A few months ago you might have seen the video of me unpacking a large new canvas from Winsen's Canvases. This was for a new painting demonstration that you can find in the December edition of the South African Artists Magazine. There was another big surprise reveal thanks to Winsen's Canvases too.
You can find out more about the painting in the new video below.
Large Painting Marathon
There is not doubt that a very large painting can make a big statement. But for the artist it can present a host of challenges that make it a giant headache. Suddenly a few shapes that suggested so much in a smaller canvas lose all impact. There is so much more space in which to communicate. You message can get lost in it all. How do you solve this problem?
The artist who fails to plan, plans to fail - or something like that. Certainly you do not want to be knee deep in a large work only to discover that your composition is poor. Especially with a few tubes of paint sacrificed to the cause. It is demoralising. Your sketches, drawings, notes and colour studies go a long way to making sure your concept has the legs to go the distance.
Develop a Plan with the the following steps:
Even with a plan in place you can get lost if you paint the same as for a small painting. By this I mean small brushes and small shapes from the start. If your usual brush for a smaller work is a size 6 then you would be better off starting with a size 12 or 14. Perhaps a house painter's brush for a big block in? This sets the tone and gives you momentum. Unless this is your usual practice you may still start too small. I confess doing this myself in this painting. Things worked much better when I called in the larger brush for the foreground area.
I do not use glazing often, but there are times when glazing parts of your painting work wonders. Especially in a sunset painting like this one. The deep warm tones are easily established with a glaze over the dry painting.
I could use glazing more often actually. Even if it is only one area of the painting. For example a thin glaze of alizarin over distant blue mountains can give them a purplish (is that a word?) warmth that you cannot get in a normal mix.
But my typical use for glazing is to create a warm glow. Warm transparent colours like Indian yellow, alizarin, yellow ochre and orange feature a lot in my glazing.
A few glazing pointers:
Another tip with large paintings is to step back a few metres and look at the painting as a whole. With your nose close to the canvas you will miss many things. Avoid losing the overall effect by having a good look at a distance. Especially the next day when your mind has cleared. You will spot the problems and be fresh enough to fix them. Once determined you must press on without any doubts. Confidence is critical.
When the painting is done and dried I apply a thin coat of retouch varnish to bring out the colours. Especially the darks. This also protects the painted surface. Then it is time to consider a frame. Many options are available and nor every painting must be framed. But most of us still prefer a frame and choice is important. A frame makes a big difference. Get it wrong and you are not helping your painting. Get it right and your painting turns into an occasion.
This is why I am especially excited about the gilded frames produced by Winsen's Canvasses. As you can see from the frame in the video it does make a bold statement. Although it is a big frame the wood used is very light. So no worries about hanging the painting. Winsens Canvasses help you to find the perfect look for your painting and then make the frame for you. Check their custom gilded frames here.
Have a go with a large painting, but work on the planning stage as suggested. Also experiment with glazing for a different effect. You may be pleasantly surprised with the results.
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Malcolm Dewey: Artist. Country: South Africa