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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

One of my Favorite Wildflower Painting Techniques

'Freedom'          11x14            pastel        Karen Margulis
painting available $165
Never has watching paint dry been more fun. There is nothing wishy washy about it.  It's bold. It's rich. It is usually quite magical to watch.  When I want to start a painting with a bang this is the underpainitng technique I turn to.....Oil Stain Underpaintings!

'Save the Bees'            8x10            pastel          ©Karen Margulis
It is simple to do. All you need is a few tubes of oil paints, stiff cheap brush and some odorless mineral spirits (OMS). You also need to use a surface that can get wet. I used Uart for today's paintings.  It is called oil stain because you are basically staining the paper with the thinned oil paint. If the paint is applied too thickly it will fill the tooth of the paper and you won't be able to add much pastel.

detail of painting. Notice the drips of the underpainting
Here are a few tips for Oil Stain Underpaintings
  • Use a limited palette of paint colors. You are less likely to mix muddy color with only a few colors. I use red, blue and yellow.
  • Avoid using black or white paint. You want nice thin and transparent color. Adding white will make it opaque and chalky. Black can be dull.
  • Make sure your paint is thinned with the OMS (I use Gamsol)  I like for the paint to be the consistency of tea.  If you can see your brushstrokes in the paint then it is too thick.
  • If the paint is thin enough, the underpainting should dry in under an hour.
  • Begin with the darkest paint. I like to mix red and blue for a nice dark purple.
  • As the paint dries and the OMS evaporates, you will hopefully see interesting weblike drips occur.
  • When the underpainting is dry,  it is time to add pastel. I use a very light touch and build up my layers... very slowly. I will leave areas of the underpainting untouched if I like the way it is working.

several underpaintings done at the same time

I don't often do oil stain underpaintings because there is a bit of clean up involved. When I do, I often do serval underpaintings at once. Not only does this save clean up time....it is always good to practice underpainting techniques. The more you do....the better they will be.


robertsloan2art said...

Rich, beautiful paintings! I can see why you do several underpaintings at once, that totally makes sense because of the cleanup. And maybe wanting to use up the paint squeezed out on the palette, something that used to bug me about all tube paints was the waste. Unless you paint every day with them it'll just dry up and go away.

BJR said...

I wish I had the money to buy the first painting in this post!...(well, the second one, too, if it wasn't sold!) These are awesome!! Your flower paintings take my breath away...I look and look and never tire of them. Always seeing something I had missed previous. Never stop painting them...I enjoy each one. ;)

Sandi G said...

All of these paintings are so georgeous! I save all of my Pastel Journals and I'm going to reread your article!
The oil underpainting has a different glow.