I restarted this commission yesterday and worked on it more today. I just wasn't happy with how the first version looked so I decided to make a new canvas and restart. I'm so happy that I did that and I also set up a new very basic palette. It's a palette that I used when I was at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) and I've decided to return to it with a few modifications. I'll list the palette below in case anyone's interested.
I'm also trying to focus less on technique and just enjoying the act of painting. That's also why I gave myself a basic palette, I just want to focus on the painting and not get bogged down with other techniques. I just want to paint with my own brush.
PAFA Basic Palette
Cadmium Red (medium)
Brown Red (any earth red is good, such as Venetian)
Green Gold (W+N, chromium oxide works also)
Remember, less is more.
I just started work on this new commission of a very cute Havanese dog, named Elvis. I got to meet him yesterday and he's such a sweet dog and very friendly.
I always have trouble with beginning a painting because I have really high expectations for myself and I want the painting to look good right away. But oil painting requires a long term vision and I've learned over the years that paintings progress gradually. I also forgot to oil out the canvas before I started to paint, which makes it more difficult. I'm going to let it dry and work more on it tomorrow or the next day.
I'm not sure if every artist feels this way, but I really dislike taking photos of my work. Which is probably why I don't do social media. Photos of my work never do justice to my paintings and I always feel unhappy about the way they look on my website. A lot of the photos I share of my work show a side angle of my paintings. The reason I do this is because I feel like it gives a better representation of my work. Part of the beauty of oil painting is the shine and the surface of the work.
On the other side, I've also noticed that some paintings look better in photos than in person. That may be an advantage in the computer age, but I would still rather have my work viewed in person. I've attached some photos that show some of my recent oil paintings and give a better sense of their surface quality and color.
I'm always on the hunt to try new oil painting products and I decided to try out Gamblin's Gamvar gloss varnish. For anyone new to varnishing: varnish is used after a painting has dried and the artist wants to bring back a richer surface. It brings back sunken in looking colors and there's many different types of varnish from matte to glossy. I personally prefer a gloss varnish. I had previously been using Winsor and Newton's gloss varnish.
The first thing I noticed about Gamvar is that it has almost no odor at all. This is really nice since it's good to varnish paintings indoors with no windows open. Varnishing outside or with windows open can cause dust and other particles to land on your canvas and set in when the varnish dries.
The second thing I like about the Gamvar is that the bottle is really easy to open; this might sound like an obvious feature, but Winsor and Newton has bottles with a black safety top that are SO ANNOYING to open and I usually end up breaking the tops off (Get on that W+N).
The Gamvar is also water-like in it's consistency, I really like this because a little bit of Gamvar spreads across the surface really nicely and goes a long way. Other varnishes dry really quickly and get sticky and tacky almost instantly.
I'm still waiting for the first coat of Gamvar to dry to see if I need another coat, but I have to say right now that Gamvar is the best oil painting varnish that I've used. I've used all types of varnish (including the traditional dammar and copal) and I love the way Gamvar looks and feels. Besides gloss, they also have a matte and satin finish, which I haven't used those but I imagine they're also really nice.
Thank you Gamblin for a terrific product, I won't be using any other varnish from now on.
*The images below show some progress shots as I used the Gamvar on some recent and older paintings. I'm going to see how the Gamvar dries and might apply a second coat after 24 hours.
UPDATE: After the first coat dried, the gloss lost a little shine so I decided to add a second coat. The first coat dried after 24 hours so I applied another thin coat and now it looks great.