Monday, February 4, 2013

Breakdown Of An Oil Painting

As you probably know by now, I enjoy dabbling in "fine" arts now and then. Nothing works better to boost up one's mood than a solvent high. I recently made a quick little painting of Cthulhu, and I thought I'd show you how I usually paint.

My art studio, AKA the floor of my 1 bedroom flat.

Following the jump, I'll show you pictures from each step/sitting with an explanation for what I'm doing. Keep in mind though that it is in no way intended to be a tutorial, but simply a way for me to present the methods I've developed through trial and error in order to achieve somewhat satisfying results. Oils are still a mysterious and frustrating medium for me, though, but y'know, practice makes perfect.

I still have lots of practice to go, that being said!


I started out with a cheap, store-bought stretched cotton canvas, 16'' x 16'' in size. I normally dislike the rough texture of store bought canvases (these guys are cheap on the gesso!) so before painting, I like to apply a few coats of gesso and sand them down a bit, in order to get a finish closer to an eggshell than the cheese grater texture that normally comes with such cheap canvases.

Here you can see I sketched out the beast. Nothing much to explain. I use 2B pencils, but that's just a matter of personal preference. 

For the painting, I started by outlining the different forms with ivory black mixed with a bit of Liquin Original painting medium. Afterwards, I filled the background with a mix of prussian blue and ivory black to darken it and give it a base color.

This is followed by filling out the midtones of the painting with a mix of ivory black and lead white. I try to sculpt the general shapes of the subject, working with different shades of gray (but nothing close to 50. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA). That's when I got slightly bored (grisaille underpaintings have this effect on me) and left the painting to dry a little while for the next sitting.

In this sitting, I simply reworked the grisaille a bit, making highlights a bit lighter and shadows a bit... shadowyer?

In any case, I didn't work much on this setting and let the whole thing rest until it was dry to the touch.

NOW we're starting to get Cthulhu-ey. Here, I simply applied a glaze made of viridian (phthalo green works just as well), sap green and a little touch of ivory black all over the painting.

I then deepened the black of the eyes, and re-worked the highlights using cadmium yellow and lead white. In the process of blending the highlights, I lifted a bit of the glaze from the canvas, because I'm a n00b. However, that shall be corrected.

Yaaay! another green glaze (applied the morning after, when it was dry to the touch). This time, I used a tad of cadmium yellow in the mix of viridian and sap green. The reason I did this glaze was first of all to help blend in the work I did the day before, plug the places where I had lifted the original green glaze, and also because I suck at painting dark areas so I'd rather darken the whole painting and reaffirm the highlights later.

Here, I applied almost pure cadmium yellow blended with a tad of lead white on the lighter parts of lil' cthulhu, and blended & brushed the whole thing with a large, dry, soft bristled brush to remove most of the brush strokes. I then painted in the specular highlights of the eyes with pure lead white, and brushed a small amount of ultramarine blue well diluted with medium on the background.

That being done, I left it to dry, and on the last sitting I affirmed the blue glaze of the background a bit more, and once THAT was dry, I framed the subject with lines of gold ink and called it a day.

Paints used: Lead White, Ivory Black, Viridian, Sap Green, Cadmium Yellow, Prussian Blue, Ultramarine Blue (Pebeo Studio Fine XL oil colors)
Other stuff: Pen-Touch Gold ink marker, Cheap ass acrylic gesso, Liquin Original by Winsor & Newton.

Cthulhu, Oil on Canvas, 16'' x 16'', 2013

If you like my stuff, feel free to follow me on Deviant Art!

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