THE FIRST SAMPLE 'STEP' EXERCISE
Summary of the 10 Oil / Acrylic Steps
2. Tone Board
3. Draw (Pencil)
5. Darks (Focus & Block)
6. Oil Medium On
7. Oil Medium Off
9. Colour In
10. Final Darks & Highlights
is a composite exercise showing the progress of a
landscape in its 10 stages:
sequence showing the steps!
the above exercise I completed the landscape progressively,
from step 1 on the left, to the finished step 10 on the right.
It might give a basic impression of how a painting is a series
of layers of strengthening colour. The acrylic
is excellent in the early building stages, and then the 'first
team' oils come in to finish off. The end result will invariably
be a combination of both mediums that the viewer sees.
In some of my landscapes up to 70% of the finished painting
is acrylic, and the balance oils. In some
of my Knysna forest paintings as much as 90% can be acrylic,
with only the very darks and highlights in oils, and then
on the other hand paintings that have lots of soft areas in
them often have 90% oils showing. It doesn't
matter what the mix is - as long as you are using each medium
for what it is good at! When you finally
varnish the painting nobody can tell the difference between
the mediums anyway
first sample 'Step' Exercise
can follow the steps and paint the following cottage
(which I also do as my first basic demo on the watercolour
C D ), or you can find your own image of a building
/ cottage and do that.
Steps 1 - 5
1 - PLAN
is easier to paint a subject with strong outlines, than
to paint, for instance, a sea-scene or a forest scene,
where the various colours, shades, tones and energies
merge nebulously into one another.
A simple cottage scene is a fair task to begin with,
as the format is relatively formal and uncluttered.
In my student years towards the end of the 60's I often
painted in Ida's Valley, Stellenbosch, and this is a
cottage there that I photographed recently.
I think it is the (much-altered) same dwelling that
I painted on a few occasions in my student days.
in Ida's Valley, Stellenbosch.
will use my imagination and do a relatively free interpretation
of the subject, drawing on my experiences from painting
in many villages throughout the country, and hopefully
I will capture the timelessness of life in rural settlements.
I will paint the picture on a 42 X 60 cm piece of untempered
Supawood, which I have prepared with a coat of gesso
preparation mixture. (See section 2 for other board
2 - TONE YOUR BOARD
board toned with acrylics
subject is in sunlight, and therefore I will tone
the board with my acrylics from my stay-wet palette
(see section 2 on how to make one for yourself) using
a range of colours from cools at the top, to warms
at the bottom. See a suggested sequence in the detailed
instructions of this step above.
3 - DRAW YOUR IMAGE
drawing on the toned board.
sure that your drawing is not just an excuse to 'get through
the step' . Drawing is an extension
of your plan and it is very important to get it right
at this stage. We will handle
some of the complexities and challenges of composition
etc in section 7, but in the meantime we might mention
that your drawing, and the eventual painting, should have
a 'gestalt' - a concept found in all visual disciplines,
broadly summed-up to infer that the whole must be greater
than the sum of the parts...
drawing must be 'complete', not just a flippant indication
of intent. I am not saying that it need
necessarily be over-detailed or exact, but rather that
it should be a thought-out guide to the plan of the task,
and that the whole area should be part of this plan.
Beginners on my courses often hope that the little 'Outeniqua
gnome' will come running out of the mountains to fix their
unplanned foregrounds and skies as the painting progresses!
The gnome never comes, and it is in
this step that you must handle a drawing plan for the
whole image! Drawing is fun, and you
must get used to taking time, relaxing and getting it
right at this stage.
4 - 'COLOUR-IN' YOUR DRAWING
step gives okes the most trouble, and in the early days
I even sometimes thought of leaving it out when working
with beginners. But I persisted, and
most folk derive great benefit from it. The
problem here is often the enthusiasm of the artists. They
frequently want to go further than they should in this
step, and they venture into the territory that the oils
are meant to handle...... Remember that this step has
to do with medium acrylic tones, not the very brights
or the very darks. The painting should not look 'finished'
after this step - it must still look like it is in a building
stage, with harmonious medium tones giving it strength.
5 - FOCUS: DRAWING AND BLOCK-IN WITH DARKS
now can handle our final acrylic step by focussing our
drawing with dark paint, and by blocking in the dark areas
where necessary. We now have our dark
parameter in the painting. It is a sunny
day, so the darks (and the brights in step 8 below ) will
be intense. On a misty day, the colour
parameters would be more diffused. This
is the end of the acrylic steps.
Steps 6 - 10
We use oils because oils look better, oils handle
better and oils don't discolour when drying )
6 - 'OIL ON'
the medium on
a big brush, cover the entire board surface with a
film of your painting medium ('Janny's potion' - a
50/50 mixture of refined (or raw) linseed oil and
English distilled turpentine (also known as turpentine
7 - 'OIL OFF'
the medium off
the medium off quite thoroughly, leaving only a thin
layer of glistening oil, to give your paint applications
purchase on the surface.
8 - BRIGHTEST BRIGHTS
painting with brights in.
we have put in the very bright colour extremes - white
walls, clouds, path etc.. You will now
have the outer colour parameters for your picture, ie
the .darks from step 5, and the brights from here.
9 - COLOUR THE PICTURE IN
Painting coloured-in between the parameters.
I have coloured-in the painting working between the two
parameters set in steps 5 and 8. I have
obviously left an abundance of acrylic from steps 2, 4
and 5 showing where it can work for me - eg. In the foliage,
the roof, the foreground etc.
10 - FINAL DARKS AND HIGLIGHTS
finished painting with final darks and highlights.
final fine-tuning to give the painting its finishing touches. Notice
how I have filled-in the right-hand top section with a
receding mountain. The composition was defective
as it stood in the previous steps, with too much focus
on the top right corner.
In my very early painting days my Dad, much
to my youthful and impetuous chagrin, would on occasion
ask if he could put '15 finishing touches', to the supposedly
finished painting I had on the easel.
Once my defences were down I always reluctantly relented
and consented to this intrusion into my realm of psyche
and soma, and it was always magic to see how his 15 dots
could transform my painting. What he
actually did was to place 15 dots of the brightest bright
(usually cadmium lemon and white) alongside 15 dark areas,
and this strong chiaroscuro (the reaction of dark to light)
transformed the painting and took it to another level!
...... like Mozart, at the tender age of 13, when asked
how he managed to be such a prolific composer..... his
answer? - "oh, I just put the little notes that like
each other next to each other...!"
takes us to the end of our first basic step by step
example. Click on the button below to go to the main
selection of 28 step-by-step examples.