Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Experimenting with Water Mixable Oils

Oh dear, it's been so long since I lasted posted!  Life sometimes gets away from us though and so does my art.  I completely missed our 2 feet 'snow of the century' (sixteen inches at the house) as I was out of town, so no pictures; however I may create some from the videos my hubby made.  I would have loved to take a walk in the hollow, but I was spending time with my mother at the time, and no silly snow can come near topping time spent with Mother. 

 Also, a few days before Christmas, we lost our beloved Gracie, the other Lynx-point Siamese to a horrible disease - Vaccine Associated Sarcoma (VAS).  It is still so hard to believe that our two special cats were with us for only 5 short years and that their lives were cut short by diseases we never even heard of.  Layla died from 'Bobcat fever', which is a disease carried from a tick-bite.  It was even stranger that they became ill so soon after we had taken in the three cats that had belonged to my husband's aunt upon her passing.  Layla became ill only a week after they arrived.  It's strange too how we learn about life lessons through death, not just the loss of our human relatives and friends, but how much we can learn through the loss of our animal friends as well.  I just hope the world of veterinary science is working hard and fast on a cure for both of these dreaded (which it seems surely could be preventable) diseases.

Our beloved Gracie

and Layla, 2005-2010

So, as life goes, I've been busy with personal things other than art, which explains the sparse posting, but I did manage to start the painting below back before Christmas. And I so appreciate those of you who follow me for staying with me!

I have to admit I've been purchasing the Winsor Newton water-mixable oils here and there each time I would venture to the local craft store, knowing that I wanted to experiment with them.  It just seemed a natural transition since I love working with watercolor so much but I've missed the texture of oils.  So when I began this painting, it was fun and I was thinking it was very much like oils, but I soon discovered there are some things that are annoying.  One is that although it's called 'water-soluble', I don't think the makers of this product intend for it to be used like a water-based paint such as watercolors or even acrylics, where one uses water as they paint for thinning, blending, etc.  When I tried this, not only did the viscosity change to a degree that I found unpleasant to work with, it made the brush harder to control.  So I went to my friend, Google, and did some research.  I found that others had these problems too and that I was using the medium the wrong way.  In other words, the advise I found from experienced water-soluble oil painters, was to only use the 'water' for cleaning purposes and occasional thinning of the paint when mixing on the palette.  Instead of using water for blending on the canvas, use the 'water mixable oil painting medium'.  I used the Winsor &Newton brand simply because it was being sold locally along with their 'Artisan' water mixable oils.  Come to find out, on the forums, this seemed to be the medium of choice also.  I resolved to using the water mainly for clean-up of my brushes and just a tad for thinning and mixing of on the palette.  Then I'd place a very small amount of the medium occasionally on the palette for dipping just the tip of my brush into before picking up a color.

The colors of my palette were: alizarin crimson, cad. red deep, Indian red, raw umber, raw sienna, yellow ochre, cad. yellow pale hue, lemon yellow, thalo green, french ultramarine blue, cerulean blue, and titanium white.

TIP: I painted from one of my photos which I kept individually on my desktop on my computer.  That way all I had to do was click on the photo (using my Windows 'Picasa' I could instantly enlarge to fill the whole screen with my image) and I was ready to paint.  Saved the time of looking for it each time I had the urge and time to paint!  Just find your photo, right-click on it, and choose 'send to desktop'.

Stage 1 of Study: Cone Flowers in the Garden

The painting above began with a free feeling of just having fun.  It has been 8 years since I last worked with oils, so I was excited to 'play'.  However, that quickly turned to frustration when I started on the flowers, as I very seldom do close-ups of flowers like this and I did not want to get in the trap of trying to render too much detail.  It was also my first time to paint my favorite, the cone flower, and every where I turned on the canvas was a challenge - the cones, the petals- how many? Oh, it doesn't matter, just put some in! The stems- good grief, make them look natural but not too big.  Oh no now what, that stem is as honkin' big as a tree!  Exhausted after I won't admit how long, I put down the brush, slapped some Glad Wrap over my plastic palette of WB oils, shut it in my studio cabinet and said (with a few other choice words I won't mention here) "Later".  Then just let it 'simmer' for a few days.  Actually, those few days turned into weeks, but I would go back to it always with a fresh spirit and try again.

Stage 2 of: Study: Cone Flowers in the Garden
The above painting is where I'm now at, and I'm about to call it quits on this one.  Then again, like so many artists I have a hard time with that.  Knowing when to quit, I mean.

I have to share with you another problem I ran into while 're-working' this painting.  It developed too much paint in one area, right in the middle of the picture, and my goal was to let the canvas texture  show through on this one.  So my dilemma was how to get rid of the access paint, as it had already dried.  Water alone won't do it of course because the chemical reaction has already taken place once dried.  After 'Googling', I used the suggestion of just using a very small amount of turpenoid to get back down to the canvas.  Then started over.  It worked fine.

The second and most annoying problem I had was the 'sheen' created by the WN water mixable oil medium.  Because I only 'occasionally' dipped into it, there are shiny spots in different areas on the painting, but I think that can be leveled out by just covering the whole painting with a matt medium.  I happened to come across an original oil I have when cleaning the other day by someone who's been painting for many years.  His painting also has areas of sheen on it where he used oil medium.  Is this normal?  I'm not familiar enough with oils to know is it's okay to have these reflective 'spots' on one's painting, but personally I prefer all or nothing.  If anyone has any suggestions or tips for me and others on these problems with Water-soluble oils or painting with oils in general, please comment,  I'd love to hear them!  Thanks.

I will say, overall, I thoroughly enjoyed painting the flowers and working with a new and different medium and I'd encourage anyone who may be 'in a funk' to try something different too. Whether it's working 2-D or 3-D, or whatever art form, just to step out of the box can be not only refreshing but a new insight to the medium you currently work in. It also gave me spring fever painting the flowers from my garden so I hope to paint more in the future and also more nature 'objects' other than just landscapes.  'Til then, happy creating, Folks...