Under the Sea

Little One wants to go snorkeling! Sadly, the past two years of the pandemic have been putting our travel plans on hold. That includes of course exotic destinations and the warmer climate during the cold winters in the Netherlands. Who else misses flying afar, feeling the sunshine and cooling off in the sea? Hopefully this pandemic will subside and before we know it we will be able to do that once again! I shall meanwhile continue dreaming… and painting about it! And what more cuteness than feature Little One indulging in a little snorkel in the sea?

Oil Paint

This piece was made during one of my Tuesday evening abstract classes with Dieter Klassen. One of the things I love about his class is that we get to try something different and go beyond our comfort zone which is typical in many of the art classes I’ve done both off and on-line by various artists. And how exciting, I will be using oil paint for this piece! It is the first time painting with this medium and I was rather curious. Oil paint is rarely used nowadays, replaced by acrylic paint. Instead of water, turpentine is used as a solvent for oil paint, giving a strong odor and can be toxic, hence unsuitable in a home studio. You can nowadays, though get odor-free turpentine. In addition, oil paint takes weeks to dry and hence you are limited to what you can do, ie not suitable for layering. Still, oil paint gives a beautiful finish with its strong rich colors and is lightfast, lasting for centuries. We shall see!

Acrylic Paint Background

One of the most important things Dieter told us is that oil paint can be layered on dried acrylic paint but not the other way around as the binder is water-based hence resistant to oil and could result in chipping off. The background for this painting thus begins with a coat of acrylic paint. For this piece, I went for a large canvas board. I find them very versatile as the canvas gives you the advantage that paper cannot such as thickness and piling lots of paint on whilst at the same time they are compact and don’t take up room like framed canvas would. A brayer was used to spread the blend of Amsterdam Acrylic Turquoise Blue and Olive Green Light and whilst wet, a textured brayer was rolled on top for some effect.

Painting On

Having let the acrylic background dry, I was ready to start painting! The theme this time was to be about fish from which I found a perfect opportunity to incorporate Little One snorkelling by the pair of huge goldfishes, the size of baby whales! I firstly painted the outline of the two fishes with some orange oil paint. Painting with it took quite a while to get used to but I liked how the brush glides smoothly on the canvas. It was also not as messy as I envisioned, and here we used non-odor turpentine which, like water and watercolor, is used to dilute paint, remove mistakes and clean the brushes. Meanwhile, I continued for a while with acrylic for Little One even spreading on some modelling paste for her hair for some texture. Some oil paint will be incorporated on her as we shall see later. Waiting for the acrylic paint and modelling paste on Little One to dry, I continued painting the two fishes with the oil paint, enjoying how smoothly it was gliding along the surface.

Adding Details

Once the modelling paste was dry, I painted the hair with some brown acrylic paint then some oil paint on top for some dimension. A lighter shade of pink oil paint was then layered on top for her outfit and diving mask. I continued using oil paint till the end and by then I was getting more accustomed to it. As for the white oil paint used for the eyes, collar and bubbles, I was pleasantly amazed how it remained very white without merging with the colors below, something I find difficult to achieve with acrylic paint. And here we are! Little One looks ever so adorable again floating around with cuteness as always. And I love how vivid and rich the colors turned out with oil paint, enhancing the lively mood.

What a wonderful experience this exercise was! I never imagined I’d use oil paint at all. This piece certainly shows how this medium is not limited to classical art and can certainly be combined with kawaii illustrations. The only drawback is that I could not take the painting home for about 6 weeks as I had to let it completely dry. However, it was all worth waiting for! Now I understand why oil paint has been a preferred medium for many professional artists as the results are amazing and quite pleasant to work with. I for one would definitely paint with it again using non-odor solvents. It is however not practical to work with it at home given the space needed to let the painting dry. And it could get quite messy too. So why not do more at Dieter’s art class and have them stored there till ready?

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