Art Education: Basic Techniques of Classical Realism Oil Paintings
What is oil painting? Oil paints on the canvas. It’s an indisputable definition. I thought that oil painting is more than that.
Any kind of figurative art (including oil painting) is thought of beforehand. The basic rules of studying drawing and painting are very closely connected with the laws of the discipline.
Tip 1. Brushes
You should have many brushes so that not to lose time washing them while working. Take a new brush for every new mix. Use round kolinsky brushes, No.1 to No. 10. To cover larger surfaces, you will need a few #20 to #35 brushes. For final strokes PRIPLAVLENIYE (final blending) you will need a few very soft round and flat average size squirrel brushes. Brushes should be treated very carefully. After every session they should be washed in turpentine and after that in warm water with soap.
Tip 2. Canvas
The canvas should be primed additionally a few more times and in conclusion it should be ground with fine sandpaper. After that the canvas should be scraped with a razor to remove the canvas texture till smooth dead surface similar to the egg’s surface is achieved.
Tip 3. Palette
The palette must be made of hard dark wood, best of all, of pear wood. After work wash the palette with turpentine and scrape it with a razor. Before work wipe the palette with linseed oil.
Tip 4. Paper
The drawing is made on paper life-size to the smallest details. Then it is transferred to the canvas by carbon-paper. After that the drawing is outlined with brown ink because the first oil layer – IMPRIMATURA (transparent coat that is equal to the middle tone of largest, lightest object in painting) – will wash away the pencil, but the ink will remain visible almost through the last layers.
Tip 5. Still Life Objects
It is very important to have objects for still life in the studio. Don’t be stingy at garage sales and flea markets, you may regret it later.
Tip 6. Lacquer -The lacquer for IMPRIMATURA is made of 2% of dry DAMAR CRYSTALS and 98% of turpentine. The lacquer for painting is made of 5-10% of dry resin and 90-95 % of turpentine. A couple of lavender oil drops are added directly to the oil-can. Scientists say lavender oil stimulates the brain. However, I think that old masters added it to eliminate the heavy turpentine smell. The lacquer for the final step consists of 30% of DAMAR CRYSTALS, 3% of linseed oil, and 67% of turpentine.
Tip 7. Canvas Cleaning
Before each new layer the canvas (ideally dried during 7 weeks) is carefully wiped with a half of an onion (in order to prepare the dried surface to absorb better) and then with linseed oil. After that the canvas is wiped with a soft piece of cloth.
Tip 8. Mixture
IMPRIMATURA, or the first paint layer. The canvas is covered with a liquid mixture based on Red Ochre, Yellow Ochre Light and Ivory Black (the mixture should have an olive hue).
Tip 9. Basic Set of Paints
The basic set of paints is the following: “Rembrandt” oil colors: Flake White, Yellow Ochre Light, Red Ochre, Burnt Umber, Raw Umber Ivory and Lamp Black (7 Basic Colors), and 4 extra colors (when necessary) which I use in the last layers: Flake Yellow (instead of it also can be used Cadmium Yellow Deep), Madder Lake Deep, Chinese Vermilion, Prussian Blue. But be careful to use these last 4 colors very sparingly.
Tip 10. TEL’NII PODMALYOVOK
The first and the second TEL’NII (flesh tones: main life colors) PODMALYOVOK (5th and 6th layers). The first TEL’NII PODMALYOVOK is made half a tone lighter and two tones lighter in colors; and half a tone darker and two tones lighter in shadows. The same is true of the second TEL’NII PODMALYOVOK.
Tip 11. PODMALYOVOK
The dead layer – the fourth PODMALYOVOK – is made with white lead, light ocher, red ocher, and burnt bone. The aim of this PODMALYOVOK is penumbra. The picture must look as if its objects were lit with moonlight – olive cold gray color. Colors are applied thickly, half a tone higher, shadows are very transparent, half a tone lower.
Tip 12. LESSIROVKA
The seventh layer — LESSIROVKA : Details of textures, thickly applied highlights, bright reflections, and signature. In this layer you may use additional paints: Prussian blue, red cinnabar, yellow flake (cadmium yellow deep), madder lake deep.
Tip 13. Shadow PODMALYOVOK
The shadowPODMALYOVOK (the process of creating intermediate layers) is made with Burnt Umber in two layers (2nd and 3rd layers). In the second layer all details are made excluding the texture. In the third layer LESSIROVKA of the main tone masses is made with a big brush.
Tip 14. Music
Many painters get an energy charge from music. Stop listening to any modern music and begin listening only to classical music. Try to begin loving it.
Last, stop looking at modern art and stop loving it. Modern bright colors and hue contrasts destroy the subtle vision of the painter who took risks to study classical painting in our time.
From the 16th century to the beginning of the 20th century artists used the seven layer technique. Like music where there are seven notes, seven keys, and within each there are seven more. 7 days in a week. 7 Layers of Paint. Each layer in oil painting must dry for seven weeks. The energy which we receive from old paintings in museums, like ghosts in old castles with old paintings, is related to this magic figure.
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