Exercise 4.4

This first image was the one I learnt the most from. There were points when I didn’t feel I would be able to complete it as the girl’s face continually went wrong.  I worked over it and wiped it a number of times and in the end made the error of trying to paint in the base layers of colour using Liquin fine detail rather than Gamsol. This meant that the head area was all shiny in comparison to the rest of the painting which was matt (a problem that had not occurred to me whilst I was working).  After realising this I then had to go back and paint in base layers of colour mixing the paint with Gamsol before putting any detail in.

sealifelayer1 ex4-4jw1


The use of liquin impasto has enabled me to create some lovely texture particularly in the fish and the boy’s coat.  The rest of the second layer was more subtle with the use of the impasto but it has added strength of colour and enabled me to tighten up the overall look of the painting.  There is still disharmony with the way I have painted the girl’s face – it is at odds in style with the rest of the piece.  On reflection I can see the merit in completing each new layer at the within the same sitting.  It is as though I have been unable to reconnect with my style of painting from the time I added the impasto layer.  Initially the girl’s face went wrong because I was using too much impasto and couldn’t draw the detail accurately enough. I can see I should have persisted, wiped the area clean whilst it was still wet and try again.

What have I learnt?

  • I find painting fine detail that is very small quite difficult with impasto mediums
  • to think about the finish that is required within the painting.  E.g. Gamsol (matt) vs (liquin fine detail (shiny).
  • try and finish each layer every time I have started a new one – keeps the fluidity and cohesion with the mark making and palette
  • the under layer can be vague and more about the energy of the work rather than bringing in detail.  It can almost be a structure for me to hang the next layer on, however it looks.  Just need to be clear and set my intention when I begin.


luclayer1ex4-1 ex4-4luc1

The second layer in this piece was painted using Gamblin Galkyd Gel.  This was an enjoyable medium to use that retained movement and flexibility whilst creating depth and texture within the paint.  I was able to think further about my tonal choices in the under layer when mixing up my palette for this piece – for example, there was too much red in some of the tones initially and there was also a lack of cohesion with some of my colour choices.  I had also created a ‘grubby’ looking area under the nose which needed attending to.  What have I learnt?

  • That I enjoy this particular impasto medium and want to experiment with it further
  • that errors in the first layer can easily be rectified
  • that impasto brings a three dimensional quality to the paint that adds a completely different energy to the work
  • that attention to tonal detail is incredibly important – really need to be bold and add in the darks as darkly as is necessary.


bathroomlayer1 ex4-4sink

This final piece looks a little half hearted in comparison to the other two probably because of the lack of colour and interest.  I used Gamblin cold wax medium for the thicker layer, however, I forgot to add Gamsol or one of the other Galkyd mediums to make the paint more flexible.  It was, therefore, hard to move and was quite gritty in its texture and finish.  I used the second layer to add texture to the sink, tiles, napkins (on the shelf) and the white background behind my reflection in the mirror.  I had the idea that it would give an even quality but make those areas more prominent (so question my choice as to why I used it for the wall behind my reflection?).  I would then add varnish to the tiles and sink area where necessary to define those areas further.

What hasn’t worked is my idea in this piece.  It is a boring image and I ground to a halt as to what to do next because a) I am unfamiliar with painting interiors in this way,  b) the colour palette holds little interest and c) there is also a level of ‘precision’ in the way I have painted – I have lost the fluidity and energy and ended up being too tight.

The one part of the painting I am pleased with is the area around the taps.  I have used the second thicker layer to go round the taps but have left the shadows unpainted so the under-layer shows through.  I like the difference in textures here and it adds a nice tension to that area.


What have I learnt?

  • whilst an image might have intellectual interest it needs to hold it own with palette and composition.  This image lacks strength in both of those areas and this shows through.
  • I am unsure what to do with a painting if I were to work on 3, 4, 5 layers – what comes next?  I need to start thinking through process for my own method of painting with oils
  • to think about finish when considering use of mediums. This exercise was done as a tester for cold wax medium, however, as it is so matt in finish I need to remember that when choosing it in the future.

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