Part 1 Project: Transparent and Opaque part 1

Tonally graded wash

Boy was this a learning curve! I tried oils to start with but these took a long, long time to dry. I had the same problem I had in the previous project, that of running and not knowing how to thin the paint properly. For want of a better way to describe it, it seemed very ‘slippy’ over the oil paper, and wouldn’t stick. I also tried canvas sheets and eventually switched to acrylics as the oils (in my newly converted attic space) were taking weeks (literally) to dry – it is very cold up there!!) Small flying things kept making marks in the drying oils too!. The acrylics seemed a little more forgiving about the drag marks.

Overall I didn’t find it too hard to create a graded wash, but i did find it hard not to leave drag lines on the surface – in fact i found it impossible. I have gained a new healthy respect for artists working in blocks of colour washes! It is not as easy as it looks! Different brushes responded differently to both the medium and the support. Stiff bristles on oil paper definitely left the worst marks.

In no way did I feel that I have mastered this skill, although there was some improvement with practice. I took strips of my best ones and pasted into my sketchbook with annotations. As this exercise took place over a long period of time I am afraid that I failed to take  many individual pictures of  sheets. Here, however,  is a selection of the worst and the best.


Single colours:

  • Oil diluted with low odour solvent didn’t’ stick to the oil paper.
  • I found it very hard not to get brush stokes, especially with oil. Acrylics were better.
  • Brush type and support type made a big difference.
  • The addition of white was more forgiving.

Wet on Wet overlaying washes

  • With the oil paint applying the second wash tended to lift the first wash off the paper resulting in the first wash being ‘moved down’ the page by the action of applying the second! This was less of a problem with the acrylic paint.
  • The colours did blend – mixed on the support rather than on the palette.
  • the addition of white again made smoothing the brush stokes easier, but it was harder to maintain a dark tone.

Wet on Dry overlaying washes

This technique seemed to give most control in paint application compared to wet on wet. (there was no lifting off of dry paint).

With transparent colours both were visible in a way that didn’t happen with wet on wet (because they had blended together) – there was a certain translucency about the colours. This was most evident when contrasting colours were used. Effect was lost when opaque colours were used.

Opaque Colour Mixing

The results of this exercise are mixed with the others above. One point to add is that the opaque paint was more ‘solid’. I can see that this could be used to create form in an object. If applied to an object on a background of transparent glazes, that object may seem to stand out from the background. This would also create the illusion of 3D form.

Part 1 Project: Transparent and Opaque part 1

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