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On the techniques of panel painting and how they apply to miniatures, by Pingo

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 So I have gotten comments like this now and again:

 

8 hours ago, Glitterwolf said:

I'm still a bit baffled how you paint.

At first it seems a bit messy, and then suddenly it all comes together and looks brilliant!

 

and again:

 

On 8/10/2015 at 7:47 AM, smokingwreckage said:

Watching your work unfold is endlessly entertaining. The wood is already fun.

*splorp* It's brown.
*dabdabdab* it's brown with green smudged on it.
*slap*

IT'S AN ALGAL BLOOM ON A SHIPWRECK

How?

HOWWWWW?????

(Edit: I think I can see that you're still building up the colour, but the illusion has already kicked in. Very enthusiastic to see it unfold further.)

 

so I thought I would start a thread to talk some about how I paint, because it works pretty well for me and maybe what I've learned and practiced can help other people too.

 

How I paint miniatures is grounded in how I paint paintings, so that's what I'm going to talk about here.

 

I have a series of WIP photos from a recent painting which I will use to demonstrate.

 

This is the finished painting:

5aab04971490a_NurturingThePhoenix2016.jpg.3080f1172399b1ca74115a4767dc29a9.jpg

 

"Nurturing the Phoenix", oil paint on wooden panel, approx. 18"x24" (would have to pull it out of the painting closet and measure to check)

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I always paint on a well-prepared surface.

 

In miniatures painting this means a cleaned figure which has been lightly primed with Titanium White acrylic paint (despite what some have said, no special primer is needed) and washed with Burnt Umber acrylic paint to bring out details of the sculpture.  They generally look something like this (she said, pulling one of the most recent examples out from her list of attachments):

DSC_0450.jpg.4787413a6dc979add11483749358d1ab.jpg

 

This is based on a classical technique in panel (or canvas) painting, where a white-primed panel (or canvas - I'm going to stop saying this now, but assume it is included as a classical painting support) is washed with what the Renaissance Italians referred to as a veil of color before starting the actual painting.

 

Here we have a masonite (not wood, as I said above) panel, 18 inches by 24, with a very thin veil of color on it.

DSC_0073.jpg.704f2ab9dd5c4811c44eff6e8bceb5d9.jpg

 

 

I primed this panel years ago and let it cure. With oil paint, the longer the cure time the better.

 

A masonite or wood panel is prepared by lightly sanding until it is a little rough, then painting with a warm solution of rabbitskin glue (exactly what it sounds like). This is allowed to dry for a full day, then painted with white oil paint. The best priming is Lead White in linseed oil; it is creamier and yellower than the stark white Titanium Dioxide, and linseed oil is mellower and yellower than the other, bluer oils sometimes used with white oil paints, but it is flexible, strong, and durable.

 

Yes, this is lead paint. I laid it on in two layers, one brushed and then one smoothed with a palette knife. I refuse to sand lead paint to achieve a smooth texture, so this panel has a slightly stucco effect.

 

This has a very light veil of Burnt Umber oil paint laid on, then mostly wiped off. Sometimes I do a much darker veil (as I generally do on miniatures). Burnt Umber is one of the naturally fastest drying oil paints, so I will be able to start painting the next day.

 

And this is why I do not chafe at the prep needed for miniatures painting.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Pingo
Ack! Giant image, sorry!
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Thank you for sharing this!

And that's a very cool painting btw!

Thank you for sharing this!

And that's a very cool painting btw!

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I wish you had posted this a couple years ago before I had to learn it the long way :D

Good stuff, though! I'm still using store-bought acrylic gesso on cheap canvas, but I will probably start using better surfaces and prep now that I've got a few paintings under my belt (more or less). I will probably avoid lead white for the ground, because I do portraits I like a glass smooth surface to work on and yeah, I'm not going to be sanding lead, either.

 

I have a few decent brushes but finally ordered a few nice brushes from Rosemary.

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For anyone else reading this thread, CashWiley's  signature above has a link to his portrait painting thread, which is also fantastic to read if you want to understand more of how traditional art comes together.  I always love reading about art from both Pingo and Cash, tiny bits of their wisdom soak into my brain.  ^_^ 

 

Thanks again to Pingo for writing so many detailed work in progress threads!  

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Thanks! I kinda left off updating the thread and my blog, since it mostly seemed like I was talking to myself :D

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On 3/16/2018 at 2:17 AM, Glitterwolf said:

Thank you for sharing this!

And that's a very cool painting btw!

Thank you for sharing this!

And that's a very cool painting btw!

 

Thanks twice. :lol:

 

On 3/16/2018 at 7:09 AM, Kang said:

really cool stuff, thanks for sharing this.

 

Kang

 

Thank you. I enjoy my work and if something about it can help other people with theirs I'm all for it.

 

On 3/16/2018 at 11:09 AM, CashWiley said:

I wish you had posted this a couple years ago before I had to learn it the long way :D

Good stuff, though! I'm still using store-bought acrylic gesso on cheap canvas, but I will probably start using better surfaces and prep now that I've got a few paintings under my belt (more or less). I will probably avoid lead white for the ground, because I do portraits I like a glass smooth surface to work on and yeah, I'm not going to be sanding lead, either.

 

I have a few decent brushes but finally ordered a few nice brushes from Rosemary.

 

I am very, very careful around my Lead White paint. It has some marvelous properties, but it's perfectly possible to paint just fine without it.

 

I had not mentioned brushes. Almost everything here is painted with stiff hog's bristle brushes. FIne, soft brushes like the sables and kolinskys that we use for miniatures are too fragile for thick, gooshy oil paint, on the whole.

 

I do use soft brushes for some kinds of blending. There is something called a fan brush which is used, dry, to pat very thin color mixes to blend them. It only works on quite thin paint films, though.

 

On 3/16/2018 at 11:52 AM, LittleBluberry said:

For anyone else reading this thread, CashWiley's  signature above has a link to his portrait painting thread, which is also fantastic to read if you want to understand more of how traditional art comes together.  I always love reading about art from both Pingo and Cash, tiny bits of their wisdom soak into my brain.  ^_^ 

 

Thanks again to Pingo for writing so many detailed work in progress threads!  

 

"Pingo and Cash." Gawds. :poke:

 

On 3/16/2018 at 2:09 PM, CashWiley said:

Thanks! I kinda left off updating the thread and my blog, since it mostly seemed like I was talking to myself :D

 

My late M-I-L used to talk about casting your bread upon the waters. People do see these things.

On 3/16/2018 at 2:17 AM, Glitterwolf said:

Thank you for sharing this!

And that's a very cool painting btw!

Thank you for sharing this!

And that's a very cool painting btw!

 

Thanks twice. :lol:

 

On 3/16/2018 at 7:09 AM, Kang said:

really cool stuff, thanks for sharing this.

 

Kang

 

Thank you. I enjoy my work and if something about it can help other people with theirs I'm all for it.

 

On 3/16/2018 at 11:09 AM, CashWiley said:

I wish you had posted this a couple years ago before I had to learn it the long way :D

Good stuff, though! I'm still using store-bought acrylic gesso on cheap canvas, but I will probably start using better surfaces and prep now that I've got a few paintings under my belt (more or less). I will probably avoid lead white for the ground, because I do portraits I like a glass smooth surface to work on and yeah, I'm not going to be sanding lead, either.

 

I have a few decent brushes but finally ordered a few nice brushes from Rosemary.

 

I am very, very careful around my Lead White paint. It has some marvelous properties, but it's perfectly possible to paint just fine without it.

 

I had not mentioned brushes. Almost everything here is painted with stiff hog's bristle brushes. FIne, soft brushes like the sables and kolinskys that we use for miniatures are too fragile for thick, gooshy oil paint, on the whole.

 

I do use soft brushes for some kinds of blending. There is something called a fan brush which is used, dry, to pat very thin color mixes to blend them. It only works on quite thin paint films, though.

 

On 3/16/2018 at 11:52 AM, LittleBluberry said:

For anyone else reading this thread, CashWiley's  signature above has a link to his portrait painting thread, which is also fantastic to read if you want to understand more of how traditional art comes together.  I always love reading about art from both Pingo and Cash, tiny bits of their wisdom soak into my brain.  ^_^ 

 

Thanks again to Pingo for writing so many detailed work in progress threads!  

 

"Pingo and Cash." Gawds. :poke:

 

On 3/16/2018 at 2:09 PM, CashWiley said:

Thanks! I kinda left off updating the thread and my blog, since it mostly seemed like I was talking to myself :D

 

My late M-I-L used to talk about casting your bread upon the waters. People do see these things.

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After letting the underpainting dry, I started laying in color.

 

In oil painting there has been a rule of thumb for centuries: "Fat over lean."

 

What this means is that high oil-absorbing pigments should not be laid under low oil-absorbers. It has to do with the integrity of the paint film, flexibility, cracking, and long-term survival of the painting.

 

I've seen people describe this as slow driers over quick driers, but that's not actually the case. Drying oil chemistry is complex and the ways the oils interact with pigments are even more complex, so some very slow driers, such as the Cadmiums, are very low oil absorbers.

 

(None of this relates to miniatures painting using acrylics, but I thought I'd mention it as a glimpse of part of the complexity in using different painting media.)

 

So anyway, I started to lay in the first layers of color on the painting using cadmium pigments, with their rich reds, oranges, and golden yellows, blended with Lead White.

DSC_0171.jpg.2f8b41fec3c8af7caa61b7c2fcc540ff.jpg

 

I worked out more of the winged-clawed structures using more Burnt Umber and Lead White.

DSC_0222.jpg.0ccc6684d3c1b346c10e4869ced9eecf.jpg

 

More Cadmiums.

DSC_0224.jpg.ebc8ed4f559a6a053821eaca2286ebc5.jpg

 

Ultramarine Blue is also a low oil absorber, good for early layers in a painting. I started adding some cool colors at the top.

DSC_0225.jpg.432d2fd92283eb14a98eabd50b784813.jpg

 

I began to work more on the details of the figure, continuing to use Burnt Umber and Lead White.

DSC_0226.jpg.b816083bc8353d543a50ce082ea6510f.jpg 

 

DSC_0227.jpg.dd32a4c0cf398719e1ce85f9be21779a.jpg

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Interesting angle on drying. I've been applying it to mediums but didn't think much about it with tube paint itself. the cads take forever to dry, I paint once a week in class and can usually just keep using my cads, all the earth pigments get refreshed on the palette each week.

Also, I do use a soft brush quite a bit, the bristles add too much texture for anything but rough early painting. For mid-painting, I've been trying some mixed brushes, real and synthetic, that purport to be a blend of stiff and smooth. Not good enough for smooth work, but less textured and destructive than straight bristles.

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On 16-3-2018 at 8:09 PM, CashWiley said:

Thanks! I kinda left off updating the thread and my blog, since it mostly seemed like I was talking to myself :D

 

I may not always comment, but I do look at your thread.

You're creating awesome stuff in there!

Don't stop.

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On 3/20/2018 at 10:57 AM, CashWiley said:

Interesting angle on drying. I've been applying it to mediums but didn't think much about it with tube paint itself. the cads take forever to dry, I paint once a week in class and can usually just keep using my cads, all the earth pigments get refreshed on the palette each week.

Also, I do use a soft brush quite a bit, the bristles add too much texture for anything but rough early painting. For mid-painting, I've been trying some mixed brushes, real and synthetic, that purport to be a blend of stiff and smooth. Not good enough for smooth work, but less textured and destructive than straight bristles.

 

I think it depends on how much paint one is laying down.

 

If one is using a smoothly blended, academic style with many thin layers, a softer-haired brush makes sense.

 

I was taught at a place with a vast collection of top quality French Impressionism, which tended very much towards the thick and gooshy in paint strokes. Many of my teachers seemed to be making conscious efforts to get us students to really get into the texture of the paints.

 

I never liked the really thick paint, but I did love some of the lushness of Rembrandt's thick, thick white highlights and the liveliness of many of the Impressionists' works.

 

I use hogs bristle brushes to get enough paint onto the board without collapsing the brush. I also like the presence of visible brushstrokes. Once the paint is laid down, I do sometimes use softer brushes for finer blends.

 

Hang on a moment, let me see if I have a close up of the brushwork.

 

Yeah, here's one from a later stage of the painting. It is about 3x life size, I think:

DSC_0388-detail-brushwork.jpg.5b00ae17a659c027617ec34a57030cbf.jpg

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So anyway. I still hadn't decided if I was going to make the space above and behind the figure light or dark, but I knew I wanted it to have coldish undertones. So I laid down some Ultramarine Blue, still sticking to the low-oil-absorption colors.

 

Because of that low-oil-absorption colors thing, a lot of my oil paintings' first layers (after the umber underpainting) tend towards bright blues, oranges, and yellows, like this one.

 

As a side note, I don't think I really added more yellow since the last photo. I think it's just the vagaries of lighting and cameras.

DSC_0228.jpg.a69e42b7d3f26033bc6bb3d0863f3f71.jpg

 

I no longer remember what this color was. It is likely to be a dull violet mix, probably of Ultramarine Blue plus Burnt Umber or possibly one of the Violet Iron Oxides.

DSC_0230.jpg.66e6a3cbda9fe7c326c27ef12da1796d.jpg

 

I put some floating faces in on the left. These I did thinly, using softer brushes to blend. I am pretty sure this is a mix of Burnt Umber with a little Ultramarine Blue and highlights in Lead White.

DSC_0256.jpg.4ec255a7c1a81db43e7152854a124286.jpg

 

Details of the faces and the phoenix chick:

 

DSC_0257-detail-1.jpg.04f0fbd658ea9407f7164447a586c98e.jpg   DSC_0258.jpg.aad43f3106f07e01e42a3f1b15168ac9.jpg

 

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We go a bit thicker in the highlights, a bit thinner in the shadows; tricks for using light in the room when looking at the finished painting.

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