayed start due to the bitter cold.

I began this Fine Art biz many years ago in watercolor, under the guidance of Irving Shapiro back at the American Academy of Art in Chicago.

After spending two months on a commission piece for the Mayo Clinic in Rochester I have finally been able to get back at some pieces that have been rolling around in my mind. With much anticipated delight I have started five 18 x 24's and one 12 x 24. Visiting some old scenes as well as creating a couple of new ones. As I mass in each one I begin to see how much I still hold to my watercolor roots.

I loved the fact that Shapiro always started with his darkest dark on pure white paper, which if you know anything about watercolors, that is not the usual procedure. But by doing so Irving was able to keep his darks - rich, transparent, and saturated. When done in the usual manner the darks are reserved until much later in the process and end up being painted on top of previous layers so in essences taking away from the fresh rich and transparent beauty of the dark.

So now fast forward to oils many years later and I still find myself massing and washing in my patterns and shapes as close to the value and temperature that I want them to be when the painting is complete. With the white of the canvas my darks stay rich and transparent and even my lights with the added help of the white linen can stay transparent versus impasto, which again adds to their brilliance and ability to reflect the light versus absorbing it.

I teach a small class here in my studio weekly and I hear myself repeat these things over and over, one of the really good parts about teaching for sure. It does add clarity to what I am trying to do and achieve as I continue to evolve and grow.

You may ask why this thought now on this morning? As I look at one of the Italian scenes in progress I see that I still have the white of the canvas showing through on a part of it that is the highest and closest to white in reality. I rarely ever use pure white on a painting, there is always some influence of either warm or cool infused into it.
However this morning I am tempted to leave it be as one would in Watercolor.

In progress, exposed white canvas around brown doorway.


Some are still in progress, some further along than others.


Beginning phases, massing and building.

Tempo Libero

Detail Above


M de Braganca said...

Great post Ken- Thanks for the reminders! I love the way you block in your paintings, and interesting correlation to watercolors. You had a great teacher!

Anonymous said...

Amazing as always! What a treat to read your blog and "hear" your thoughts! Love them all!