Sunday, April 4, 2021

Oil Stick Demo

(Can't see the video? Here's the link.)

I recently decided to make a large painting of one of my favorite scenes—one of the candy-striped cliffs that tower over a nearby lake. I've painted the scene many times in a smaller format, from different angles and in different seasons, but I had a hankering to do something much larger. In my studio, I had a 36x36 gallery-wrap canvas that seemed just perfect. So, I got to work, pulling out reference paintings and photos and playing with design ideas with vine charcoal on newsprint.

You might ask, How can a square format be suitable? The square is, indeed, foreign to the landscape. Usually, painters feel that a wider format—3:4, 1:2 or even 1:3—suits the landscape better. After all, the landscape is full of horizontals, and the wide format permits a vista and gives the viewer some room in which to breathe. But for my painting, I wanted to do a more intimate view of the cliff, and I saw all kinds of possibilities with diagonals and verticals that would divide up the square in dynamic and interesting ways. Here are a couple of my design sketches:

A 36x36 takes a lot of paint for the start. For paintings of this size, I like to begin with oil sticks rather than a brush. Oil sticks (or oil bars or paint sticks), which are simply pigment mixed with just enough linseed oil to form a crayon, are perfect for the initial drawing and block-in. Completely compatible with oil paint, the sticks, with the tips softened by dipping them in OMS briefly, let you create a beautiful, soft line. As for blocking in shapes, it's just like when you were a child, filling in between the lines in your coloring book, and then you can take a brush, dampened with OMS, to spread the color around.

At the top of the blog is a video demonstration of how I used Shiva Paintstiks to draw and block in. (In my next post, I'll continue and finish the painting.) Can't see the video? Here's the link.

By the way, there is still time to take advantage of a good discount on Plein Air Live. I will be demonstrating in gouache on Beginner's Day. For more information or to register, go here.

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