Keeping it Fresh
While I have primarily been an oil painter for the last 25 years, I find it important from time to time to change mediums just to keep my thinking and approach fresh. The following two works (pages 50 and51) from “Not Far from Home”, are examples of such attempts. “A True Gentleman” is a pastel painted on Wallis sanded paper and the watercolor, and “Bohemian” was painted on 300lb rough Arches Watercolor paper. While the lighting was similar on both, warm rim light, the application of paint was reverse in the watercolor as I needed to preserve the white of the paper for the lights as opposed to opaquely added the lights on top of the darks in the pastel.
Other means can also be employed to keep your approach honest, one effective path is to shake up the lighting of the subject. I encourage my students to paint many different types of light effects so as not to become too familiar and formulaic in their seeing and color mixing. This forces us to really look at the relationships and harmonies to accurately relay the effect of light. (I should add here that while the subject is lit with differing temperatures, I find it crucial to have balanced light on my canvas and if possible the palette). As I begin a new work, I will often paint a different temperature or angle of light from the last effort to maintain honesty is seeing. Warm light, cool light, front light, back light, Twilight and nocturnes all offer nice alternatives and will keep you scratching your head!
Anders Zorn and John Singer Sargent’s works are truly an inspiration as they fluidly switched between the mediums of oil and watercolor to capture what they saw beautiful. I encourage you to look them up as well!