Dunes Sunset at Breezy Point - Oil Painting


Continuing on my beach theme from summer vacation at Breezy Point, New York, below is my first oil painting done since my last tampering in oils about 20 years ago. I basically put my pastels away for a couple of weeks to explore painting with oils


After working in pastels over the past ten years, I have several observations to share with my pastel-oriented customers and students regarding the art of oil painting:

While I thought that mixing colors would be a chore and a drag (since my vast collection of pastels offers a complete breadth of colors and values) it was actually a lot of fun! Through the mistakes I made in color-mixing, I occasionally created a color I had never seen before! I would try to use that concocted color in my painting; unfortunately, it often would not work.

Some oil hues are quite strong! The phthalo types (greens, blues) as well Cadmium Red are so intense that very little of that paint is needed on the palette. They simply dominate any color-mixing activity! The phthalo green in particular caused much heartache as I attempted to mix greens accurate for my painting.

Oils take time to dry! I know that states the obvious, but pastel painters have the luxury of applying layers of pastel on top of pastel with immediacy, rather than waiting a day or two for the paint to set.

Speaking of layering, it does not work as well with oil. In most cases, the new color will block out the initial layer. I did succeed in creating softening impacts with more muted color on top of existing paint, especially when the muted color was thinned-out and applied lightly.

Considering drying time, the elapsed time to complete an oil painting will be longer than a similar painting done in pastel. With my trial-and-error approach given my first oil painting in 20 years, "Dunes Sunset at Breezy Point" kept me from my pastels for two weeks (probably about 20 hours of labor to complete the painting you see here). The painting is 18x24 inches in size.

I tried a new kind of oil paint: one that is soluble in water. The set I purchased had the popular colors. I did find that I desired to go back to my traditional (mineral spirits-soluble) oils as my old set had a variety of colors that I found quite useful. I feel that I can stick with the water-based paints (easier to clean and no odor) as long as I supplement my water-based collection with a few more colors.

The other stark difference versus pastel painting is the "painting" aspect with brushes, compared to the "drawing" activity comprised of holding the pastel in one's hand. There are many different brush sizes and shapes to choose from! I favored the filbert, I must admit. Of my 15 brushes, I tended to favor just a couple.

Pastels have helped me to quickly convey the appropriate atmospheric effects, values and subtle colors of the landscape. I can see how oil paints can do the same; it takes a bit more effort on my part to achieve a similar impact, but it is quite possible. The nice thing about oils is the opportunity to expand my surface size (maybe someday I will do the 14x8 foot size of the famous Hudson River School of painters or the artists of the Western landscaoe), and the opportunity to frame a painting without glass.

Long-term, I will predominantly continue with pastels and supplement my art with oils. Perhaps we can also add acrylics to the list!

Links to my online stores and the Michigan Art Center:

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