Category Archives: Art Instruction

Oil Painting Video Demo: Old Barns

In this post I wanted to share with you a short two-minute Oil Painting Video Demo: Old Barns.

Alla Prima or the Direct Method of Painting

In this tutorial, the subject of old tin barns, which were found in New Mexico made a nice subject for this painting demonstration. The direct method or alla prima approach was used in which the entire painting was completed in one session.

Oil Painting Tutorial; Old New Mexico Barns

Thanks for watching!

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Oil Painting Composition Critiquing a Critique

In this blog post I decided to talk about oil painting composition, critiquing a critique.

While researching the subject, I came across a respected artist and author who was using works by other artists as examples where composition mistakes had been made. The artist/author then suggested solutions for improvement and did so by modifying the image.

Respectfully, the author did not include the artist’s name to which he was critiquing. However, one example caught my attention.The painting being critiqued was done by an all time favorite master artist named Clark Hulings! I recognized it from a 1999 show catalog that I have.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE PAINTING? (Nothing as you will see)

This is the Hulings painting cited as an example whereby a painting composition “rule” was broken.

Clark Hulings Goat Milk Vendor

The so called “rule” was avoiding strong geometric shapes, even if naturally occurring as they can be too distracting.

A strong triangular shape produced by the apparent shadow of a building at the bottom of Hulings painting was the culprit. I agree with the rule to an extent, but everything in a composition is relative to the artist’s vision and even if some supposed rule is broken, yet it serves a legitimate purpose, so be it.

A Composition Improvement? Maybe not

Here’s the modified version suggested by the artist/author which was recreated. The suggested improvement was variegating the shadow, thus breaking up the geometric triangular form.

Is this really an improvement? Here’s my analysis.

Critiquing the Critique

Let’s take a look at the shadow without the chicken along the left side of the triangular shape and the scattered darks near the back edge.

Obviously the shadow overwhelms the painting and your eye drops to it. However, Hulings did two things. First, he added the chicken and broke the line. Secondly, by adding the scattered darks near the edge of the canvas he softened the line and kept your eye from exiting at that point. Obviously, Hulings was aware of the geometric shape.

The goat milk vendor is the obvious focal area. In the so called improvement, the eye now drops and travels in sort of a merry-go-round fashion.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. However, in Hulings original painting the eye stays at the focal area, held in place by the arrow formed by the shadow which lines up and points to the center of action.

It’s true that no artist is free from making mistakes, however, my conclusion is that Hulings was too much of a master painter and in this instance, he deliberately kept the painting as it was to fix your attention on the primary subject.

In Conclusion

The story of the painting is clearly about the goat milk vendor who takes his goat and instead of delivering the milk in bottles, the householder comes and offers a pan and the vendor milks the goat on the spot. How’s that for fresh?

Everything else in the composition is subordinate to the story and the focal area of action. Hulings didn’t make a mistake. He kept that strong shape for a legitimate reason. He used it to make you look where he wanted you to look. So to repeat: Everything in a oil painting composition is relative to the artist’s vision and even if some supposed rule is broken, yet it serves a legitimate purpose, so be it.

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Paris France Oil Painting Demo

With this final segment of my Paris France oil painting demo, work is brought to completion. In the previous stage, refinements were made to the focal area.

The next step was to work on the building in the upper right which was still unfinished. Since this building is situated at a different angle to the light, it is kept cooler. Brush work is also minimized with sharper detail towards my clients wife in the window. The sharpness of contrast leads your eye to that area.

paris france oil painting demo detail by Byron

Moving On

Now that the primary buildings are mostly done, it’s time to move on to the building on the left. The goal for this section is to keep it more painterly and less detailed. This building brings balance to the heaviness of the composition on the right side, however it should not compete. Therefore, detail was minimized for the same reason as the upper section of the building on the right. Also, the building is in shadow, so all colors are kept to the cool side and kept to a darker value.

After this the next major element to be painted was the Eifel Tower. Enough detail was added to mimic the “texture” of the tower without rendering tight detail which kept it in the distance. Colors are kept subdued and within the overall color scheme. Keeping in mind, the tower although an important element is not the primary subject, but my client’s wife in the window.

Paris France oil painting demo

Painting the Sky

After letting the painting dry, it’s time to go and finish the sky. More intensity of color is added and is applied with thicker paint and bolder brush work. More details and brush work are now added into the distance trees. The lone figure in the distance is painted in as well as the two gentlemen on the left engaged in conversation. A perspective bobble on a vertical line is corrected on the left building. I have so much valued the T-square in this painting!

The street is now repainted to represent the darker brick pavement. To make the street recede colors are kept cooler in the distance and warmer in the front. The basic mix was ultramarine blue and cadmium red medium towards the front with more cooler and lighter violet tones in the distance.

oil painting demo of Paris

THE LAST STAGE of the Paris France Oil Painting Demo

Finally the last of the main elements being the Citroen car and the male figure on the sidewalk are painted in. More detail (subtle highlights) to mimic the texture of the brick street is also added.

A final refinement is bringing a veil of color onto the lower half of the middle building and some added highlights in a few spots. The darkening veil represents a long shadow from the trees in relation to the angle of light. And the few subtle highlights sets up an implied diagonal line from the light source pointing in a downward angle towards the primary subject of my client’s wife the star of the painting!

Oil Painting of a Paris Street scene with Eifell Tower by Byron

Here are a few details. Click the image for a larger view.

oil painting demo of paris france detail

oil painting demo Eifell Tower, paris street scene detail

I hope you’ve enjoyed following along with this Paris France Oil Painting Demo and commissioned painting. If you would like to learn more about commissioned work, please see the following page. COMMISSIONS

A happy customer!

customer of commissioned oil painting by William Byron Hagerman

 

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Color Mixing Workshop

Mixing colors are a challenge for most art students. Therefore,  I recently conducted a one day color mixing workshop. Through a series of exercises, attendees were able to get a clearer understanding of how to analyze and mix paint by doing specific color charts.

Preprinted color charts or those done by others are really of little value. To learn to mix colors, YOU must do the work. Learning comes from the doing, not solely by viewing the end result.

Choosing the colors

The color palette of choice for doing the exercises in the color mixing workshop are listed in the following blog post.

Here’s a short video of the class. It’s also my first attempt at making a video. 🙂 Hope you enjoy it!

Color Mixing Workshop Video

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Refining the Focal Area

In this segment on my oil painting demo of Paris France, “serious” work begins with refining the focal area, starting with the shadowed side of the middle building. This was done so the values of the adjacent sky and distant building in the sunlight could be judged against it. Cool reflected sky colors were added into the shadowed side which helps it recede.

oil painting demo refining a focal area by Byron

Work continued downward painting in the section between the two main buildings and into the courtyard area. Once dry the wrought iron gate was painted over it keeping the detail to a minimum with just enough to express its character.

oil painting demo paris france wrought iron gate entry

COMPOSITION REFINEMENT

Two important compositional changes in refining the focal area were also made from the original drawing. First, the woman pedestrian in the foreground returned to her apartment. She forgot something so she had to go. Her purpose was to act as a jump point for the eye to travel through the scene. However, a simpler approach of adding more potted flowers would serve the same purpose. Additionally, more emphasis is shifted to my client’s wife in the window. Blue colored French style planters brings balance to each side of the entry way. Plus it allowed more of my clients favorite colors to be added into the scene.

A slight fractional increase in the size of my clients wife in the window was the second compositional change along with changing her outfit’s color to purple, her favorite color. Adding a spot of red in the potted Geraniums next to her also prompts the eye to move to that area.

That warm touch of red adds a bit of color contrast to an area composed of cool colors. The reason for all these tones of violet, blue and even cool greens in this side of the building is that it’s at a different angle to the light. Therefore, being in shadow, it receives more reflected light from the sky.

PROGRESS

The next phase of work begins with painting in the light side of the middle building. Once this is dry, perspective angles will be checked and redrawn if necessary. More refinements and details will be added. Don’t misunderstand the term detail. This can also mean simplify and with so much architectural motifs on these buildings they need to be played down and that can be even more difficult than rendering them in tight detail.

Again the painting is not about the architecture, but my client’s wife and the time they shared in Paris. Everything in the painting has to support this concept. Additionally per their request the painting needs to be kept more impressionistic. In the end some elements will likely be softened. Even with buildings you can’t have all hard edges!

oil painting demo paris street scene

Hope you’ll come back to see more.

 

 

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How to Choose a Color Palette

When it comes to painting, no two artists seem to agree on how to choose a color palette. After all, painting is subjective as it reflects the temperament of the artist and his or her own color sense. A student or newcomer to painting is often left scratching their head as to what colors are best. It’s then compounded by so many choices as to brands of paint. This post hopefully will adequately address both issues.

how to choose a color palette

COLOR SELECTION

When choosing a palette it should be capable of producing vivid mixtures of all 12 hues on the color wheel.
Basic color theory states that the 3 primaries of yellow, red and blue when intermixed will produce all other colors. Then along with white and black to produce tints and shades of those color is all that’s needed. In reality that’s not the case. What we often think of as being a primary yellow, red and blue from our childhood school days will not produce all the hues on a color wheel to their full spectrum of intensity.

A BETTER CHOICE ON HOW TO CHOOSE A COLOR PALETTE

In printing, inks used to reproduce a color image are yellow, cyan and magenta. Just like your printer at home. Paints closely matching this would be Cadmium Yellow Light or Pale, Permanent Rose or Quinacridone Rose and Phthalo Blue. The intensity of the secondary colors when mixing any two of these primary colors is much improved.

So are these 3 colors enough to produce a full spectrum range? Not really. It can further be improved by adding a purchased premixed color corresponding to one of the secondary colors in the green, violet and orange range. Which ones? The colors of choice are: Cadmium Orange (for Orange), Winsor Newton Permanent Green (for Green) and Dioxazine Purple. (for Violet)  Adding Titanium White and either Ivory or Oxide black and you have a basic set of 6 colors plus white and black.

To get the most intensity, mix your primary with one of these tubed colors to get your remaining intermediate colors which are often referred to as tertiary colors. In the tests that I have done in mixing I found this set up to give a very intense range of spectrum hues. To lower the intensities of these bright colors, you can add its compliment or add a gray from a mixture of approximately half Ivory Black and half Raw Umber. This gray can be added to lower the intensities for most colors except for yellow and yellow orange. Why? The resulting mixture has a green cast. To over come this I mix one other gray for those colors. I use the Black/Umber mix and then add Permanent Rose until it takes on a hue of a dark violet. This will dull the yellow and yellow orange without it shifting green thus keeping it in the right color family.

The List of Basics

  • Cadmium Yellow Light or Pale (yellow)
  • Permanent Rose or Quinacridone Rose (red)
  • Phthalo Blue (Blue)
  • Cadmium Orange (Orange)
  • Dioxazine Purple (Violet)
  • Winsor & Newton Permanent Green (Green)
  • Titanium White
  • Ivory or Oxide Black
  • Raw Umber (if you plan to use tt with black to make a gray to modify color intensities)

Likely you will not be painting with such vivid colors. To dull the intensity you mix their compliments. In theory those colors are opposite on the color wheel. Sometimes when working with these pigments a compliment that is not directly across may produce a more pleasing result. This is where actually taking your paint and mixing colors is beneficial. If you were a hair stylist you couldn’t call yourself one if you never cut hair. You can’t rely on the work of others. You have to do the work yourself. Mix your own colors. Learn how they interact as you mix. Stop relying on all those printed color wheels and charts. Make your own.

In time, you can add other colors to this basic set. I like having a variety such as the various earth tones in the dull orange and brown ranges such as Burnt Sienna or Transparent Oxide Red and Burnt Umber. Some colors have unique pigments and the way they behave in a mixture can’t be duplicated with this basic set. So having some optional colors expands your color range. In time you will find which colors fit your own aesthetics.

Brands of Paint

Just as deciding on which colors to buy, choosing within what brands can also be daunting from the amount of choices. In my opinion, buy the best you can afford. Price is a pretty good indicator as to quality. Good paints produce better color mixtures. I enjoy some colors in one brand as opposed to the same in another.

In the following link a rather extensive review is given regarding many of the popular brands of paint with pros and cons. I agree (for the most part) with statements on this site. Again it boils down to a personal choice. I hope this will give you a good starting point when it comes to choosing your palette of colors and the available brands of paint that are out there. Happy color mixing!

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Benefits of Painting a Still Life

You’re the Conductor!

What are the benefits of painting a still life? This question came back to mind while preparing paintings for my exhibit at the Winnsboro Art & Wine Festival. The show wouldn’t be complete without having a painting or two featuring the fruit of the vine (grapes) which I show here done by my alter ego Byron. A nice departure from my landscapes. There are several benefits of painting a still life and right off the bat you get to be the conductor of your painting!

still life oil painting with grapes vase candle by Byron

My Little Vase 12×9 oil by Byron copyright 2016

Unlike landscapes you get to have total control over the lighting, color harmony and the subject matter. For landscapes you’re at the mercy of the weather. Many times I’ve wished for sunlight but instead overcast skies with no sign of them leaving anytime soon. Or hoping for brilliant fall foliage only to get dull shades of burnt orange or worse, no leaves on the trees! That brings us to another benefit: Timing!

No Timing Constraints; More Benefits of Painting a Still Life

Another advantage of painting a still life is that there are no time constraints. Unless of course you’re on a deadline to complete a painting or if you’re painting flowers and they’ve started to wilt or the fruit is starting to rot then that’s yucky. In which case you might be painting a little too slow. But, aside from those an artist can orchestrate a simple or complex composition as he or she wishes and study the scene at leisure with all it’s intricacies of color, light and shadow as it describes the various forms.

Since the scene is set and unmovable an artist will have ample time to work on drawing from life, which is an invaluable skill as opposed to seeing a flat image (photo) and drawing from it.

Still life paintings are also beneficial in that the objects form is more readily discernible. These forms are often oval, rectangular, cylindrical, cone shaped or combinations. These same geometric forms underlie objects in the landscape. If you learn to properly shade these forms in a still life with a single source of light, you will better understand how to shade other objects whose structure incorporates these various forms in the landscape.

still life oil painting with raku vase grapes orange by Byron

Raku Vase 9×12 oil by Byron copyright 2016

Communicating a Theme

Another benefit of painting a still life, is being able to communicate a story. But, does that mean that all the objects have to relate to one another? If you wish for a rustic theme, does it mean you have to leave out something elegant or vice versa? No! As long as the theme visually harmonizes and creates interest.  As an example here is a frame style combination that is both rustic and elegant. So they can work together, just as in a still life!

frame corner style of rustic and elegance

Rustic and Elegant frame style

The benefits of painting a still life are valuable both to the newbie artist and a good reminder to someone like me who hasn’t tried their hand at a still life in sometime. I have to say it was a lot of fun! Plus, I was able to render each of these still life paintings in one alla prima painting session. (All at once) Perhaps one day I will do a William Hagerman signature still life painting!

Would love to hear your thoughts about my still life work? As the Winnsboro show approaches I’ll be posting more of the art to be in the exhibit. Thanks for reading!

One last reminder before I go, is my latest eBay auction work going on now until 6PM Pacific Time on Tuesday October 18th. Fall is in the air in this mountain setting. Inspired by a trip near Trinidad, Colorado.

The Call of Autumn 9x12 oil by Byron for eBay auction

The Call of Autumn 9×12 oil by Byron for eBay auction

You can access the auction from my eBay profile page.

 

 

 

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How to Paint Bluebonnets

How to paint bluebonnets is the the focus here in part 4 of my oil painting demo series of posts on painting a Texas bluebonnet landscape.

First, I want to show the completed painting. This will give you an idea of where the painting is going. Click on the image for a larger view.

bluebonnet oil painting by William "Byron" Hagerman

I set the stage for the bluebonnets by putting in the grasses working from back to front. I darken the values as I come forward.

part4_1sml

Next I work to cover the rest of the canvas. I’m not focusing heavily on details at this point, just getting my under-painting done. For some of the textures of the grasses I like to use an old jagged edged bristle fan brush.

part4_2sml

After the paint dries I then move on to massing in the bluebonnets with a dark value of blue based off of Ultramarine. I departed somewhat in my traditional mixture by adding Indanthrene Blue by Winsor & Newton into the mix. Since bluebonnets lean towards blue violet I also add in some Dioxine Purple or add Permanent Rose or Alizarin for variety.

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I continue with my dark mix for the bluebonnets, working out a pattern that leads the eye back into the painting.

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After this layer dries I start adding lighter values for the bluebonnets working from the back to front.

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Here’s a detail of the bluebonnets.

how to paint bluebonnets

Another up close view of the painted bluebonnets.

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Once I finished all the bluebonnets I proceeded to other areas of the painting that needed the finish work such as the big tree, rocks, and cactus and a little bit of cutting back into the bluebonnets here and there with the grass color. I wanted to make sure they didn’t look as though they were floating and make the pattern more pleasing and believable.

The following are up close sections so you can see more of the finished detail. As you can see I’ve kept tight detail to a minimum. However, due to the size of the painting it looks more detailed than it really is. I first finish the pattern of the foliage with light dark and middle values. Then I add tree limbs. When dry I negative shape paint the sky holes, chiseling out the forms of limbs and further modifying the shape of the tree.

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Another patch of completed bluebonnets and surrounding vegetation and rocks.

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Detail of the middle ground cactus.

part5_cactusdetail_sml

Here’s the cactus in the foreground. Here you can see some individual bluebonnets scattered around although not haphazardly. I’m keeping my design in mind. These bluebonnets are a supportive role to the larger masses. Again on the topic of how to paint bluebonnets, notice how the bluebonnets have a dark value, followed by a lighter value and finally a white cap on top. It gives the flowers depth. Also some of the cactus stickers are hinted at. However, in the above image I have not added them except for a few catching the light. Why? They’re further away and your eye would not pick up that kind of detail. Plus the amount of detail has to be in proportion to the rest of the details in the painting. In other words, if your painting is more impressionistic would it make sense to add a bunch of tight detail on an object and leave the rest loosely painted. This might work on a close up view and keeping a background simple, but remember to keep your overall painting in mind and don’t get caught up in rendering details and loose focus on the whole. Every section has to relate to the other.

part5_foregroundcactus_sml

Below is a detail section of rocks. Remember a rock is a shape. It has sides and how the rock is positioned in relation to the light you will have different values. If only two sides are visible you will have a a light and shadow area. The same is true if you can see three sides, but you will have three values at a minimum. Light, mid value and shadow.  Don’t put your sunlight colors in areas that are to be in shadow or put shadow colors in areas that are in the light. Colors in the light are warmer, those in shadow are cooler, but sometimes they can appear somewhat warmer due to a warm reflected light bouncing off other warm colored rocks in sunshine. You learn to paint rocks by studying them. No good substitute for observing them and paying attention to how the light describes their form.

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Here’s the detail area of the tree on the left and a view of the distant hills and lower sky. In painting the tree the sequence is establish the foliage first, them indicate limb structure and finally paint in the negative shapes on the sides of the limbs and other sky holes keeping in mind what’s in behind the tree. Often you will have to paint those values a little darker since they can appear to be stuck on top of the tree instead of being behind it. You can also modify the sky hole a little by overlapping it with some tree foliage.

part5_treehilldetail_sml

And finally here’s another close up view of the clouds in the right hand corner area. Again like any other shape a cloud has form to it and as such is subject to having light and shadow sides. Best way to learn to paint clouds is by actually studying them.

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I hope that these series of posts will benefit you in your own painting.  Have fun learning!

 

 

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Painting Clouds an Oil Painting Demo

Here in part 3 of my oil painting demo of a Texas landscape I move on to painting clouds and the sky.

To begin the sky I start at the horizon. I do this to judge my values against the distant hill and values on the shadowed side of the tree up against the sky area. Click image to see a larger view.

painting clouds oil painting demo

Just as in the landscape portion of the painting the goal is to achieve a sense of distance. It is not some blue flat backdrop for the rest of the painting. There is aerial perspective in the sky and a diminishing size on the clouds as they move into the distance. The amount of dust particles or other adulterants floating in the air has an effect on the colors as the recede just as in the landscape portion. Typically white clouds are somewhat “whiter” for lack of a better word closer to you with often a discernible shift in the color of the white portion of the clouds towards orange to a pinkish hue near the horizon.

In the photo below of some white clouds you can see what I’m talking about somewhat at least. Notice how the whites have shifted to a pinkish gray towards the horizon.

color recession in clouds

color recession in clouds

Also the contrast becomes more subtle between the light and shadow areas of the clouds as they recede and colors become grayer. I’m not talking white and black gray here. Just duller in intensity.  I chose a variety of violet grays for this painting. Also be sure to overlap some clouds. This will make your painting more authentic and create a greater sense of depth.

After I establish a few of the clouds I then paint in the rest of the blue portion of the sky.

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Think of the sky of having 3 bands. A top section, middle and bottom and each section is further away. The top has more blue with a touch of red, so I use some ultramarine blue to the middle color which has more phthalo blue in it. The reason is that there is often a yellow element shifting the sky towards green as it recedes. I even use a little phthalo green. But once it gets to the horizon it shifts to a gray.

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Here’s the sky in context to the rest of the painting at this stage.

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In the next session I will move onto the rest of the landscape.

 

 

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Oil Painting Demo of a Texas Landscape

Here in my second post of my oil painting demo of a Texas Landscape I pick up where I left off in step two.

Since the distant hills are an important secondary area of interest in this painting, I return to add more detail and interest to this area including a distant oak tree and placing of bluebonnets in the distant field. Due to atmospheric perspective all the colors in this area are kept cooler and grayer (less intense) compared to what will be used in the middle and foreground areas to come.

Texas bluebonnet oil painting demo

Feeling I had not yet achieved enough interest I then add another oak tree in the distance. I then move to the far left middle and added the next larger oak with cedar growing underneath and the beginnings of a mesquite tree in front. I like to use an old fan bristle brush that has jagged edges or a cheapo fan brush whereby the hairs break off quickly to mimic the look of the foliage on the mesquite. In spring time the mesquite trees can be an intense yellow green.

bluebonnet oil painting demo

Next in the 5th step I paint in the rock outcropping on the left. When painting rocks remember to think in artistic terms. Don’t think rock, think shapes that will have a top and side planes and they have different values. Light and shadow!

bluebonnet oil painting demo

In my next post I move on to the sky area. Actually I’ve already covered the whole canvas and have started blocking in the middle and foreground bluebonnets. I’ll get caught up on sharing all the steps, but I have a deadline to meet. Busy, busy! Thanks for following along.

 

 

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