Friday Figures- Oil and Water

Trial run of water mixable oil paint on Arches oil primed paper, 15" x 22". Not a happy medium, sorry to say. 3 hour pose. Winsor & Newton Artisan water mixable oil colour.

Experimenting with materials #143. Trial run with Winsor & Newton Artisan water mixable oil paint on Arches oil primed paper, 15″ x 22″. Not a happy medium for me, sorry to say. 3 hour pose.

In my manic getting-ready-to-travel-and-paint mode, I drop a lot of balls and wonder where I left my head, but you can expect packing to commence at least three weeks ahead. I try out equipment, repair and modify, build, work out the kinks and the suitcase layout. I have two art travels upcoming: a residency at a nature reserve in South Carolina called the Spring Island Trust, and then three weeks in the tropical rainforest of Barro Colorado Island, Panama. They’re both islands, rich in flora and fauna, and both look suspiciously like paradise from my perch here high atop the old Oklahoma homestead.

This is the pencil underdrawing for the previous- you can see how the shapes and expression on her face changed as the paint went over the lines, and it became a painting. Graphite on Arches oil primed paper, 15" x 22"

This is the pencil underdrawing for the previous- you can see how the shapes and expression on her face changed as the paint went over the lines, and it became a painting. Graphite on Arches oil primed paper, 15″ x 22″

For Spring Island I’ll keep it fairly simple: a box of pastels and sanded paper to take in  wide green marshlands and big blue skies. A scope on a tripod, a pair of binoculars and  sketchbook for wood storks, ospreys, if all goes well, prothonotary warblers in a cypress swamp.

For Barro Colorado Island I have this crazy yen to haul oil paints into the rainforest and paint light-dappled forest interiors on big sheets of paper with a large brush. A bus ride to Panama City for turpentine may be essential-and fun- it’s become a hoppin’ place (see today’s New York Times for a look into the Panama City boom). But I loved its seedy pre-boom grime and the surreal shopping weirdness of the infamous downtown variety store, Machetazos), since I don’t want to pack turpentine. But to cover the bases I bought a starter set of Winsor & Newton water-mixable oils, testing them out them at our regular figure session this morning. My review? Meh. Not great, not bad, just meh.

I do a small pencil sketch before committing to big expensive paper- don't you? This is the model

I do a small pencil sketch before committing to big expensive paper. Stillman & Birn 8 1/2 X 11″ Gamma Series sketchbook.

I struggled with them, to tell you the truth. The bristle brushes dragged on the textured paper. I couldn’t get a point on the rounds or use the fine chisel edges of the flats, and the filberts? They splayed. The only brush that worked well was a soft synthetic filbert, the only arrow left in the quiver. And with the paint thinned down to a wash, the oil-primed paper buckled. Has anyone else tried these with better success than I had?

I’m glad I tried them out. Experiments are ever good. The set is small and I can take it along for a backup, but look for me in boomtown Panama City, on the bus.

But then I’ll have to devise an ingenious way to bring those oily paintings home with me. I’m doing R&D on that right now. Let me get back to you.

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About zeladoniac

Debby Kaspari travels the world with sketchbook and binoculars, drawing and painting in wild and not-so-wild landscapes. Norman, Oklahoma is her home base, and she lives there with her tropical ecologist husband and a mackerel tabby named Gizmo.
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5 Responses to Friday Figures- Oil and Water

  1. alan baggs says:

    Re Panama…A little over ten years ago i went on an organised birding trip to Venezuela. It was 17 days of magic with a bird in every bush, and I was constantly fumbling between binoculars, sketchbook and camera, wanting to record absolutely every second, like a kid in a candy store. Your tropical sketching trips remind me of that trip, and also that I should head down that way again one of these days! Maybe I should share some snippets of those pages on my blog.

  2. zeladoniac says:

    That’s exactly what tropical birding does to me, too- it’s like a big pile of feather candy out there. Yes, please do post your tropical sketches- they must be stunning, as is all your work.

  3. Corienne says:

    I think they’re all wonderful, but the first one very beautiful. You may not like it, but I do!!

  4. Lesley says:

    I can’t wait to see your big light-dappled oil forest interiors. It’s not a crazy idea – or if it is, it’s the great kind of crazy. I really hope you find turpentine!

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