Tag Archives: oil paint

Life class, portrait in oils

Portrait session, using oil paints. I had a small canvas which I wanted to use. Kept the scale of the work down, which I liked. Some of our recent work has been so big as to be unmanageable. Quite pleased with the result, but I realised too late that the shoulders are at a smaller scale than the head. Need to stand and think more.

Oil painting

Not my favourite medium, although I have done quite a few in the past. Still working with our restricted pallette of red, yellow, blue and white. It is useful, but when I’m out of class I use all sorts of colours. Orange and purple are good! 

This nude is not great, but she has since monumental qualities. 

Oil painting in life classes

For the last two weeks we have been using oil paints in Mark Kelland’s life class. First week a lady painted on a deep blue background on paper. This week a large man on a white canvas. I’m trying to keep the colours bright, but I keep forgetting that oil does not dry as quickly in acrylic and I kept mixing the colours.

What I would love to achieve are the colours I saw in August Macke’s painting that we saw in MoMA in New York earlier in the month.


This painting was completely new to me and I loved it. Hardly anyone was looking at it, because it had no caption and it wasn’t on the audio guide. One young chap was studying, and when I said that l really liked it he was very enthusiastic, saying it was one of the best paintings in the museum. I agreed.


Rembrandt in mixed media

We weren’t copying Rembrandt as such. We were trying to use very contrasty portraits as sources for subtractive oil painting. Using a single dark colour, burnt umber plus blue in my case, smeared over an entire sheet of shiny, coated paper, and then wiping off highlights with rags and cotton wool to create a light and dark image. We had two of Rembrandt’s self portraits as examples of strongly litl paintings, and I decided to copy one of them.


I liked the outcome, but it looks more like Einstein than Rembrandt. There is a great richness to the varying darks. The white cap is just the paper shining through where I have scraped off the paint with a pallet knife. A very satisfying, physical form of painting, but very messy. I had to wear vinyl gloves, and even then had paint all over them.

After finishing this picture, I had ten minutes left, so tried the same thing in charcoal with another Rembrandt self portrait. I had meant to blacken the whole page, but actually just blacked in the figure and then took out light areas of the face and hand using a plastic eraser. Again, it doesn’t look much like Rembrandt, but I was pleased with the outcome of ten minutes. I do like charcoal.