Last weekend, we had a lovely break in the north of the Netherlands, a place called Weerribben on the border of Friesland. It is about 20 km away from the famous Giethoorn, known as the Venice of the North. As such, the areas are known for its wetlands. One afternoon, we decided to have a stroll in the neighbourhood with its vast grass fields and waterways. It is winter now, so much of the livestock including cows are not visible. But we came across the occasional cat! Of course, cats are everywhere. Hunting for field mice. Of course I decided to paint about it when I got home! The field mice are replaced by fish in my painting because we were in the wetlands.
This time, I went for a larger size paper, Talens Van Gogh Mixed Media Paper in A3. Acrylic ink and fluid acrylic were then used for my background rather than paint because it is more fluid to suit the light touch I was aiming for. When we were there, the weather was beautiful with clear skies and the grass still green even though we were approaching winter. I then combined Sennelier’s ink in Azure Blue and Golden’s Fluid Acrylic in Cobalt Blue for the sky and blended them on paper with my fingers. For the field I used the same method but instead painted in green; two Emerald Greens from different manufacturers (Amsterdam Acrylic and Daler & Rowney). Combined with those was some paint, a pretty shade of Iridescent Green by Old Holland. Somehow, I’ve been in an iridescent pearly mood lately. Some Coarse Granular Gel by Golden was spread on the bottom of the painting to represent the hedge.
I wasn’t sure what colour to use with the water. I first tried some grey as the water in the area is a bit dark, and I also didn’t want it confused with the blue sky. However, grey made the river look like a road instead! I then improvised by combining the grey with some turquoise; once again I used acrylic ink instead of paint for that “runny” look, going for Turquoise Blue by Amsterdam Acrylic and then some of the blue I used for the sky. To make it even more interesting and even more fluid-looking, I blended the colours with some Liquitex Gloss Medium and White Metallic paint by ARA. Told you am in the iridescent phase at the moment!
Oil Pastel Experiment
Inspired by the digital drawing I made the other day using “oil pastels”, I decided to try this medium over my acrylic background. It’s actually the first time using it on top as I normally do the other way around, ie. water resists oil and you get some interesting effect. That said oil pastels work better on top anyhow. Here, I used oil pastels by Talens Van Gogh (student-grade) and Sennelier (professional) and you can really feel the difference. The red fish is from the Sennelier and the pink from Van Gogh. If you look closely, Sennelier is more concentrated not only in terms of colour but has more oil so it can be applied smoothly and have good coverage without looking “bitty”. The cat was also drawn and coloured in with Sennelier oil pastel in gold.
I really like Sennelier’s pastels now. As they are a bit pricey, I started with buying only red, blue and turquoise as well as the set of metallic colours. More colours will definitely be added now that I’ve tried them out! Nevertheless, I continued using the Van Gogh pastels for the less crucial bits like the clouds in the sky. I first lined them in white and then just lightly coloured them in with Sennelier’s pastel in silver. Details in the water were added with some of the metallic colours. And here is what it all looks like with oil pastels over acrylic.
As seen earlier, I spread some Clear Granular Gel on the bottom bit of the painting. That was intended to be for the hedge, and I wanted to add some texture and dimension to it, as if we were standing by the hedge overlooking the field in the distance. First I used some Lemon Yellow acrylic ink (Daler & Rowney) over the area and then spread some of the brighter shade of the Emerald Green over it. For the open space on the right side of the field, I doodled in a bit of grass with my Sennelier Abstract 3D acrylic liner in bright green. A bit of a fun abstract landscape painting with the oversized cats and fish, but I wanted to focus on the kawaii. And now:
Not bad for the first time experimenting with oil pastels over acrylic. I would definitely do it again. The only drawback is that oil pastels are made of non-drying oil which may smudge when stored. I have sprayed some fixative over the painting but it’s always best to frame it with glass to restore it. Still, I do love the combination of the two mediums. I also love experimenting with new ideas like the iridescent paints and the Granular Gel. And I will continue to create more animated and abstract landscape work like this with my cute little characters! Going out more and observing my surroundings certainly helps as it did this time.