Working methods

January 12, 2012

One of the ladies from decoartuk asked me about my working methods, here is a reply:

Thanks for asking, none of my working methods are secret. Short answer, brushes, no palette knives.
Long answer: the latest painting is done like this (on canvas board):
  1. I coat the whole board very quickly with various acrylic colours thinned out with matte medium so they go on transparent.
  2. Working fast, I scratch in a trial layout (with a wooden saté stick-  like a long toothpick) of the bottles, then to not get too attached to it and to provide some scratchy background I turn the canvas board 90 degrees and scratch in another design perpendicular to the first one.
  3. Then I start wiping teh paint out of the areas that will be highights with tissue paper or a rag. Sometimes I use a damp brush. The acrylic is partly dry by now so it is interesting which parts come away, creating weird highlights and unexpected textures.
  4. At this point I usually start working in very thin layers of oil paints.  But with the latest painting I added a bit of opaque white acrylic and colour and started putting on glazes because it doesn’t take long to dry and I can keep that crispness I like from the underpainting.

By the way, you’d mentioned that one thing holding you back from trying oils was the drying time. I thought about that as well, but once you start to work with them, you realize that it isn’t about putting on one layer and then waiting a couple of months for it to dry before you can paint further 🙂 . Rather you keep working into areas and building them up. And the way I am working, with thin layers (using Zest lemon oil medium to thin with) I can paint over things in a day or two.

Check out this video of Liam who visits here once in awhile. You can see how far you can come in a couple of sittings.

4 Responses to “Working methods”

  1. decorartuk Says:

    Oh, Sarah – thank you for this post. I didn’t expect such an explanation! I think having read this I will have to try out your technique. By the way, I was so sure that you use palette knives…

    I don’t know where it will get me, but a few months ago I saw some paintings that might not have been interesting in terms of subject and colours, yet they had texture, and I’ve been meaning to do something like that myself. I’m sure the first “pancake” will be burnt, but I promise to continue practising.

    Thank you once again.


    • szoutewelle Says:

      Hi Kristina, I’ve left a trail of burnt pancakes (tee hee) on and off for years really. Though I had some passsable quite interesting (perhaps) paintings to show after each period where I tried to get into painting, most of them were just experiments. (But at the same time I continued making art with oil pastels and other media that were more successful in terms of results).

      I’ve been painting fairly regularly for the past 4 months now and am only now starting to sense a direction. So I think it depends on how hungry you are in terms of wanting to paint. You’ll do fine. Maybe you could try starting with a couple of 3 inch by 3 inch thumbnails on canvas paper first. Just noodle around with the acrylic technique and knock off 10 fast ones. cheers, Sarah

  2. decorartuk Says:

    I love the idea of doing just little thumbnails and painting fast – I guess I always hope for a masterpiece, so burnt pancakes are a very big disappointment… I’m sure the 10 tiny “masterpieces” will be a very good exercise. Thanks.


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