Monday, 14 May 2012

Parklands Road - painting demonstration

I took a few photographs and some notes while painting "Parklands Road".

Parklands Road - Oil on canvas (60 cm x 30 cm) by Benoit Philippe [Click on the image to see a larger version]

To make this oil painting of a road in Swindon (Wiltshire - England), I took a series of photographs. I then put them side by side on a PowerPoint slide to create a ribbon.

I wanted to create an impression of calm and vastness, so I selected a long canvas: 60 cm x 30 cm. I prepared the ground by tinting the primed canvas with two coats of gesso mixed with some red and Yellow Ochre acrylic paint.

I drew the row of houses on the canvas with a Faber-Castell black drawing pen. I then put a dab of Yellow Ochre and a dab of Burnt Umber on my palette and painted a tonal wash over the drawing. I used a large flat hog brush and  some odourless solvent (Winsor & Newton Sanodor).

The next phase was the block-in.

For this painting, my palette was composed of:
  • Titanium white (W&N); 
  • Naples Yellow Substitute (Roberson); 
  • Cadmium Yellow Pale (W&N); 
  • Transparent Yellow Oxide (Roberson); 
  • Cadmium Red (W&N) ; 
  • Alizarin Crimson (W&N); 
  • Phthalo Blue (W&N) and 
  • French Ultramarine (W&N).
For the Titanium White, I use some Winsor & Newton Griffin Alkyd, a fast drying oil paint that help to shorten the drying time of my paintings. It can be mixed with other oil paint colours without any issue.

I blocked-in the different masses with mid-range tones. At this stage, my goal was to fill-in the whole canvas and not to have too many sharp edges. I worked only with odorless turpentine and tried to get a good consistency with the paint.

After the block-in phase is finished, I reworked the whole canvas with softer brushes and some painting medium in order to glaze colours over the fresh paint.

I started with the sky, glazing some  Phthalo Blue at the top, as well as some Naples Yellow for the clouds. Towards the horizon, I added some white tinted with a little Ultramarine Blue. I glazed over the far away landscape with the same mixture to push it further into the distance.

Once the glazes with the medium started to set, I blended them with a very soft badger brush.

To give the picture the glow of late summer evenings, with the sun setting down, I glazed the brick houses with orange tones. To work on the houses, the trees and the grass, I worked only with two brushes: a bright No. 8 (Daler Rowney - Graduate) and a round No. 12 (same brand).

The white highlights on the windows and roof edges created an impression of enough details to define some focal points.

Notice how the edge of the roof for the house on the right is close in tone to the background. Both the roof and the background are also painted with neutral colours. By contrast, the house on the left has the ridge of its roof lighted by the sun. The orange contrasts with the purple shadow.

I finished by painting the grass with successive glazes of green, Transparent Yellow Oxide, Cadmium Yellow Pale and white. I wanted to make it looked like some waves of grass were under a projector.

I thought about adding a figure walking in the grass on the right side of the painting, but decided not to do so.    The painting is more mysterious without any person in the frame and the blue car was sufficient to remind us of the human presence in this cityscape.

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