Windswept Trees / oil


It’s raining here today so I enjoyed staying home and finishing this painting. I did the sketch weeks ago in plein air and painted at home ala Matisse, with my paint brushes taped to yard sticks, so I was standing back from the canvas and trying to control my brushes, which don’t always go where I want them to from a yard away.

I’m not going 100% modern on this painting since I used my Maroger medium and black to make the dark green grey of the trees. But I am going more modern by using my big brushes taped to yardsticks.

At art school, long ago, they told us to use black. The old masters used it, so it works ok if you use black like they did. And more modern artists, even Manet and others of his era used black successfully.  To make a black that isn’t dead they told us to mix equal parts Burnt Umber and Ultramarine Blue. The Ultramarine Blue is your darkest cool color and the Burnt Umber is your darkest warm color so you get a neutral black. If you need a warm or cool gray you can mix any other color into this black. We also were taught to use gray in glazes and if you layer warm  colors over cool colors, or cool over warm, after waiting for the first glaze to dry, you don’t get muddy colors but the viewers eye mixes the colors.

Sometimes you can’t just throw away the lessons of the old masters. I like to use the best ideas from the old and the new. Painting like Matisse, with the brush taped to a yardstick is fun and freeing. I’ll get out to draw and paint  in plein air again real soon, but I got distracted by bad weather and other fun art projects to do indoors. So, I was glad to finally finish this painting after waiting weeks for the background to dry.

8 thoughts on “Windswept Trees / oil”

    1. Thanks! I’m not familiar with walnut oil or liquid. I’ll write what I know about Maroger next time I use it. If I could find someone that wants to make it, I’ll take turns stirring it, because the real good Maroger has lead and needs to be cooked outdoors, carefully, to avoid poisoning. It can be safely made using precautions, then we’d have the best medium for oil paint. The commercial Maroger doesn’t seem as good as the kind I had in art school, and there are different recipes for it. I’m pretty sure lead makes it nice and slick, but it needs other ingredients not easily available. A guy with an art supply store in York PA. years ago made the recipe our teachers wanted him to make for the students, and sold it in baby food jars.

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  1. Agree with you about the black “colors”. I can’t think of a time I ever used black straight out of the tube. It just looks really flat and dead. Sometimes I mix thalo blue with it for a nice blue-black, other times I mix colors like you described to get cool or warm “black”.

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