Carl likes to paint on a dark background on MDF that he has primed first and then paints plein air. He says that he prefers working outside as painting is easier as you can see what is there
First, he draws in chalk on to the prepared board covered in Vandyke brown, to work out the composition before starting to apply paint. He says he is creating a journey through painting using oil paints and believes the better the materials are, better the painting. Zest-it is used as a brush cleaner, and he also uses walnut oil to mix with the paint.
He paints some of the key areas in thin paint and then overlays a coat of fat paint around the figures. He is just getting colour on in different areas seeing how they react with each other. Because of his experience he knows what colour he wants and has a small book of colour mixes to refer to if he needs a specific colour. He then adds more light colours and starts to get some perspective on it.
There is no need to be too specific, now. He carries on building up the picture using a brush or tissue to rub some paint off as he will be adding more paint afterwards. The aim is to have all the surface covered before the break. He then decides to add some sky in. He can always put a darker colour on afterwards. This starts to give him a sense of unity towards which he can work.
Next, he continues to add paint in different areas to the background. The details will be in the middle of the composition as that is the focus of the painting. Continuing to work on the background, he picks out areas to work on. He likes to have a strong framework in his composition and mentioned how important it is to have your perspective right.
After the break, he starts to paint the tree and adds the sky between, before random yellow is applied to represent traffic lights etc. He then darkens up some areas making sure he is not too neat and adds pure titanium white to make parts stand out. He continues working on various parts of the painting using smaller brushes to add details and works in layers before adding leaves to the tree using a palette knife. He uses white beeswax to thicken the paint. More sky is added between tree branches, eventually adapting it to a twilight effect.
As the composition progresses, a rag is used to blend the sky, before branches are added and then more leaves using a range of similar colours. He washes out some of the chalk lines than aren't needed using thinner and a cloth is used to rub some areas, to blend them in. Towards the end he needs to colour balance the composition by using a continuity of colours, once the framework is in place.
He uses dabs of white and sometimes knocks these back as he says, “You don't often get pure white.” As the painting started to look Christmassy, he decides to add Christmas lights adding light areas where needed. Finishing touches are now added, and some areas are blended again before a few final brushstrokes are added and the painting is complete.
A super demonstration by a gifted artist. I'm sure everyone learnt something that will be of use. We look forward to further demonstrations from him.
A record of Saturday afternoon activities.