Blood, sweat and tears (part two)

 This was first posted in 2014 on my old website. I am reposting it now in 2016 seeing the painting is finally completed and showing in my solo exhibition at Castang Art Project.

In the last post I talked about the planning part of making a painting. Here is the painting part, mostly in images.  Every painting follows its particular course and has its own life, so here is the life of just one painting. Progress is not clear cut – there are steps backwards then forwards and sideways.


So this is where I have stopped this work for now. It is pretty much finished (just needs to be re-stretched) but there is always the possibility that after putting it aside for a while I will want to make more changes. Sometimes enough is enough and I have to stop myself or works would never get finished. Often further changes will just make the painting different, not necessarily better. Best to move on to a new canvas. Knowing when to let go and move forward is not simple for me.

Old master methods and materials

Over the past few years I have been researching old master methods and materials, not because I want to paint old fashioned pictures but because learning new skills and techniques expands my painting vocabulary. As a result I now refine my own linseed oil (the raw cold ground version) using gin or vodka and a kind of bran, and then thicken it in the summer sun just like Rembrandt and Velasquez. This makes for a much nicer painting medium which makes the paint dry faster and blend better. I have also totally eliminated solvents from my oil painting practice. I now mix my tube paints with the special refined and thickened oil, lightly 'beaten' egg white, and ground chalk (marble dust) from the Champagne region. All of this information can be found in books by Louis Velasquez (no relation) or on Youtube. He has called this old master ‘medium’ Calcite Sun Oil. It takes a while to get your head around the new way of working but it’s actually very simple.