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Sunday, 15 March 2015

Painting with Oils on Paper

A while ago I did a blog on strengthening paper with gesso. I showed you how it was possible to turn any paper, even printer paper of 80 gsm, into paper that was strong enough to handle paint. This blog follows up on that one, showing you how I continue with oil colours on one of the papers I prepared in this way.

So let's recap first. I used normal 80 gsm paper and then painted it with two coats of gesso. Once the gesso was dry, I applied a coat of acrylic paint over the whole page, working very wet and streaky, blending blue and white.  It is this prepared paper that I will be working on today, continuing with oils on top of the acrylic background. Since oil colours take a while to dry, I will add my journaling first. The journaling is done with a Pigma Pen and is a poem I wrote after I finished a great novel a few years ago, an ode to great authors:
ALTERNATE REALITY(To Dalene and all other great authors) In the aftermath of our encounterI find my existence to have shiftedto a world that you’ve createdwhen you offered me a lift along your way. We were hampered by the awkwardnessof the newly introduced inside the opened door,I,  pass bearer to your destination, entering uncertainlyinto a foreign land filled with strange faces And then the tide carried me away enchanted,engrossed and unable to disentangle myselffrom this life parallel to my own, where Ishift status from immigrant to citizen And with the last chapter completed, the book lies closed,‘though I am yet not in the now, but live where you were then ...

It is time to start painting and I will be using a flat brush from one of my favourite range of brushes by Pro Art, the Pink Range.

The line work will be done with a Rigger Brush, and certainly one of the best I've ever used is one by Daler-Rowney.

I start by squeexing a little bit of Rose Madder Oil Colour onto a lid. When doing small paint jobs such as these I rarely bother with a proper palette.

Loading my brush with paint, I make 4 little circles in a 'square' pattern to form my flower petals. I simply put the flat brush down, applying quite a bit of pressure so that the bristles bend over and twist the brush in a quick wrist movement. I then use Deep Cadmium Yellow and make a circle in the same fashion in the center of each of the flowers. I clean the brush by wiping it on a paper kitchen towel and make random yellow circles all over.

I use a rubber Paint Pusher to draw twirls in the yellow circles to add a bit of interest.


I use Terre Verte Green and the Rigger brush to paint the lines connecting the flowers and circles.

I revert back to the flat brush to paint the leaves. A round brush may be easier to use for this.

The same flat brush is used to paint the inner circles of the yellow 'flowers' in green.

Again I use the same flat brush to add a smear of green to each flower petal to create the illusion of depth. Because I am working wet-on-wet the colours will affect each other.

Just like that the quick illustration is finished, but it will take a few days to dry, so leave it in a warm dry place until it is touch dry before putting it away.

I'll add a few quick words about cleaning brushes when working with oil colours. The first thing to do is to remove the excess paint from the brush by wiping it with a paper towel.

Rinse the paint out of your brush by dipping it in oil. I use cheap linseed oil I buy in litre bottles from the hardware store. Others use baby oil. All you really need is a good clean oil wash. Work into the bristles, making sure you get all of the paint out.

The next step is optional and I only do this when I have stubborn paint that won't come out of the bristles. I often get these results when painting the circles we did in this project. I therefore try to use my older brushes when painting circles. Wash the brush in turpentine. When finished, wash the brush in lukewarm soapy water (I use dish-washing liquid). If you have dedicated oil painting brushes, you can dip them in clean oil before putting them away. If you do not have dedicated brushes, simply store them after washing in soapy water.

Follow up:
Since writing the blog, I have been asked two very interesting questions. The first was if the painting could be rolled, if painted with oils on gessoed paper. The next was if it would not crack. As you know, whenever I am confronted by a question like this, I endeavor to immediately find the answer out. I took out my painting from the blog above to put it to the test. This it what it looks like now:

I rolled the painting rather loosely one way before rolling it tightly in the opposite direction. This would stretch the paint in all possible ways. If it was going to crack, I would want to know it.

I had a bit of trouble getting it to lie flat again when I was done, but it showed no signs of cracks.

I zoomed in on two places where the paint was a trifle thicker so you could see for yourselves how well it handled this kind of rough treatment.

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