It can be hard to gauge the exact amount of paint that’s needed for a painting. Rather than waste any paint that’s left over (oil paint isn’t cheap you know!) I’ll often start another painting.
So it was that last October I found myself with lots of cadmium red left over from a painting I had just finished. I had been working on a piece that had cadmium red in a prominent front position (which topical and seasonal October piece could that be?) As well as the red there was also a good amount of the earth colours on the palette, just right for skin tones.
I settled on attempting a painting of a lady in a red dress, sitting in a lush shady spot.
An Acrylic Underpainting
The painting has been done on cold press watercolour paper, you can really see the texture on the finished scan. There is a rough acrylic underpainting over which I put a layer of acrylic medium just to make sure all the paper was sealed before the oil layers were applied on top.
I could have used the oil on the palette for the underpainting but I wanted that layer dry before I started the main painting. I wasn’t keen on doing much wet-on-wet and I didn’t have the patience for too many oils which can take so long to dry.
There wasn’t any green on the palette initially but I tried to be very judicious in putting out the blues (ultramarine & pthalo) and cadmium yellow. There was hardly any waste at the end of the first two layers of oil.
And then, inexplicably bored and frustrated with the project, I abandoned both this blog post, which I had already begun, and the painting – up on a high shelf – until this week.
Always Finish a Painting
I had just completed the initial layers of a new painting (a fun little painting that I hope to reveal in the coming weeks) and had put that aside to dry. There was, again, some cadmium red left over on the palette, perhaps that’s what jogged my memory.
Always finish a painting is what you’re often told. I certainly have been guilty of completely abandoning a piece and using it for scrap paper. But I try to limit the number of times this happens because there are lessons to learn from observing what has gone wrong with a painting, trying to correct its mistakes and overcoming any difficulties. It can also be satisfying to end up with a decent painting when you were sure it was going to be an utter failure.
What has surprised me with this painting is how little work it took to get to the finish.
It always surprises me, you think a piece is far from complete and that it’s going to take a huge effort to turn out okay but then you apply a few strokes of paint and everything comes together.
This painting turned out nicely. I’m finding those two plant fronds at the top annoying and I much prefer the crop you can see below, but all in all I’m pleased with it.
You can buy prints of this painting in my shop here: The Shade in Red.