Mark Making in Oil Painting: Transparency & Glazing

Today I applied the first layer of rabbitskin glue on 2 large scale canvasses. Now at least that task is done and all that’s needed is a layer of oil primer to get started. Working on a large scale for painting requires so much preparatory work with the canvas, although I am determined to punch out 5 large scale canvasses overall in the coming months.

I also briefly revisited a painting that I was working on this weekend. I don’t usually paint during the week because I’m too busy with my teaching responsibilities, but I was so frustrated with the way this particular painting looked that I really felt like today was my last chance to make a difference, being that the paint will be fully dry very soon. Looking at the painting as I passed by the studio this morning, I felt like the marks I was making were too monotonous and predictable, and that the figures lacked the kind of spacial depth that I was trying to create between them. The darks all looked the same, and the figures seemed too ordinary and generalized. I had layered the dark paint on pretty thick on Sunday, which gave me the advantage of having the paint in a tacky state. The paint was slightly dry, but it was loose enough still that I still managed to pull out many areas of light with a rag. The paint was a bit resistant, which forced me to be more aggressive in pulling out the highlights. In many ways, I enjoyed the paint quality more this time around. Somehow, when the paint is too loose and too wet it is just too difficult to control because it just smears all over the place when I use the rag. I think allowing the paint to dry slightly might be a technique that I use in the other paintings. I felt much more in control of achieving subtle shifts in the contrast.

The only part of the painting process that is driving me crazy is that in order to preserve the foundation of white paint, when I paint with the dark purples I have to be so thorough and consistent about cleaning up any smudges that naturally occur along the way. Because I want to maintain the transparent glazing quality in the painting, I made a rule for myself that I would not add any more to the foundation of white after I started painting in the dark figures. It makes me nuts because I just want to focus on the figures, and I spend a significant amount of time obsessively cleaning up blunders that happen around the figures.
Tracks XII

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3 thoughts on “Mark Making in Oil Painting: Transparency & Glazing

  1. I find the things that used to drive me crazy about oil painting become easier with expierence. Now I have a whole new set of frustrations, but that is what makes it so rewarding.

    The painting above makes me think of a bunch of people waiting to get into heaven; like a waiting in the VIP line at a nightclub.
    Anywhere you have prints for sale?

  2. Why did you decide not to add any more white? Does it noticeably change the appearance of the painting surface? It is hard to tell from the photo, but I can imagine what you are going for and it must have a pristine quality when viewed in person. I like the naturalness of figures’ positions; what types of reference material did you use?

  3. Hi David,
    The figures are done from sculptures that I lit to create the dramatic lighting effect. The sculptures are created from my own reference photographs of people waiting.

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