Friday, 10 April 2015

Tartan Blanket

Oil painting, weimaraner, dog on a tartan blanket, pet portrait by karen
This sweetie is dozing on a tartan blanket. I thought hard about how to give the blanket a soft, cozy and woolly appearance. In the end, I dragged a dry brush across the surface of the partially tacked up paint. I got the idea from Sir Edwin Landseer.
In the Art Gallery/Museum in Exeter (RAMM) there has been an exhibition these last 6 months or so about the Victorians and the gothic. One of the exhibits - the centrepiece in my opinion - is a large Edwin Landseer painting of Victoria and Albert at a costume ball. Here it is:
Only temporarily in Exeter, this large painting normally lives in Buckingham Palace. The Royal Collection used to have an excellent search facility but someone obviously 'upgraded' it with the result that it is now very unwieldy, but the zoomable version of this painting was here.
The reason I am showing you this is the myriad fabric textures Landseer has managed to depict: silks, satins, velvets, furs, wools, gold threads.
I have visited this painting 6 times since it came to Exeter, thrilled that I am allowed to get up really close and peer at it with my nose about one inch off the canvas (makes security nervous...) and I have really tried hard to work out how Landseer achieved these marvellous effects. 
One way, I think, was that he put down the base colour, including the shaping and form, then just as the paint was tacking up but not yet dry he carefully dragged a dry brush across the surface and lightly roughened it. 
I have realised that I do not make enough brave decisions about the way I use oil paint. It can have such a delicious 3D quality and the interplay of light on the surface can capture any number of effects that smoothing down with a brush simply cannot.

Thank you for looking at my paintings: have a great weekend.