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painting techniques

  • A Different Painting Technique

    Painting With Palette Knives

    Forget the idea that palette knives can only be used for mixing colours!

    Choose from a wide range of palette knives 

    Tips for Painting with Palette Knives

    Not only are brushes are suitable for painting – using palette knives can give an entirely different effect, and they are particularly recommended for Impasto technique.

     

    Palette knives are especially useful when you want to achieve ‘clean’, brushstroke-free surfaces. Colours applied with a knife are pure and more vibrant, and due to the range of different sizes, it’s even possible to cover larger surfaces.

     

    Painting with palette knives is more like layering paint, so it’s the perfect tool for expressive marks as well as for realistic details like waves on the sea and tree trunks.

     

    Palette knives are very useful for painting outside (plein air) as it’s not only faster to put the constantly changing scenery onto a canvas with it, but it saves time and effort as knives can just be wiped clean in order to use a new colour.

    Palette Knife Types

    regular palette knives
    • Use a short blade for angular strokes
    • Use long blades for sweeps of colour
    • Use sharp pointed blades for thin scratches and lines
    • Use round blades to avoid sharp lines
    palette knives for unique effects

    Palette Knife Painting Techniques

     

    • Scraping back the paint, revealing the previous layers is a technique called sgraffito (using the end of a brush)
    • Pressing paint onto the surface will make a good textured effect
    • Pressing the edge of the knives is used to make fine lines
    • For making ridges, press the blade flat down into the paint
    • Or simply spread paint across the canvas like butter on bread with the long side of the blade

    Watch this Demo!

     

    Examples:

    References:

    • http://thevirtualinstructor.com/knife-painting-acrylic-paint.html
    • http://www.buildart.com/secrt_of_PaletteKnifeOilPainting.htm
    • http://www.artinstructionblog.com/oil-painting-with-a-palette-knife
    • https://www.thoughtco.com/learn-how-to-paint-with-a-knife-2578778

     

  • INTRODUCTION TO OIL PAINT

    Don't be scared to try oil paints!

    Using oil paint might seem a bit scary at first – they require the use of chemicals, they are more expensive and generally considered harder to learn the proper techniques. This general introduction to oil paint should prove useful if you’re considering making the decision and try them out – even though they require more painting knowledge, it is worth getting into!

    So what really are oil paints?

    Oil paint is a traditional material that has been used in Europe since the 15th century. It basically consists of one or various pigments (organic and/or metallic based - these days synthetic versions are much more common) mixed with oil - typically linseed, poppy or sunflower.

    Different Solvents

    The most striking feature of oil paint is that they will not dissolve in water. But don’t let it discourage you! With enough knowledge, these chemicals will become less sinister!

    Turpentine

    Spirits

    Painting Medium

    If you are not sure about what kind of brush to use with oil paint, find more information here

    Curious what brand of oil paint to choose? Read our comparison here

    Painting Surfaces and Preparation

     There are two main surfaces for oil painting: stretched canvases, canvas boards or wooden panels. You can prepare your own preferred painting surface, or purchase them.

    Canvas stretching
    canvas boards
    Wooden panels

    It is advised to put a layer of (rabbit skin) glue onto the surface of the canvas before the Gesso, but it is essential when you’re working with wood, as otherwise it could curl due to the moisture in the paint. After two or three layers of glue another two or three layers of Gesso (a mixture of rabbit skin glue, water, and chalk that creates a flexible and absorbent layer between the canvas or wood and oil paint) are applied. It’s not necessary to paint too many layers, as it could result in dull colours if the heavy layers absorb the oil paint. In between preparatory layers you should always use sandpaper to smooth the surface.

    Oil Painting Techniques

    “Fat over lean” technique

    This is the basic principle of oil painting, which is the method of applying thinned down paint (high percentage of solvent) first, and gradually using less and less solvent. “Fat” refers to the oil paint that’s diluted with an oil medium (linseed or poppy seed oil) while “lean” means oil paint that’s diluted with turpentine or spirits. If the layers aren’t applied correctly, it could cause cracking.

      

      

    Artwork by Meredith Milstead

    “Alla Prima” / Wet on wet technique

    This is a technique where layers are applied without leaving the previous one to dry.

      

      

    Varnishing Your Painting

    No matter what kind of varnish you use, it is important to know when to varnish oil paintings - however dry they seem, they might not be completely!
    With other paints, the drying process is basically just evaporation – but not with oils. While the surface is seemingly and “physically” dry, truly it is an ongoing chemical process of oxidation, and after this stage the painting begins to age.

    Therefore, oil paints are advised to be varnished after at least half a year after the work has been finished. Otherwise, the varnish will work as a seal and won’t let oxygen pass through the layers effectively. Halting the oxidisation process will leave the deeper layers still wet, which on a long run will cause the surface layer to crack.

      

    Read more about varnishes here.

    How Do I Clean My Brushes Properly?

    Getting out of oil paint from your brushes might seem to be a struggle – but in reality, it’s not so hard! First of all, you don’t necessarily need to have completely clean brushes. It is easy to simply wipe your brush with a towel, or for a cleaner bristle, damp it with a bit of solvent, linseed oil or brush cleaner solution. Even when you’re starting a new painting, it is useful to have a bit of leftover paint in your brush, as it is perfect for sketching. As Mark Carder* demonstrates in his useful video, cleaning your brush frequently does more damage to the bristle than leaving paint in it! However, even if oil paint dries very slowly, you do have to take care of your brushes when you don’t intent to use them for a few weeks. In that case, the best way is to use some sort of spirit in a well ventilated area, and clean the brush with a (paper) towel.

    *make sure to check out his tips on "easy ways to take care of oil paintbrushes"

    Important!
    How to dispose of turps and other chemicals?

    It is essential to know how to dispose of hazardous waste properly when you’re working with such materials. It is not only illegal to pour them into the sink or on the ground, but highly dangerous to the environment. 

    When you no longer intend to use your paints or solvents, make sure you either donate it to someone who would use it or take care of them properly. One way is to let the used turpentine or brush cleaner to sit in their container while the paint separates – the clear liquid can be reused, the remaining paint then poured onto an absorbent surface such as cat litter, saw dust or concrete. Let it completely dry and them put it in a fire-safe trash container.

    Next step is to find your local hazardous waste collection site:

    • https://www.gov.uk/hazardous-waste-disposal
    • http://www.williamtraceygroup.com/capabilities/special_hazardous_waste
    • http://www.sepa.org.uk/regulations/waste/special-waste/
    • https://www.biffa.co.uk/business-waste/where-we-operate/scotland/

    References:

    http://webartacademy.com/art/free-bonuses/The-Oil-Painting-Guide.pdf
    http://www.artistdaily.com/wp-content/uploads/HowToPaint_V3.pdf
    http://willkempartschool.com/glossary-for-oil-painting-terms-the-essential-guide-for-beginners/
    https://blog.udemy.com/oil-painting-techniques/
    http://www.thisland.illinois.edu/57ways/57ways_25.html

  • Rembrandt, the painter

    Have you seen the previous article on the Rembrandt and Van Gogh paints? Or you would like to get some painting tips from the Dutch Master? Even if you’re just interested in some fun facts about painters and techniques; curious what chiaroscuro means, or why it is so soothing to look at Rembrandt’s paintings, keep reading!

    Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn |1606 - 1669

    Self-Portrait, aged 51 (c.1657) Self-Portrait, aged 51 (c.1657)

    Interesting Facts About Rembrandt

    1. Rembrandt started attending the University of Leiden when he was 14 years old, but as he found art more interesting than his studies, he left for Amsterdam to master his painting skills. Not long after he returned to Leiden, at the age of 22, where he started teaching art.
    2. Rembrandt's famous painting Night Watch is actually a nickname standing for tediously long original title – funnily enough, the painting is actually set at daytime, only the old dark and dirty varnish made it look nocturnal.
      Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq (1642) Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq (1642)
    3. Rembrandt is famous for painting himself into his paintings – here he is in the background of Night Watch
    4. In 1715, the forementioned painting was supposed to be brought to the town hall of Amsterdam. However, it was so big that it couldn’t simply fit on the wall – therefore, to hang it, it had to be cropped, and in its present state it’s actually missing some parts.
    5. January 13, 1911, September 14, 1975, and April 6, 1990 – what is common with these dates is that they mark the days when the Night Watch somehow provoked violent reactions from visitors, they actually attempted to slash it with a knife – or a more modern method, pouring sulphuric acid on it. Nevertheless, the painting still remains untouched
    6. There are many reasons why Rembrandt’s paintings stand out from others, but one is definitely the phenomena of “guiding the eye”. Apparently, Rembrandt’s painting technique enables the viewers’ eyes to be directed throughout the paintings on a specific route, as if Rembrandt consciously wanted to present a certain narrative by making sure where his paintings “begin and end.” As the study – mentioned in the article “The Magic of Rembrandt’s Painting Technique”- shows, it has been confirmed scientifically that Rembrandt knew how the human eye works, and did actually guide the viewers’ eyes with his brushstrokes.

    Rembrandt’s Painting Technique:

    Chiaroscuro, meaning “light-dark” in Italian, is technique used to create contrastive effect, especially in painting. Moreover, it’s not simply the strong contrast of light and dark surfaces, but according to Tate Britain’s Glossary, the chiaroscuro technique is generally only remarked upon when it is a particularly prominent feature of the work, usually when the artist is using extreme contrasts of light and shade"

    The effect of Chiaroscuro is very characteristic of Rembrandt’s paintings; he usually used dark shades of browns for shadows and pale yellow tones with white highlights to achieve an illuminating effect, as if his subjects were the sources of light.

    Danae (1636)
    Self Portrait (1628) Self Portrait (1628)
    Self-Portrait in a Gorget, (ca. 1628) Self-Portrait in a Gorget, (ca. 1628)

    More on Rembrandt's techniques:

    • How to Paint Chiaroscuro - https://sites.google.com/site/oilpaintingdemonstrations/how-to-paint-chiaroscuro-in-oils
    • Using the Secrets of the Master in Portrait Painting by Brigid Marlin - http://www.artofimagination.org/Pages/RembrandtTech.html
    • Reconstruction of Rembrandt”s “burnt plate oil” -http://www.northernlightstudio.com/new/burnoil.php

    What was Rembrandt’s colour palette?
    You can find more about it in the previous article by clicking here

    How can I paint like Rembrandt?

    Well, naturally, to acquire such skills as Rembrandt’s, you probably would’ve need the expertise of the master himself. Although, perhaps with some help of these videos you can learn the technique and pretend you’re a contemporary of the Dutch Baroque painter.

    [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8RLtL5NZhg[/embed]

     

    [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5YIEzmwfPA[/embed]

     

    Rembrandt Etchings

    Fortunately, Rembrandt wasn't only a talented painter: he took an interest in this particular printmaking technique - and became quite known from his etchings as well. In fact, he produced almost 300!

     Triumph of Mordecai Triumph of Mordecai
    The Three Crosses The Three Crosses

    Interested in printmaking techniques? Keep your eyes on the website, or sign up for the newsletter to hear about the arrival of the article!

    Still want more?

    Rembrandt style drawing - U Tube Clip
    Painting techniques from Rembrandt to Vermeer - U Tube Clip
    BBC Fine Art Collection 3 of 7 Rembrandt - U Tube Clip
    Why I Tried to Copy Rembrandt By Sarah Hart

    References:

    http://www.tate.org.uk/
    http://www.naturalpigments.com
    http://www.livescience.com
    http://www.rembrandtpainting.net

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