Anita West “Breaking the White Space”

Anita West
Working with oil sticks

Anita West is a local artist from Eldorado, NM presented a demo on breaking the white canvas. It’s inspiration time.

When she began doing really large paintings Plein air   she found that by drawing them with oil sticks. There is a skin on the oil sticks which must be remove  before you begin.

Start with raw umber. Add in different tones. Raw Umber will help with values. The brand she uses are  Sennelier and Windsor Newton, Shiver and R and F (new soft stick).

Today she  will compare water media and oil media. Her first painting will be oil. Then doing demo on aqua media which includes acrylic.  Big paintings with a brush can take a long time. She likes to do big canvases. And found that galleries will allow 1 1/2″ gallery wrap paintings.

To start, divide the canvas into 3-5 shapes with an interesting positive and negative shape. Using Shiva raw umber to lay it out. RnF. goes on heavy. Use for shadows.  She is using the side lit approach.  A Light and dark photo and a form photo are used as reference. After drawing in the shapes she takes a large brush with gambol to wet it and blend the lines somewhat. Could be a drawing painting at this point. Keep going back to source ie.  photo. Stop when get what you don’t want then go to dark value. Can’t just focus on color.  “Value does the work and color gets the credit.”

She enjoys the linear quality.  Tone or line.  It take her about  canvas 2 1/2 hours outdoors to get her canvas toned.  Don’t have to color the whole thing. Raw umber gives sky enough grays to get color
When outdoors she mixes colors in advance. If you see an edge you need to correct  your value. Add white for less edge. Put tone in. Work with a limited palette.

Cad yellow light, Ultra marine blue, cad red lisn’t and  alizerien Crimson are what she is using today.  The Impressionist triad. Use colors you love. Need that heart connection. Different brushes for darks an lights. Keep the enthusiasm of a 2 year old.

Anita learned how to not have an edge by using a value scale and using view finder, Red plastic. This also has information on making Picture perfect. Grids, composition, and value scale. See everything in black and white. Look at painting then at value scale. Close one eye. Looking across value scale. When it’s right there will be no edge.  Color out of Photos red view finder that takes the lie. They make darks darker and lights lighter

“Once you work from life you can paint anything”
Can go back in with oil sticks and blend. Mix paints on canvas. Same as with brush. Oil pastel never dries needs to be framed.

Water soluble crayon cand’arche. Windsor Newton water color stick. Markers. Watercolor. Backlit painting. Photo. Edge ore area. Can smudge with just water. Lifting techniques.  Be sure your surface can hold water. Can also use mineral spirits. Can also spritz with water.
After water media you can come in with oil.

If you use liquitex thickening gel for  acrylics you can make it look like oil.  To set up your pallete Put your pigments across one edge, or light at top, dark at bottom. Scrape off paint at end of session and it will keep wet for a week. Masterson palette Allows you to paint outdoors. Can premix colors. She uses  Flat brushes by Windsor Newton and Silver brush company brush called  bristlon.

When to stop. We all get “In the zone” and keep  painting until we loose it. Stop before you think you done.

Other ideas

  • Lay on acrylic with squeedge.
  • Palette knife pastic.
  • Credit cards
  • Oil paint thinly painted on top of oil stick
  • . Schminke is resin based and doesn’t clean well with gamsol.

Earth colors have more sediment.  Raw and burnt umber,Yellow ochre, burnt sienna, paynes gray.  Skill comes in the mixing. To make a color look bright. Put it next to a dull color. Neutrals can make painting stronger. Neida Lelands Book . Old masters used 6 different triads as explained in her book.

“An artist Never has to retire and can continue learning.”
Umber stain. Additional part of palette. Dries quickly. Irving Shapiro uses one spot of intense colors.
Upright surface light. Paint quickly in beginning. Colors that come thru.

Acrylic painters come it with thick paint and medium takes over. Can lift acrylic with denatured alcohol. Gloss medium will make it shines. Can paint on anything with acrylics.
There is an abstract painting under every realistic painting. Value of painting same subject matter treasure hunt to see what appeals. How do I see the world differently. Carlsons book value lightest light sky. For ground next lightest. Darkest uprights. 3/4plains. Darker than ground or sky. But you can break lol the rules by observation. Re burnt yo payees grey. Can mix on canvas. 2ways to paint. Start with control and end with control.or Start abandonment. The go to control. Start with freedom. Do evaluation, what do I need to change. Become objective. Leave parts alone that you like. Change and check on values. Scumble opaque on top of transparent. Dry brush effect. To keep sky light and clean use a new brush.

Oil primed canvas  is her favorite surface. Can get in roll of linen oil primed. Detail or portrait need a slick surface. More we trust intuition once surface is covered. Then go in with contrasts thick thin, light dark etc. energy in starting a painting. Starting Plein air.

Summarizing:  Starting a large painting? Use sticks then washes. Cover the whole canvas. Use Raw umber thinly.


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