Monday, March 13, 2017

Drawing Diary for February

This month I have for you the last two oil paintings that I did.  I didn't end up with time to do any drawing for this diary before the month ended.

These two paintings are also the last of my time using oils.  I enjoyed oil painting in college since it was the class that allowed the most creativity.  We got to paint what we wanted and how we wanted as long as we used oils.  I long lamented after graduating about not being able to paint anymore.  Then a friend wanted me to do an oil for her of a tree.  I ended up deciding to try water soluble oils and see how they were on smell and dry time.  While they are a lot less on smell, and at first I barely noticed, as I've continued doing a painting here or there the last couple of years it started bothering me more.  Then February last year I got diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and learned quickly that being on my feet for extended periods of time like I am while painting just doesn't work well; it actually causes a fair amount of pain.  I also noticed a pattern with our cat, Odin, while working on these two paintings.  The day after I would paint he would be throwing up a fair amount which isn't normal.  I concluded that it has to be the smell that is triggering him and since I quit painting he has done so less.  Thus while oil painting used to be an escape it isn't one any longer so once again I find myself taking Bob Ross's advice, "Why paint if it's not fun?"

Before I get into the paintings themselves I figure I'll try to explain a bit about how I paint.   I use only the primary and secondary colors in my paintings, there is no other color as far as I am concerned.  I find it to be more challenging and the results to be more pleasant.  The idea for doing such came about when I was working on my second painting of Cocoa in university and my professor mentioned maybe I should just have fun with the color.  This appealed to me since I HATED mixing the colors on a palette and not being able to get them the proper hue.  At this time is also when I took to mixing my paint on the canvas.  I find it to be much more fun than the aforementioned annoyance of color mixing.  Now don't get me wrong I still have my colors out on the palette but they are only mixed with linseed oil there.  Then I dedicate a brush to each color that I plan on using and put it on the canvas.

For the backgrounds I normally choose two to three colors and slop them up there and then use a fan brush to mix them.  This way the background is more or less a flat plane but still has some subdued visual interest.  When it comes to doing the body of the horse I look at the picture that I am working from and where there is the strongest light I put my lightest color.  Where my darkest spots are I put my darkest color and then fill the in between with the mid range colors.  Once this is done it looks like I have a patchwork of blocks of color.  When I am ready to mix the colors to make things appear more 3D I use a fan brush or sometimes a small round or flat brush to have the paints meet and mingle on the canvas.  I play with them a bit and sometimes add more color if needed because sometimes things get a bit too muddy and other times I leave it because those 'ugly' colors can be a wonderful surprise when looking closer at the piece once it's done and dry.  Once the body is done and has time to dry I then move on to the mane and tail if they are in the composition.  This allows me to not worry about messing up the body while I work on the hair.

The first of the two paintings that I worked on was from a  photo that I took of Cocoa a couple of weeks before he passed away.  I found the angle to be interesting since I hadn't had much experience with it.

Like the tree paintings and Cocoa Spirit that were in last month's drawing diary I used a grid to transfer the picture onto the canvas.  This allowed me to get much closer to what you see in the picture as far as the outside lines go.  My husband is actually very good at helping me see mistakes when I use this process for drawing.

In the background I again used some water in the paint to help it flatten more and plus I found this to be a fun method for putting the background in.  The only issue is that you have to be careful how much water you put into the paint because it can end up being a runny mess, which then ends up on the areas you'd prefer it to not be.

For the background I used dioxazine purple and french ultramarine
For the body I used: cadmium yellow medium, cadmium orange hue, permanent rose, dioxazine purple, and viridian green
For the mane I used: cadmium yellow medium, viridian green, and dioxazine purple
The painting is on a 11" x 14" canvas.

Sir Cocoa

The image that I chose for the last painting was one that I took last February and felt very lucky to get, even though it was one of Cocoa's favorite things.

I actually have a whole series of photos from him rolling at that time.  Having a smartphone made it easy for me to quickly whip it out and start taking pictures once I realized what he was about to do.  I am very thankful to have these pictures, especially now.

The pose did come with many challenges even with using the gridding to transfer the outlines from the photo to the canvas.  It didn't help that Cocoa was incredibly fuzzy yet at the time and all the more so because of his Cushing's.  I even almost gave up on getting things to look 'right' but I finally just decided that sometimes optical illusions happen and to go with it.  I am glad I did since I am happy enough with the result.

For the background I used: dioxazine purple, phthalo blue, and viridian green
For the body I used: cadmium yellow medium, cadmium orange hue, permanent rose, dioxazine purple, and viridian green
For the mane and tail I used: cadmium yellow medium, dioxazine purple, and viridian green
The painting is on a 48" x 24" canvas.

Cocoa Rolling

Over all I like both paintings but if I could go back and change one thing on each it would be how I painted the mane and tail.  I would've preferred making it not look so striped but to blend it more, however; the paints were giving me issues with wanting to muddy so that is one reason why I ended up with what I did.  I decided not to fight it since sometimes it's just not worth the headache.


  1. So sorry to hear painting doesn't work out for you anymore. I wouldn't be able to stand all the time myself, either. Perhaps you could do it sitting with a chair that you can adapt in its height? That would leave the problem with the cat, though, and the fumes probably aren't that healthy for humans, either.

    It would be a great shame for you to give up on making art altogether, though! Is there any other medium you enjoy? I draw all my stuff sitting down.

    Btw, I love the Cocoa's coat in the second painting. It looks as soft as the real thing! Rolling horses are so cute. They just look so happy. :)

  2. I plan on continuing to make art. :) It's a part I can no longer ignore. As far as sitting with oil painting, I can't, I've tried. I am too active with it. I am actually pleased to let oil painting go though at this point.

    I want to get back to doing my black and white stuff. I miss graphite, charcoal, ink, and the messes they create. I want to see about learning to use watercolor and I may take a stab at acrylic paints also. All of that I can do sitting down at my drawing table. I don't plan on doing super big pieces anymore, they take too much out of me.

    Thank you! I used a very dry brush with his coat on that painting. I agree, I love rolling horses too. When I look at the pictures of him rolling I always smile because he had such a love of life.

    1. I'm really looking forward to what you'll do with graphite, charcoal and ink. And whether watercolour will suit you!