Saturday, June 9, 2012

Water Miscible Oils

I've been playing a bit with water-miscible oil paint, also sometimes called water-mixable or water soluble. This is mostly due to concerns with using potentially harmful volatile solvents in a small, less-than-optimally ventilated studio. I've decided that I'm not convinced. There doesn't seem to be that much in the way of actual benefits, aside from the ease of clean up with soap and water. And I can do that with the M. Graham walnut-based oils anyway.

Washes done with water as solvent are really only practicable in the first layer of paint, and the wash doesn't look or feel anything like a turps or mineral spirit wash. You also want to be sure the water has completely evaporated before you start any overpainting, or you might compromise the paint layers. There are driers for these paints, but they are just as smelly and noxious as the alkyd driers for linseed oil paints. The cost is considerably less than most artist grade paint, more like student grade, so that makes one wonder about the longevity and quality of the products. So, the verdict from me seems to be: carry on in the old tradition, just be very careful with my solvent use.

This painting (9 x 12, masonite) was done with Lukas Berlin WMOs, which I got because they were on sale. There was a stickiness to the paint that was very uncomfortable, and when it had dried, the colour had sunk to a very matte finish over most of the surface. I'll use up the remaining paint, but I won't be eager to buy any more.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Veterum Non Immemor

I  recently spent an afternoon along the banks of the Credit River in Port Credit, ON, scouting potential painting sites. I had gone with a couple of places specifically in mind, but they left me somewhat disappointed. I sat for a while sketching ducks, geese and swans on the river, and prepared to head home. On my way to the station, I was struck by this scene.

"What?", you ask. Well, it's a small building, made of river stone and concrete. (The river is only about 300 meters away.) It's actually built into the side of a hill, the long-ago bank of the river. Behind it, on the top of the ridge, is a cemetary. I think this is a charnel house, the building where bodies were stored through the winter when the ground was frozen too hard to dig. And on the lintel is the inscription, which I did not attempt to render, "Veterum Non Immemor." I think a rough translation might be "the past is not forgotten," or something to that effect. Times like this I wish I'd taken high school Latin; if you can offer a more accurate translation I would appreciate it. I plan to do some research at the adjoining church to see if I can dig up a little history.

This is oil on a 9 x 12 panel. I think one of the things that really grabbed my attention was the strong contrast between the bright blue of the sky and the intense red of the bush, as well as the lost, half-forgotten, overgrown appearance of the structure. In the midst of a bustling village, it was somewhat lonely. I know the composition needs work, but this is one sketch that I really look forward to working up into a larger painting.