On Being Fierce

[singlepic id=120 w=460 h=240 float=] This is my latest oil painting, a small piece titled Robin's Nest. Most of my paintings are done on canvases I make myself. I prefer my own surfaces because they allow oil paint to most closely mimic the working properties of pastel. I can use a fairly dry brush with the textured canvas to get similar effects to a totally dry medium. Robin's Nest, however, was painted on a purchased canvas.

My purchased canvases have far less texture than my homemade ones. The smooth surface covers much more quickly. This is nice, but  after blocking in the initial colors, I must work into very wet paint. At first this was quite intimidating. I tried to paint in the same style that I do with pastels and my other oils, but this did not go well. Clearly, I needed a completely different approach. I had to be bold, using quick, single strokes to keep the colors clean. Not a new idea by any means, but for me, counter-intuitive. As I stood in front of an early painting contemplating this, for some reason I thought of Christian, the then-recent winner of Project Runway. And in my head I heard him saying what he said about every two minutes on the show: BE FIERCE! Weirdly, this helped. I repeated it like a mantra as I painted, and quickly finished a very different painting--one I very much liked. I enjoyed this style of working so much that I have continued to buy a few small canvases, making these quicker, looser paintings as a change of pace between larger pieces. 

What's odd about this is that I have not had a similar experience working in pastel. After my initial switch from Canson to Sennelier LaCarte sanded paper several years ago, I have been unable to produce a single work I like on any other surface. Which is fine, so long as my preferred paper continues to be produced. But I'm hoping that my oil painting hiatus will somehow give me a new flexibility in pastels. I'll find out soon. Fourteen oils to go.

See more "fierce" little paintings here:

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