My desire to work in oils was ever present yet the apprehension of dealing with the properties of the medium not to mention the cost compared to water based paints acted as a slight deterrent.
However when we relocated to Hungary for a new way of living it felt right to finally satisfy my long urge to try oils and to direct my art making towards a truer expression and creative satisfaction of mine. I think it was seeing various painters works on Instagram that helped with the last little nudge, the enabling effects of light/shadow and atmosphere seemed so much more enhanced. That and mixing colours and textures looked like tonnes of fun.
Before I put brush to canvas I made some focused yet flexible decisions about how I construct a painting and how my working method could produce the result I intend through a efficient and enjoyable process. I knew experimentation and discovery would happen along the way but I wanted to define method and aesthetic rules from the start so I wasn't aimlessly lost in painting playtime for an age.
To my immense pleasure, I took to using oils very naturally and wish I started sooner! I did a bit of reading about techniques and tricks about all aspects first. From surface prep to varnishing and storage. 'Fat over lean' was demystified (yay!) and I enjoy the meditational geekary of colour theory and versatility of methods that can be made.
My first series of paintings 'Pyramid' was where I made a lot of discovery of how oils work. I worked in about three layers in a conscientious way. However I think my practice really fell into place aesthetically in the next series, a figurative series of paintings titled 'Light Veil'. Most of the structure and colour of each painting was done in one or two layers and third or fourth layers were for details, refinements and any adjustments needed. I felt very accomplished with Light Veil and it gave me confidence that I can create the visual world I envision. Soon after Light Veil I began painting ethereal landscapes of the unique Balaton Lake and surrounding area in Hungary. This series really helps me further understand opposing colours and perspective, I began a similar series of seascapes of my previous home island of Guernsey in the channel islands - both very different to paint as you can imagine.
It is with flesh tones where my true paint nerd comes out, I have always loved drawing people but painting is another level to which I am in my best artistic element. 'Being' is the figurative series I am currently painting which is underpinned by my interest in theories of 'self' and the 'influence of environment'. Along with portrait commissions this continually improves my wield and understanding of the medium - practice makes perfect etc.! The array of colour that actually goes into painting a person is wide yet subtle, I think it is this careful exploration of colour mixing and model observation that is so enjoyable for me. I am improving in my ability to paint the whole painting in alla prima (in one continuous session and layer) but often a second session and layer is needed for final touches. I am pretty content with that, my speed of completing a piece (dependent on scale) improves too because I now understand that getting colour accuracy is the fundamental and initial component of good painting, then nailing the composition and form seal the deal!
So after two years of oil painting I feel truly at home with the medium and I am sure more creative reward will reveal itself going forward. .