I know that a lot of you think I’m nuts for suggesting the use of oil paints as a sketching medium. You’re probably right but the typical discussions of this is not the reason(s).
A sketching medium must:
- Be Light and portable
- Be easy to set up and take down
- Clean up must be simple.
- Must allow for relatively quick sketches
There may be other things but these are the major demands on a medium.
Numbers 2 and 3 are solved by using water-mixable oil paints. I use Cobra paints that feel just like Rembrandt oils if you’ve used those. No solvents or mediums beyond good old H2O. Requirement one requires a easel-less approach and while I’ve listed 4 separately, this mostly comes from items 2 and 3.
But in addition to water-mixable oils, you need a substrate that’s light and that doesn’t need a lot of support. And that’s where Legion’s new Stonehenge Oil paper comes in. Here’s a really quick test to see how well it solves the problem of oil paint sketching. Please excuse the horrible painting. I spent only 15 minutes on this, probably using too large of a brush, but the painting is not the result here, it’s paper performance that’s important here.
I wanted to test how this paper accepts a pencil sketch. Several of the “Canvas pads” typically sold for oils are horrible for drawing. Stonehenge oil is the opposite. Its 140lb paper surface feels like you’re drawing on Stonehenge drawing paper, which is wonderful. Here’s my sketch and the subject.
My typical way of drawing is to use a 9×12 drawing board with a metal surface so I can use magnets to attach things like paint palettes and water containers. So, it seemed natural to use the same thing for this test. I also decided not to tape the paper down because I’m lazy and often I just clip my sketchbook to the board and draw. I did the same here, with a single clip.
Several things to note here. There was NO curling of the paper as I painted. Whatever treatment Legion does to the paper causes it to remain flat and prevents any oil from penetrating through to the other side. Painting on it feels very similar to painting on a masonite panel covered with gesso. It’s just a LOT lighter. This is an amazing new product for oil painters in my view.
Will I become an oil paint sketcher? Maybe? Probably? I like the idea and I prefer oils to gouache that some find a great sketching tool. But I still look at paintings that lack ink lines and think that something is missing. Time will tell. What I do know is that I’ll be buying more Stonehenge Oil paper when it becomes available in Canada.
I’ve been on a quest, some might say a fools errand, to adapt oil paint to a sketching environment. I’ve talked a bit about this in previous posts but today I want to talk about a new product that could help me towards that goal.
It’s Legion Paper’s new Stonehenge Oil. It’s a paper that resists oil penetrationand looks just like watercolor paper. lts surface texture is very similar to their Stonehenge drawing paper that many of us know for its’ wonderful abilities to handle graphite and colored pencils. This makes it ideal for doing a sketch prior to painting. I find it hard to draw on a canvas-textured surface, particularly when working in sketch-size formats.
It’s sold in standard 20×30 sheets and, rumor has it, will also be available in smaller sizes either as pads or sheets. Anyways, Legion was nice enough to send me a couple 28×21.5cm sample sheets so I could experiment with it as an oil paint sketching medium. I’ll report back “real soon” as it looks like an ideal surface for draw->paint work.
“Canada spends all spring waiting for spring to arrive.”
I don’t know who wrote this. It was a blurb associated with a Weather Channel video. It may be the best descriptor of how a sketcher feels in Canada when he/she looks outside. I was supposed to go to a coffee shop to sketch this morning because it was supposed to rain. Well, it did rain, kinda sorta. It is currently raining ice pellets and accompanied by high winds. As crazy as I am, I’m not crazy enough to go out in that mess. And so I’ll write about art instead [sigh].
Indoor art it is. I’m probably the only guy on Earth to discover the Victoria and Albert Museum’s online resource, but I got excited when I found it. I haven’t seen an online resource that provides such high-resolution graphics of museum holdings, allowing the user to zoom and scroll over the work.
Here’s an example and one I’ve started to work from, a sculpture by Aime-Jules Dalou of a woman nursing her child. If you click on the website image you’ll find several images of the statue and the ability to scroll around them, zoom into them. I decided not to do the entire statue but rather to zoom in, rotate a bit and capture a more typical portrait graphic. This was the result.
I’ve only started on the drawing and stopped with a very light massing in of tone. I stopped because I’m not sure if I want to complete it with pencil, the original idea, or to do watercolor washes to capture the sepia look of the statue. This is done on Stonhenge paper, though, so I’ll probably proceed with pencil, taking me down yet another road where I have little experience. I did increase the contrast of this scan somewhat because many of the lines are very light. Hopefully working on this will mitigate my frustration of those ice pellets hitting my window.