Painting Technique

Painting surface is the first thing I consider when I start a painting.

Few things get me as excited as the raw surfaces that I prepare for my paintings.
I start with panels of hardboard or a product like Masonite. It could be a thin mahogany panel. I gesso one side several times, sand and gesso again until I achieve a smooth or textured surface depending on how much detail I plan to pursue.
Most often brush strokes or random unevenness in texture is desirable for a more exciting surface.

I use the Funkiest brushes I can find to create unusual textures. Then Sand between layers. Often at this point I become impatient and without changing my shirt or pants I start to apply layers of acrylic paint. I have very few shirts that don’t show smears and streaks of wild courage. Starting generally with thicker solid layers. I work toward thinner layers that I torture with spattered water and dry brush techniques.
Sometimes before a layer of acrylic paint is dry I will spew water spatters on it like a Voodoo witch doctor or if I am feeling more civilized I will spank the heal of my hand with a wide and wet bristle brush to get a wet spattering pattern on the nearly dry layer of paint. Then I take my hair dryer to it carefully as to not evaporate or blow away the water droplets and dry the under paint around the droplets of water.
Before the water evaporates I take an absorbent rag or paper towel and soak up the wet areas which pulls up the still wet paint underneath. This reveals the color underneath and leaves a very pleasant texture layer after layer.

Eventually I will have a surface that is begging for more abuse but stopping at just the right perfect color patterns and texture is important. Then I create another panel and another till these colorful panels are stacked up around the studio. I leave these colorful panels laying around my studio until one of them finds it’s way onto my easel and begs me to start applying oil paint to it.

Remember you can put oil paint over acrylic paint but never acrylic over oil paint.
This not a rule it is a law (of nature).
Rules were made to be broken but not laws (of nature that is).

Skull and Peppers

You can see in some of these detail shots how some of the underlying textures come through adding to the richness of the overall painting.

Some areas of my work is quite loose. I add tighter details where I feel the need to define the three dimensionality. reflected highlights in the glasses and the peppers call attention to these objects and add a level of reality. Also the subtle shadows define the surface that these shadows fall onto.

The gauze in this painting was fun to paint and challenging. First I layed down a layer of shadow fabric defining the folds and shadows and three dimensions of the undulating shapes of this loose fabric and then I over painted some of the detail texture of the loose threads.

One Response to Painting Technique

  1. James says:

    Thanks for visiting the Dowlen Artworks blog and be sure to visit the James Dowlen website for more paintings and other artworks.

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