The Frustration of Sticky Paint

Today was such a frustrating art day. I continued working on my rabbit painting and was so annoyed at my inability to get my paint to a consistency that would allow me to paint tiny hair lines. I know I have the brush skills because I do this quite easily in other media such as watercolor and acrylic. But the “oils” have me stumped so far.

My plan was to continue working on Whitey after adding grasses to the background yesterday. Yesterday I also blocked in a coat on Whitey intending to begin the value modeling.

So to get started, I mixed four values of gray from Burnt Umber, French Ultramarine, and White. After frustrations creating little lines yesterday I decided to work with a #3 round brush and try to paint fluff rather than individual hairs. But the paint was too sticky even for that – it just didn’t flow off the brush at all. I tried coating the area I was working on with Liquin and painting over that, which worked a little better. But the Liquin seemed to be drying so fast. Then I tried mixing some Turpenoid into the paint to thin it, but that dried quickly also.

My final try was to get out the walnut oil that I bought for using as a medium with oils. (I have been working with alkyds so far.) This worked a little better. And so I think I’m going to switch to oil and walnut oil for my next session. And, following the “fat over lean” rule I think I will have to continue to work that way until I’m done.

I keep remembering the exhibit that Shelley and I saw at the Crocker Museum last year. I’m sorry to say that I don’t remember the artist’s name, but she painted the most beautiful and remarkable oil portraits of animals. They were large paintings, but the detail was incredible with tiny texture hairs. That’s what I’m aiming for and, like I say, I know I have the brush skills to accomplish it if I can just get the paint texture correct.

I have the painting sitting up by the tv and see several things I need to correct. (There’s quite a bit of glare on the photo, by the way.)

  1. Of course Whitey is still too much of a white blob and there needs to be quite a bit more shading to push most of him back somewhat.
  2. Spot reads too close to Blackie in value rather than between Blackie and Whitey so I need to light some of his fur.
  3. Spot’s face also needs work. The dividing lines between the dark and light fur on the face don’t correspond with the dividing lines on the structure of the face which results in confusion. And I think I have the eye too far back on his head.
  4. The tiny spot on his side should either be larger or should be connected to other spots because it is too close in value, shape, and size, to the eye and so is confusing. (A lot of confusion going on in this painting!)
  5. I may need more grasses in the background and I will need grass detail in the foreground before I can call this one finished.
  6. Blackie fades into the background except for his ear and eye and I don’t know whether that bothers me or not. I think I wish the background were just a little lighter. I’ll revisit that when the painting is closer to being finished and I have more information.

I guess I have quite a ways to go on this one! I was hoping that I would be happy enough to use it as one of my five images for my application to the Society of Animal Artists (due in a few weeks). Three of my “for sure” images are of single animals and I think it would be good to have at least one with more than one animal.

Meanwhile I got a good start last night on the second mustang necklace, working on the bead embroidery on the center piece. More tonight! And hopefully a photo tomorrow.


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