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Ardent Shadows

Gothic Fantasy paintings by Jemima Mantle

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painting technique

Wanderer No.2

This week’s painting was based more closely upon a real Bob Ross tutorial and I thought I’d choose a fairly simple one to get a handle on the basics. Also, mainly due to impatience I decided to work on a white background. This is the first thing which I have definitely learned this week. I like working over a black base. It keeps these landscapes more closely related to my own aesthetic and I feel that it just creates a deeper atmosphere. There’s more magic to be found in the twilight.

The biggest problem I came across this week is actually the same issue I had in my first painting. When I got to adding bushes and details in the foreground, the paint wouldn’t stick, or maybe the base layers were eating up the tonal variations. Again, I also struggled to create all the different shapes and patterns so important for creating a believable world of natural flora. The remedy for this was only realised after I thought I had finished.

I went back into the painting after it had been left drying for a few hours. I can’t be sure that this is the reason why I was more successful on my second visit but I think it played a part. The other reason I went back into it was that I felt it had turned out to be a very boring landscape. I felt much happier after adding in some large trees in the foreground. This also provided me with an opportunity to play with the palette knife more. This is something else I highlighted in the first painting as an area of weakness which needed attention.

All in all I am pleased with this second entry into my oil painting diary. You can’t love every result when you’re learning new skills, but you always learn a lot. Next week it will be back to black.

Wanderer No.2 on YouTube

Wanderer: An Evaluation

So I’m excited to have another try with my oil paints and this week I’m  planning to choose an episode of ‘The Joy of Painting’ to give me more guidance in some of the weaker areas of my first attempt. However, before I can start aiming for improvement I need to first identify where my technique is weakest.


Firstly I have to say that painting in this wet-on-wet technique is considerably harder than I thought it would be. It’s also harder than expected to imagine a whole world of landscape. I usually work in the realm of imagination so I didn’t feel too daunted by this but facing a blank canvas with no real plan was definitely a challenge when exploring landscape. It did bring its own aspects of fun however as I had no idea I was going to put a stream in the painting until I got near the bottom of the canvas and inspiration hit. I think where I need more of a plan is in the mid ground. Background and foreground feel the most simple to develop a basic plan.

Regarding the individual tools and techniques in Bob Ross’ style, I have to say I struggled most with use of the palette knife. This is the tool which is most foreign to me and I have absolutely no experience with using one. My work usually has a very smooth finish with virtually no discernible texture. The idea of allowing the paint to go on thickly and unevenly still feels quite uncomfortable.

The other struggle I had was toward the end of the painting where I wanted to add more definition in little bushes and plants in the foreground. I found it very difficult to get the variety of shapes and colours that Bob Ross creates. On reflection I think perhaps I should have thinned the paint slightly to make it stick to the thick paint already applied in these areas. I felt that by the end of the painting I had lost a lot of the tonal contrast and the foreground was not cooperating. In the end I put this down to experience but couldn’t resist adding the little white wisps before calling it finished. I just wanted to put a little bit of more of myself into this; after all my aim here is to learn the technique, not to start copying Bob Ross paintings.

The last of the problems I encountered did not become truly apparent until the day after. I had applied the liquid clear undercoat much too thickly. I have a few areas where the paint had run a little after I’d finished to working on the canvas. Upon reflection I can see now where it hampered me during the painting. I had originally wanted to create a sky that was slightly less blended and still had shapes and suggestions of clouds. The canvas was too slick for the technique I was trying and so I blended the sky more to compensate. Next time I try this technique for the sky I will also put less white on my brush as I think this will also help to restrict how much the shapes blend together.


All in all I feel very encouraged by this first attempt and can’t wait to have another try. I will be trying to follow an actual Bob Ross tutorial (more or less) and will also be trying to push myself to explore the palette knife and that’s where I’m most uncomfortable.

Don’t forget to follow my blog or YouTube channel to see how I get on with this oil painting adventure.

 

3 days until Halloween

3days

One detail I was never in doubt about including in this year’s painting is the stylised pumpkin flowers and stripey vines. I absolutely love them! As always it’s a featured that’s painted in steps. This photo shows me mapping out these elements and placing the vines along the figure. You can also catch a little peek of how the face is coming along.

4 Days To Go

4daysZombie texture added I can now start going back into the figure and tightening up the shading and details like the fingers. You can also see where I’m starting to develop the pumpkin and build up more of an idea of how all these different elements are going to work together!

5 Days Left…

5daysAnyone who remembers last year’s piece, or has watched the Halloween YouTube video I released at the start of the month, will know that giving the figure a textured zombie appearance is a big part of creating this character. It is however, an effect that is built up over stages. Today’s photo shows the first step towards the zombie skin is painting the base colours and loose shading.

6 Days Until Halloween

6daysI think you can start to see how it relates to last year’s Halloween painting. The colour scheme is much the same and I’m planning on having the character herself looking like the same person. At this point I hadn’t decided whether all elements would be the same, like the spider web in the hair, but certainly I intend to add some flowers much like last year’s. As you’ll see from the progress photos this week, there’s a lot to work on before I get to these fine details.

Count down to Halloween with me!

I couldn’t resist the urge to create an all new Halloween Special again this year – and I think it’s going to be even better than last years!

Here’s the first installment to whet your appetite. You can just about see the pencil lines from dividing the canvas. My initial design was about A4 size so I drew a grid on top of that which matched the dimensions of the canvas. I could then freely paint the design onto the canvas ensuring that each part of figure filled the correct part on the grid. It’s an excellent method for ensuring your drawing enlarges correctly without distortion.

Can you tell what it is yet?

1week

You can catch up with all of last year’s fun by checking out last years countdown blog posts and watching the ‘in progress’ video on YouTube. Simply search ‘Ardent Shadows’ to find my channel.

Follow me to join the countdown!

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