Saturday, June 03, 2006

Fat Over Lean?

There are different ways that different artists begin their paintings. A classic method is to stain the entire surface using the main color of your under painting. The next step is to do the entire painting as a tonal study using your only color of choice, white, and black. At this point the paint still stays fairly lean. The under painting shows the artists that there is a balance of darks and lights and that the composition does work. The next phase is where the color starts to develop. The colors are glazed over the under painting, layer after layer, adding color and richness. To glaze the paint is mixed with a painting medium that makes it “fatter” than the previous layers. The final touches are put on with the thickest and most opaque layer of paint. The classic fat over lean.

I don’t do this. I start one of two ways. I will either stain the entire surface a single color; I usually use dioxine purple or mars violet. I like them as colors and they have a high degree of being able to stain the surface using a little bit of paint. It’s all going to be covered by the time I finish so the color is not that important except I think they are fun colors. Then I will do a charcoal drawing or sketch or maybe draw with a brush and thinned paint.

My other starting method is to do a contour drawing on the white prepared surface using charcoal since graphite can leech through to the surface. Then I will fix the drawing. After that I will block in the painting with color. I usually use discord colors but not always. The paint in this layer is thinned with turpentine to speed the drying time. This is the lean phase. After that dries, I jump right in! I go right to the fat layers. Sometimes I will thin the paint with a painting medium so that it will flow better. Other times I will squeeze it out of the tube directly on to my brush or the painting surface. I do most of my color mixing directly on the painting rather than on a palette. At times I also incorporate oil sticks.

I also use this approach with my oil pastels. With the oil pastels I will do a lot of cross-hatching. At times I will blend the colors using my fingers. Other times I will use a brush dipped in painting medium. The oil pastels I use are a high grade and are completely intermixable with oil paint. They can also be dipped directly into the medium before using them. It just makes them melt right into the surface. It is because of both soft and oil pastels that I got into the habit of mixing color directly on the surface of the painting.

When I think that I’m done or I’m sure that I’m mostly completely done, I set it aside to dry. I usually set it somewhere I can see it. I will look at it but not really think about it. This is a time for non-verbal thought, waiting to see if the painting tells me that it is done. Sometimes I will add a few final touches other times I just leave it because it is done. I will use a retouch varnish, on the oils, at this time to protect the surface. I will sometimes use Kamar varnish because it acts like retouch varnish and will permit the painting to completely dry before doing the final varnish. For the oil pastels I give it a coat of the Kamar varnish both for protection and because it gives the colors a wonderful richness.

This painting is titled "Shadow Side". It is an oil pastel done on a sheet of Strathmore paper. The paper has been sealed and gessoed. It measures 10" X 12".


Blogger The Epiphany Artist said...

Ed I just read your Bio OMG 7 cats and 4 dogs ! I thought I was going animal lover with 2 cats and 4 dogs! I like your thoughtson fat over lean ... I do it with acrylic too LOL!

12:16 PM  
Blogger Ed Maskevich said...


They just keep showing up at our door and we keep taking them in. Two of the dogs are old and have problems so their owners just dump them off on the side of some road to fend for themselves. We figure that we can at least make their last years happy. And after you reach a certain point the attitude becomes, "well, what's one more?"

3:04 PM  
Blogger jenncat said...

hi ed! found you thru terri's blog.
just wanted to say that your blog
is really interesting! i could just
read and read and read.... :)
btw, i have 1 dog, 4 cats and a bird :)

1:27 AM  
Blogger Ed Maskevich said...

Hi Jenn,

Thanks for stopping by and visiting. Always good to meet another artist and pet lover. How is LA these days? We have friends in Inglewood and my wife used to live in El Segundo.

10:58 AM  
Blogger Tracy Helgeson said...

Hi Ed, Nice to see how you start a painting. I am now thinking I ought to pull out my oil pastels and play around a bit!

3:24 PM  
Blogger jenncat said...

well ed, LA is blazing HOT the last
few days!! it's probably a little cooler in inglewood and el segundo -
just a little :)

it was 101 yesterday at 4:30pm - ugh.
thank God for central air!!!! :)

3:34 PM  
Blogger Ed Maskevich said...

Hey Tracy,

Oil pastels are a wonderful medium. What I like is that it is a cross between drawing and painting. You should pull them out. I'd like to see what you do with them.

3:59 PM  
Blogger Ed Maskevich said...

Hey Jenn,

Isn't June supposed to mean "June Gloom" out there? I still miss CA even though I haven't lived there in 20+ years. Our friends are coming out in July. Who knows, maybe they'll find it cool here. In August our oldest daughter plans on moving to San Diego.

4:03 PM  
Blogger jenncat said...

i wish it was june gloom :)
guess this is unusual for this time of
year here.
san diego - how exciting for your daughter!! i really like it down there :)
i should break out the oil pastels too! - so many things to do and so little time ;)

7:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa Hunter said...

Thanks for sharing your painting process. I always find it fascinating how an artist creates a painting. I took some courses at the Art Students League, thinking that would help me understand art better. It left me in awe of anyone who can do this. I can barely Draw Sparky.

5:16 PM  
Blogger Ed Maskevich said...

Hi Lisa,

Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad that you did take some courses, it really does help your understanding. When it comes to studying or teaching art, I have a personal belief/philosophy that if you can sign your name you can learn to draw (which is the first step to learning how to paint). A really good book for this is DRAWING ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE BRAIN by Betty Edwards. This is one of the books I use when I teach.

To me drawing and painting are a craft that are learned like any other craft. Once you learn the basics it's practice, practice, practice.

8:20 PM  

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