Painting Questions

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I am often asked similar questions about my materials, techniques, tools and processes. Here are answers to a few of the more popular questions.

Question: What Surface do you usually use for oil painting and why?

David: In most of the PBS series “Landscapes Through Time”  I paint on either a hot pressed 140 lb. watercolor paper which I have primed with two coats of undiluted polymer gloss varnish (I like Golden’s polymer gloss varnish).  I use this preparation whether I am painting with oils, acrylics or watercolor.  The colors stay bright and undiminished on this surface. I find a greater range of delicate marks using this surface than on an unprepared surface. Using a prepared watercolor surface was a standard aspect of watercolor painting in 19th century England.

Example 1, Translucence, watercolor on varnished 140 lb hot pressed paper,

I also used quadruple hand-primed (with oil paint priming) linen made by Artfix,  #L84C. I also use acrylic universal primed canvases. I do not need to further prime these surfaces. I work directly on them with oils.

All of the materials I mention are available in art supply stores.

Example 2. City Aerial View of Manhattan, 36×36″, oil on canvas,

Example 3. Times Square, oil on linen, 40×60″,

Question:  At present I see you use aluminum, copper, galvanized steel, PVC, and an aluminum composite like Dibond.  Is this now your preferred surface for oil painting and why?

David:  None of these surfaces require priming for oil painting. These panels offer a faster and smoother surface than linen or canvas or even hot pressed watercolor paper. They provide for a greater range of marks, subtle textures, and luminance because of their greater reflectivity. The slightest and subtlest touches of the softest brushes can elicit remarkably diverse effects. Brushed silver, brushed gold and actual 23 karat gold leaf all provide an even greater range of reflectivity and luminance.  And, I use all three substrates.

In a photo or digital reproduction you will not experience the sparkling effects of the metal substrates but, in person you will because your eyes move their focal selections three to four times per second in what are called foveal saccades.   Your angle of incidence creates a stunningly alive and sparkling experience unavailable in a fixed photo shot seen here. Here are two examples but, (as I explained) regrettably you will not be able to experience the sparking of light.

Example 4, oil on brushed silver “Evening Marsh Meander”,

Example 5. Oil on 23 karat gold leaf, “December’s Pine Forest”,

When painting on 23 karat gold leaf or palladium (non- tarnishing metals) I gently varnish the surface with Golden’s polymer gloss varnish to protect the surface from any abrasive action from rags or brushes even though I am using only the softest possible brushes like, Hake, goat or pony hair,  and synthetic sable.

Painting on the metal surfaces is not difficult unless you are trying to reveal the special reflectivity of the metal surface through your paint layers. Then you need to paint with translucent colors and glazes with your opaque territories being thin and limited. To prevent later scuffing of the surface I use a spray UVLS gloss varnish to protect the work and heighten the color effects.

The first weekend in June I will conduct a two day studio workshop in Lyme Connecticut at the Lyme Artists Association.

In July (18, 19, and 20) I will conduct a studio workshop on Nantucket with the Nantucket Arts Association.

Additionally, there may be one spot left in my workshop in Portugal in June. This workshop is sponsored by Adam Cave Gallery in Raleigh NC. Call Adam at the gallery for questions about this week long painting trip with me in an 18th century country estate 919 272 5958.

See this website under Classes and Events “for further details on these workshops and classes.





2 Responses

    • dd_admin

      Linda, so sorry for my terribly late reply but, thank you so much for your supportive comments. Best, David

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