Starting again!

'Harbourside, Irvine'

'Harbourside, Irvine'

It’s been a long time since I did some painting using oil paint ….probably about seven or eight years. On Wednesday afternoon though, I finally got the oil paints back out and slapped a very pale yellow onto the surfaces of two new canvases. It was quite strange. I’d forgotten quite how different the feel of the paint was from the acrylic I normally use…..and of course there was the strong smell of the oil paint in the studio too. It was good and quite exciting to be getting back to this type of paint, but it was kind of scary too. Although I still have much to learn about using acrylics, I certainly feel quite confident these days when handling them ….with the oil paint on the brush for the first time in years, it was a different thing ….if not a feeling of panic then certainly trepidation.

One of the reasons I first changed from oil to acrylic was that, (as I’ve told a few people) I’m a bit impatient and didn’t like the time it took for oil colour to dry. At the time I didn’t have the technical ability to paint confidently, wet on wet. My small paintings took a long time and although I think I ended up with some quite good little paintings, they did have the tendency to look as if they’d taken an age.

By moving to acrylic I hoped I could work faster and in doing so, create fresher, faster marks and brush strokes. I think this has worked well up to a point and as my paintings tend to be built up in many overlapping layers of paint, using a fast drying paint has been ideal. I’ve worked hard over these last few years to get vibrancy out of the acrylic colours and I’ve learnt a lot about mixing and applying colour. Without really thinking about it, I’ve developed a fairly distinctive palette.

'Harbour Blues IV'

'Harbour Blues IV'

I have over the years bought and tried many different commercial colours but these days tend to fall back on just eight main colours, plus of course, white. I do own a small tube of black paint but I’ve had this for years and it’s rare indeed for me to use it. I do use a number of different painting mediums from ones that thicken the acrylic to gloss and matt glazes and varnishes. I have many pots of paint on or under my bench that I’ve bought but find little use for …I can mix most of my colours from the main bunch, but it is nice to have these extra pots and as my paintings develop I’m sure most of them will get put to use. That is, all except one pot ….of fluorescent pink!!! Ahhhhh! I bought it by mistake last year, thinking I’d picked up a pot of permanent Geranium. I couldn’t quite believe it when I got it back to the studio and realised my mistake ….the joy of fuzzy eyes! To start with I conned myself into thinking I’d find a use for it …or could mix it into something else ….WRONG! The pot sat underneath my bench luminously glaring up at me, challenging me to find a use for it. I couldn’t even give it away. I did ask a couple of my colleagues but I think they thought I was taking the proverbial! I really don’t like throwing things away but in the end this 500ml pot of fluorescent paint, ended its days in the wheelie bin.

So then, when I ordered some new oil paints the other week I restricted myself to the normal eight colours, some turps, linseed oil and a small bottle of Liquin. Despite knowing that oil paints take longer to dry ….I was still somewhat dismayed to find the first layer of paint still wet when I got to the studio yesterday ….I have a lot to learn but it’s really exciting to be starting again. Hopefully some of the things I’ve learnt while using the acrylics will put me in a good position now I’m returning to using oils …but there’s going to be much to learn and much trial and error I think. It’s great though, that I now have a studio that is big enough to accommodate my working in both oil and acrylic. Now, when I’m waiting for oil paint to dry, I can move to my other palette and continue with the acrylics on a different painting. It’s all go!

'Harbour Blues'

'Harbour Blues'

The images that accompany this blog are of several of my earlier small oil paintings.

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