The Start of Another Art Class: Color Explorations – Working with Oils

Before my next art class started I received an email suggesting I bring photos to work from.  If I did not have any, the art center would have some available.  We are supposed to be working with three mediums:  oils, acrylics, and pastels.  Should be a long, but interesting week.  

We are having class on the second floor of the art center.  It’s an open room with tables setup in the middle.  I see there are suppose to be a total of six students taking the class.  I strategically pick a seat at a corner of the table and not in the middle.  Since we’ll be working with several mediums including painting I want to make sure I have enough elbow room.  

I brought two photos with me.  One was a coneflower and the other was the infamous habanero peppers from Grand Cayman.  On instinct, I selected the pepper picture to use during class.  I wasn’t too sure how much time we would spend on each medium and so I thought peppers could be quickly drawn.  

I was watching the other younger students pick out landscape scenes that include beaches and mountains.

Our art instructor tonight was Emily.  She also taught the Drawing Explorations class I took back in May.  

We were given sketch paper (8×10) and told to do a rough sketch of our photo.  Once that was completed we had to flip our paper over and cover most of paper with graphite.  Ahhhh…we are going to trace our design onto our canvas.  Clever.

I carefully placed my sketch paper over my 8×10 canvas and drew the outlines of my peppers.  Here’s what I ended up with:  

4_art_class_oil_peppers_9144

Next, Emily did a demonstration on how to prime our canvas with a light brushing of burnt sienna and a small mix of walnut alkyd (thins the paint and increases drying time).  Like giving the canvas a good light wash of color.  That way we are not staring at a white canvas.  So merrily I went with my brush across my canvas only to find that it was not a light brushing I produced.  I guess I have a heavy hand tonight.  I could barely see the outlines of my peppers.  No worries.  I know these peppers very well and could probably draw them with my eyes closed.  

Our first official instruction was to paint the dark values first.  Emily showed us how to mix the colors from the standard tubes we were given.  We were using M. Graham oil paints.  In our set was the basic Ultramarine Blue, Naphthol Red, Azo Yellow, Titanium White, and Pthalo Green.  The paint consistency is very smooth.  There was also tubes of brown available for us to use.  M. Graham paints are walnut-oil based and are non-toxic.  Solvent free.  Very much artist quality. Interesting.   

I grabbed some Ultramarine blue and burnt sienna and mixed a dark color for the shadows under and around the peppers.  For the shadows, I added some color to give a slight reflection of color under each pepper.  Once done, I squinted at my peppers to find their dark values.  I saw a dark green with blue, dark orange with a bit of red, and dark purple with some red.  I mixed my colors and made sure I had enough so I could complete the peppers.  

I worked the dark values over the peppers.  Before I knew it, it was time to clean up before class ended for the night.  We dipped our brushes into the walnut oil and cleaned out as much paint as we could.  Then we went over to the sink and used Dawn detergent to get the remaining paint out of the brushes.  

Unfortunately, my painting looked a bit weird/wonky and I forgot to take a picture of it at this stage.  

My take away from class:  the walnut oil is used to remove color from the brushes and also increases the flow and slows the drying process of the paint.  The walnut alkyd medium thins the color and accelerates the drying and enhances the adhesion between layers.  It also increases surface sheen.  Must remember to go lightly with the initial wash of color over the canvas.  

Canvas used:  8″ x 10″

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