Sunday, February 12, 2012

Further Adventures in Oil

Posted by Maggie

Satsuma Oranges & Blue Bowl, 8x10 oil on canvas, ©Maggie Price
It's often hard to pass by a display of beautiful fruit, especially in the winter. These Satsuma oranges caught my eye, not because I thought they'd taste good (which they probably will) but because I wanted to paint them. Even the whole pile of oranges in the bin at the store seemed paintable; something about those elegant arches of the leaves was irresistible. I picked out three and set them up on a stand to paint, adding a blue dish to raise one up and give some contrast to the orange. A blue cloth backdrop further enhanced the complementary color arrangement.

I'm still re-learning about oil paints, the types and brands of pigments and solvents. I have been trying to figure out which white I like best. Some whites seem too transparent, but I just got a new one from Jack Richeson & Co. I like their Shiva oil paints in general, but this new white is really great. It's a Titanium-Zinc White, and it's got a lovely texture and opacity. I like it better than the plain Titanium.

A friend of mine had recommended the Shiva color called Asphaltum, which is a wonderful color, a sort of dark umber with a subtle influence of ultramarine. It's a unique color, and I enjoyed using it and will definitely keep it in stock.

While I was cruising the color chart in search of Asphaltum I stumbled upon another interesting-sounding Shiva color called Leaf Green, and ordered it too. It wasn't at all what I expected; I thought it was going to be more green, but it turned out to be that magical mix of green and orange that you find so often in foliage. I used it quite a bit in this painting and can see that it, too, is going to become a standard on my palette.

I had so much fun painting this little study. My goal was to learn more about how to paint still life, so I was pretty relaxed about it and just had fun. I am enjoying working in oils again after so many years painting only in pastel. I think working in pastel taught me a lot about values, and painting regularly taught me a lot about composition and design. Now, I feel that working in oils is teaching me more about color. Mixing colors is fun and using a brush again is a delight. I like everything about the process except cleaning up when I'm done!