The Third of Five Workshops with David Chen
When I began training with David Chen, my goal was to not only learn the principles of Modern Impressionist painting, but also to ‘loosen up’ my style a bit from what i saw as sometimes ‘stiff’ and contrived results. Sometimes the details become so important that I forgot to place the subject within and connected to the foreground and background in which it was situated.
Context is just as important as your focus and main subject, and when the subject began to look disjointed, unrelated or worse, like it has been stuck or pasted on top of an unrelated scene, is when I start wondering how this could have been avoided. My thought was that if I could put more planning and less effort into my paintings, that would be a start, but what kind of thought and what kind of effort?
Adding Texture and Volume to Your Paintings
If you have ever tried to create volume to your paintings by using your paints alone, you have probably encountered the same problems that I have in the past.
Titanium White vs Zinc White in Winsor & Newton Oils
You may have grown up like me, thinking that there is just white. What could possibly be the difference between whites in paints, surely they are all the same, but possibly with different pigments or mediums to blend them with.
In this quick blog, I will discuss the differences between the two most commonly used white in oil paints and how you can gain best use from each one.
Blacks in Oil Paints
When I first began painting I was told to avoid using black. It was a colour (or tone) that was to be avoided in preference for colours. It was never really explained to me, I just accepted that it was the case.
Without really examining paintings from the past, and how blacks have been used by master artists like Rembrandt, it could be easy t take the word for a well-meaning teacher or colleague about the use of black, but it is there in the paints, for a reason.
One of my students recently asked my about the use of masking fluid for water colour painting. This useful tool was introduced to me only a few years ago, and it is very helpful for keeping areas of your paper pristine for later washes or for the white to show through.
The accepted way of painting water colour is not to use white, but to allow the white of your paper to show through and around your colours. this method also helps the painting to look more ‘painterly’ and can create a sarkle and added dimension to the light.
If you are fairly new to oil paints, you may not have encountered transparency in the various colour yet. Even for those of us who have been painting for a while, remembering which colours are transparent usually means double checking the back of the tube.
To begin with I will talk about what I mean by transparency in oil paints.
I have been using acrylic paints for several years now and something that I have known about them but have not investigated is why some acrylics tend to change colour when they dry.
You may have had this experience before. You mix a nice bold colour and apply it to your painting, then when it is dry, the colour has lightened or changed in some way, becoming less vibrant for example.
White, like black, is an under estimated and misunderstood tone in oil painting. Most people think you just add white to any colour to lighten it. this is a basic and common mistake. By adding white to your colours too early and by too large an amount, you will will end up with what is called a ‘chalky’ finish.
If you have ever noticed that the colours in your paintings looks dull and lacking in tonal depth and contrast, this could be because, as I did in the past, you have been adding the wrong white, too early, and in the wrong quantity.
Final in the Series of Five Monthly Workshops with David Chen
Loosening up Versus Painting Against the Contour
If you are like me, and admire the work of the Impressionist painters, you may look atyour work and think that it looks too ‘tight’ and wish you could ‘loosen up’ your method of painting.
Like me, you may also be confused as to how you go about doing this. This is where the concept of loosening up is usually confused with the method of painting against contours.
In this final workshop for the semester, this very portant method, that will help your paintings to gain some of that more immediacy and freshness, so often seen in the finest impressionist artworks, can begin to be understood and applied.
Fourth in the Series of Monthly Workshops with David Chen
Relating Objects in the Background to Those in the Rest of Your Composition
Most of us are aware of the concept of the foreground, middle and background divisions in compositions. These planes help the artists to create depth in a scene so that the viewer gets the impression of looking into a painting, not just at a two dimensional flat surface.
When creating these planes, however, we need to think about the relationships between items and objects in each of these areas. without a flow, or reltaitonship in a painting, we end up with a load of disjointed and unrelated objects that have no ‘conversations’ going on between them.