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StudioSense: One Scene, Three Versions


Recently, I reached for my oil paints to embark on an experiment with a scene I had painted in the past. Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains in early April several years ago, I came across this vista. Hikers of the region may recognize this as "Andrew's Bald" in Tennessee:


Back in 2005, I painted this scene in pastel (see below). The painting sold to a couple who visited my booth at the State Street Art Fair in Ann Arbor. Here is the original 16x20 pastel. I have several prints of this painting available, seeking a new home.


So I gathered my oils and decided to render this scene on a small 8x10 inch stretched canvas. Here is the oil painting version of Andrew's Bald:


After committing my early morning studio time to do an oil painting, I have gathered many observations comparing the two mediums. Some of these points admittedly are due to my inexperience with oils.

My observations:

  • I am spoiled by pastels when considering the challenge of mixing oil paints. My pastel collection is huge. There's a color and shade for just about every subject. With oils, (for me at least), it is a trial and error process of mixing colors.

  • That touch with the fingers with pastel feels more controllable and accurate than using a paintbrush.

  • It feels easier to convey brilliant colors with pastel than with oils (this may be a function of my lack of experience with oil paints).

  • I like the permanence of oils (no dust, glass or mat, or even framing needed).

  • I need to let the oil dry to build up further highlights or make a subtle value or color change. Not true with pastel.

  • I learned that it is possible to arrive at a nice painting with a small format (8x10; 5x7). Check out Daily Paintworks. You can find a vast collection of small paintings for sale. And they look great!

Here is the pastel version of the painting, with observations to follow. This pastel is 5x7 inches.


As I began working on the pastel version of Andrew's Bald, I discovered the need to make changes to the oil version. So I worked both paintings simultaneously. It was an educational experience.

I have boiled it down to two "issues" in my dealings with the art of oil painting. There's a "technique" I look forward to improving upon. The flow of applying the paint, using a variety of paint brush styles and tools. The other issue is creating (mixing) the proper hues and values to convey the scene at hand. I recently bought a recipe book for mixing landscape colors, which forces me to think about what colors "go together" to create a certain look and feel.

I would encourage any artist to apply different mediums to the same scene. You will begin to "see more" in these vistas as well as hone your landscape paintings skills.

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