Watercolor Leaking Into Oil

“Flat Tops”
oil on canvas panel, 8″ x 10″
As a watercolorist, one must be pretty sure of what one is going to do and how he will accomplish it before lifting the brush. There is a lot of room for improvisation with watercolor, but there isn’t the luxury of covering mistakes and continuing. It is far from a one shot deal, but the painter must work in exact reverse of the oil painter. Instead of working from dark to light as in oil, the watercolorist must carefully avoid dark passages until the very end.

This means that strong decisions about where one is to put the light values and how one will structure and compose the dark passages must be made in advance of the painting.

I learned early to make value sketches. You’ve seen some of these the last few posts. I cannot help doing it at times. It is nearly a pastime in and of itself.

As in watercolor, when the painter concentrates their thoughts on how the value patterns will be structured, minutia is omitted. The painting boils down to good shape making and a sound pattern of value. And the result is strong, simplifications of a scene. That is, I suppose, the art of it.

The last few paintings have been made directly from my sketches without referring to the subject at all.

I guess my watercolor discipline is leaking into the oils. . . . .and I think I like it. There is a directness and a freshness that I think I see in it. More will tell. So, suppose I better paint some more, eh? :p-)

7 thoughts on “Watercolor Leaking Into Oil”

  1. Really nice, Mike!

    Amazing that the dark, warm, maroon shape in back is “behaving” and staying back there. Is it because the forward shape is warmer? or because the maroon has been “cooled” / neutralized before application?

  2. Ah, Hank!! You always ask the right questions. Remember that all color is judged in the context of those colors which surround it. There is extreme cool and extreme warm around the tree. The cool red (alizirin) is darkened with ult blue . . .making it darker and cooler . . .while the orange of the cliff face and the Yellow Green of the flat top push the warmth so strongly, the tree has no choice but to retreat. Remember; it is always in context. (and NO the Alizirin was not neutralized. I actually added yellow in places to get the clumps of foliage to appear to have volume.)

  3. Mike there’s so much to look at and read here, I don’t where to start. Seems like I was just here, but there’s tons of new stuff. That pic with the DKNY sign is killer! I’m not surprised you can tear it up in oil too..doesn’t matter what medium you work in, because you have the chops in the most important dept of all – comp/design. If you have that (and I think it’s largely an innate sense), you can do pretty much what you want.

  4. Your hard work is paying off in these extraordinary compositions Mike! You are drawing me right into the scenes……and thanks for taking the time to explain all your processes!

    This is my favorite learning blog!

  5. Hi Again, Nick! Your compliments honor me! For a guy who has such mastery over watercolor and composition yourself, there is soooo much I could learn from you. Thanks for visiting!

  6. Hey Robin!! It sure is good to have you hangin’ round again!

    As for learning, I am not sure why I am explaining all this stuff, except that I know a few subscribers out there are curious. I am glad you are getting something from the posts. It actually helps me to focus more in the paintings if I know I have to explain it. Maybe that is the teacher in me.
    Here’s hoping’ alls well at your end!

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