Monday, 18 June 2012

Oil and water

We  took the train down to Weymouth in Dorset on the South Coast last week. I didn't get enough time to sketch while we were there, but I did manage to get a few reference photos of the area including some of the picturesque working fishing harbour, the impressive breakwaters that help to form one of the largest man-made harbours in the world, the ancient and modern wartime defences and some lovely views of the nearby Isle of Portland.

Portland is a rocky promontory that is accessible only by a causeway from the mainland. The island houses a small population, located in a handful of villages that are scattered around the undulating terrain. It is also home to three lighthouses, including the famous Portland Bill lighthouse, Pulpit Rock, a precarious looking rock formation on the southern tip of the island that is continually being beaten by the crashing waves of the English Channel far below (and with a view that is not for the fainthearted). Portland also houses a prison, which makes it a kind of British Alcatraz I guess!

Much of Portland has been quarried for its white-grey limestone, the stone being used to build many famous buildings including St Paul's Cathedral and Buckingham Palace in London and the UN headquarters in New York! This first painting is a small pochade of the view from Weymouth looking west to the dark forbidding silhouette of the Isle of Portland, painted in water mixable oils.

Portland, oil on canvas board,  6in x 8in
  I have always struggled with acrylics, never knowing whether to use them as watercolours or as a thick paste for oil techniques. For this second pochade, painted from imagination and visual memory, I treated them purely like oil paints. I even used the same brushes as I did for the first painting, after they had been thoroughly cleaned of course! I even added some water mixable oil by mistake for the distant coastline but then decided to scrape this area out and replace it with acrylic paint of a similar colour and a little white to suggest the chalk cliffs. I'll remember to put my oil tubes away to avoid any confusion next time!

Dorset chalk coastline, acrylic on canvas board,  6in x 8in

Happy painting!

22 comments:

  1. Wow, what an action in your paintings. Brilliant Michael.

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    1. Thank you Renske! I'm pleased that the action in the waves and skies came across.

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  2. Lovely movement in your skies, Michael. I've just started playing with acryllics and oils too, and am finding it simultaneously challenging and very exciting learning to work in a medium that is so different to watercolour.

    I look forward to seeming more of your oils and acryllics.

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    1. Thank you Vandy! This is the third time (in a long time) that I've had a go at acrylics. It is a challenge to use a different medium and I find that it also seems to help when you go back to your preferred medium. A change is as good as a rest - or so they say!

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  3. Wonderful blues, Michael! I had troubles with acrylics for the same reason, but I'd like to try again one day.

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    1. Thank you Judy! It is such a different way of working but I'd love to master a more solid medium like oils, pastels or acrylics. I'm still trying to master watercolour too of course LOL.

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  4. Hola Michael.
    It's a joy to see your new works. You have achieved great skies and capture the movement of the sea. The results say you get on very well with acrylics and oils. I like to paint with acrylics and experiment with them.
    The two paintings are wonderful.
    Un abrazo.

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    1. Hola Conchi.
      It's a joy to get such lovely comments like yours too! I'm not so sure I get on well with them but I do like the ability to correct mistakes - something that is so much more difficult in watercolour as you will know so well yourself!

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  5. Great top painting. I really like that sky. Oil & acrylics? why not!?

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    1. Thank you Sue! Yes, Oil and acrylic is fine ... but not in the order I did it! It probably wouldn't have made a great deal of difference to have added acrylic over the oil layer for such a small area.

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  6. Water mixable oils are a medium I don't know but it sounds interesting. Do you mix them like watercolors ? You made some stunning sky's here ! Portland really sounds like one of the places I would like to visit, love the rough wind and waves.

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    1. Hi Jane and thank you! I use W&N Artisan but there are other good brands of water mixable oil paints. They are almost odourless and you can dilute the paint with water and wash the brushes out clean in water too, so there is no need for smelly thinners. They are still fundamentally opaque oil paints, but formulated so that the oil binder will mix with water. Yes indeed, Portland is quite a good place if you like bracing weather and rough seas!

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  7. Both lovely painting Michael. Well done for using Acrylics. It has payed off mate.
    All the best.
    Vic.

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    1. Thank you Vic! I'm a long way from accomplishing what you and Harry can with your plein air work. I have got a nice small set of Galeria tubes so I can take those out in my pochade now and not have to worry about drying times and all the extra weight from big oil paint tubes and all those other chemicals you need!

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  8. Very beautiful depiction of the sea!

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    1. Thank you for your lovely comment Blaga!

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  9. The oil is fab, Michael. It feels more self assured than the acrylic. Perhaps that is your new forte? :) xx

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  10. Thank you Pat! Hmm, that's interesting, and I think echoes other comments. Personally, I thought the acrylic looked more realistic, but I guess also less painterly, so I know what you mean! Yes, I do feel more assured with oils, but they are SO messy! I'm just catching up with everyone, so I'll be over to yours soon!

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  11. Good Morning Michael,

    Both are lovely, but must say my favorite is the oil. You have accomplished lovely tones and you handling of the water is magnificent. My husband is always saying my water is to flat.
    Well done Michael.

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    1. Good morning Joan and thank you very much! I really appreciate your kind comments. I really enjoy oils as there's lots of time to correct mistakes, unlike watercolours. Water is so difficult to capture isn't it? I'm really pleased that you liked it :)

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  12. Thank you for the history lesson, Michael! What a wonderful art-filled trip! Nice that you broke out different mediums... the water soluble oils are perfect, but my favorite of the two is the one done in acrylics. I often have mixed up tube colors before... now I have them separated into their own boxes. Great that you are out and about again. You really are branching out in the mediums as well. Hoping your summer has started off just right! Hugs!

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    1. Hi Rose and thank you very much! Dorset is a truly beautiful place and full of things to paint around every corner :) I'm normally organised when I paint too but when I switched to do the acrylic I made the mistake of not packing the oil paints away first :) The jury is still out on whether I prefer the W/S oils or the acrylics best ... it's swings and roundabouts really ... but watercolours are still where my true passion lies! Hope you're having a great summer too!

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No silly verification words here - all comments are appreciated! Thank you :)