“The Pond” 4×4″ oil on panel

Hi everyone, below is a finished painting of a Koi:

img_4153 This was done alla prima (in one sitting, wet in wet). I’m pretty happy with this piece because it came out pretty close to what I envisioned in my mind.

As you know, I’m still feeling my way around oils and trying to render realistic forms. This practice in itself is good to hone skills, but I tend to get caught up in details and sometimes, it seems like work just copying what’s there. The other thing about a realistic focus is, the work can end up looking stiff. So I aimed to loosen up my painting.

Loosening up is kind of tricky; if you are using a reference, there’s a tendency to paint what you see on that reference. And if you are using a real photo, it’s natural that you would end up with a near copy of that photo. So you have to make a conscious decision to render things to a degree of abstraction and looseness. I tried to stay loose by mostly using bigger brushes but I still resorted to fine brushes for details.

I was interested in the look of painting simple subject matter and using the chiaroscuro style. And instead of carefully modeled forms in some of the Old Masters like Caravaggio, I wanted to incorporate a looser style. You can see the looser form here:
img_4154 The tail of the fish is very loose and is abstracted into obscurity. I like this effect quite a bit. I also like the contrast of the dark water and the saturated and brilliant colours of the fish.

Here’s look from another angle:img_4155 You can also see the loose brush strokes on the back of the fish. I liked these brush strokes, the colour mixing is done optically, a phenomenon that the Impressionists employed. I enjoyed this aspect of painting loosely and I like the shorter time it takes to complete a painting. This piece took 2.5 hours, half the time of the other paintings. Bear in mind, my being new to this medium and I’m probably slow.

I found it challenging to paint loosely and equally challenging painting wet into wet with oils. It’s difficult trying to paint a colour atop another colour without lifting it up. This was especially hard with painting the highlights in the water. As with all challenges, it’s very rewarding when you overcome them. I am making progress in oils and I guess I will experiment more. This is my way of figuring things out.

Now, I am wondering if it might be easier to paint looser if I paint larger..

Wishing you a lovely weekend.

6 thoughts on ““The Pond” 4×4″ oil on panel

  1. This is a gorgeous work because I did not realize what it was until I looked longer. You have been really successful here! Another method in oils which helped solve the “fat over lean” dilemma for me was to work Sfumato. It is an Italian word meaning “to smoke” and is done by placing thin layers of oil paint (using thinner, solvent or in my case linseed) and allowing them to dry for a couple of days between coats. The result is a beautiful shimmering luminous effect. The “Mona Lisa” was done this way. You can still work loose, it does take time though 🙂

    1. Thank you for your kind words and suggestions. I did think about using the sfumato technique but I was weary of drying time between layers. I might still do this when I get a sense of routine that works for me.

  2. How true about using photos for references. Yes, for sure there’s a tendency to copy what’s there and more than likely would turn out to be a copy of the photo. You had discovered a way to work around that especially for someone who is still fairly new to oils. Keep up the good work!

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