I've been experimenting with thick paint recently and decided to share some of my insight as I continue to explore what works for me. This discussion applies to oil paint specifically. I also think it's relevant to point out that this way of painting requires a lot of drawing practice to pull it off effectively.
Two years ago, I took a trip to Spain and saw some works by Sorolla, Sargent and Velázquez which left me speechless. How could I capture that same feeling in my own work? That question rattled around my head ever since that trip.
I was recently on an en plein air hike and did a painting that really turned out badly. That bad painting sparked off a re-examination of my process that inspired this blog post. So what was missing? Or rather, what was I doing that I shouldn't have been doing? The main thing I was doing was being timid about my paint application. I was applying passages usually thinned to some degree with OMS. So I was covering the canvas, but there was a lifelessness that resulted as the painting dried.
This was also inspired by a recent webinar that I watched, hosted by George O'Hanlon from Natural Pigments. George discussed the problems with solvents and their use in painting, which got me thinking about my process.
1. Painting doesn't really begin until the entire surface is covered
2. Paint that's applied straight from the tube can be rubbed thinly without the need for OMS.
3. Thick paint is where the magic happens
4. If you're timid, then it won't work. You need concentration, not fear.
Below is this self portrait that I painted today, alla prima, in about 2 hours and you can see that some areas are more thinly applied (background and areas of the shirt), but this effect was achieved without OMS. I don't much care for oil painting that has the watery appearance of solvents, oil paint should be sculptural and strongly applied.
As I said, this bolder approach requires a level of draughtsmanship to be successful. For instance, I was working on this painting and noticed that the distances between the eyes, nose and mouth was slightly off. I obliterated the mouth and nose and reestablished them at different distances. I trust my eye and if something feels wrong, then I have no fear in ruining it to rebuild it. However, this can get out of hand and turn into mud very quickly if you don't have a firm command of your drawing.
Those are my thoughts for today and I hope it inspires you to paint more boldly.
“If you see a thing transparent, paint it transparent. Don’t get the effect by a thin stain showing the canvas through. That’s a mere trick.” – Sargent
This past weekend I went painting en plein air with my friend Asem and ran into some frustration. Sometimes a painting doesn't go well and there's nothing you can do except to learn something from it. The weather was beautiful regardless and we had a fun time hiking to our painting spot. If you live around Bergen County, NJ, then check out our PCD En Plein Air events that I host.
With the frustration of yesterday, I realized the importance of painting what you enjoy and what you're inspired by. I did a painting today of a scene that I've wanted to paint for a while and it came out great. While I was painting, I was thinking about a Sargent painting, Venetian Glass Workers (1880/2). I've seen the painting a few times in person in Chicago and it always stuck with me.
I'm also proud to announce that our Pushing Colored Dirt fall 2020 courses are open for registration. I'm teaching a bunch of different adult courses and you can check out all the awesome instructors that are a part of our crew. If you have questions you can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I'll be writing again soon because I haven't written enough recently. Have an awesome week.
Hey everyone, I wanted to share a post because I was painting today and also making a birthday which resulted in a big revelation for me. I was painting one of my favorite scenes which is the flower pots outside my house and I ended up being really feel proud of the resulting painting. I even had a rabbit pose for a few minutes in our front lawn so I captured him as a blob of impasto on the canvas.
So I've been painting and drawing a lot recently and I'm currently working on a commission of two cats. All this work and practice has opened my eyes to some truths about my process. I used to think that a good way of working was to pretend that everything that I painted was as a commission. This put a certain amount of positive pressure on myself to do the best work possible. I still agree with this idea in principle, but I've shifted it to just do the best work possible for myself.
I've always put a lot of pressure on myself to absolutely do the best work possible and I've reminded myself that doing my best work is for me and not for someone else. Even if I never get another commission again (which obviously I hope doesn't happen) I would still do my absolute best. I've got one life to live (that I know of) and I want to be damn proud of it.
Another thing to keep in mind is that different projects call for different procedures, but your natural style will emerge regardless of the procedural execution; by this, I mean that whether you paint fast, slow, carefully, or slipshod--your natural essence will still emerge. This is something that I've found through many experiments.
I have to remember to share more on my site, but I've been posting a ton on my instagram @ericsantoli and I've been busy with Julian over at Pushing Colored Dirt, so forgive my latency and don't confuse it for lethargy.
Honored and very excited to be working with this brilliant company. Click this photo below to read the article about how and why I use Natural Pigments products.