Back to Painting with Oils

an oil painting of Halfway Forest in progress

I’ve done it, I’m back into oil painting!

With the fine weather of the Easter weekend, a walk around the beautiful Halfway Forest near Llandovery refilled my creative well, and instead of attempting a pastel piece or a new pen drawing, I instinctively went back to oil paint.
My previous suspicions were correct – I did need to start a new piece to get me back into the swing of working with oils. I completed a basic block-in of one of the scenes from that walk in Halfway Forest. Once I’d gotten as far as a could with that, the painting urge was still with me, so I proceeded to continue working on a painting of Pen Arthur forest that I hadn’t touched since June 2020 and made good progress. 

Work in progress oil painting of Pen Arthur forest

After working with the immediacy of ink, watercolour, and pastels for the early part of this year, the process of working with oil paint is quite a change. I like to paint oils in layers. The drying time of oil paint means I always reach a point where I have to stop and allow what I’ve already done to dry. 

In one way this is a good thing. Working on a painting for hours on end can breed an unhelpful familiarity which stops me from viewing the work objectively. Being forced to step away from the work means I come back to it with fresh eyes before continuing. 

On the other hand, it does frustrate me when I’m on a creative roll and just want to see the piece through to completion.
I have found a compromise. I mix Winsor & Newton’s Liquin in with my paint. Liquin is a smelly, semi-viscous liquid medium. It dilutes the paint and speeds drying. Used sparingly it really helps the flow of oil paints, and has the added advantage of reducing the drying time. This means I can block in a piece and have it dry enough to continue working on it within 24 hours.

It’s great to be painting in oils again. Even the smell of the oil paints is quite comforting – though I can’t say I’ve missed the stink of Liquin. Working on my smaller, unfinished paintings from last year is helping me build the confidence and momentum to tackle my larger unfinished paintings and hopefully begin to clear my ‘wall of shame’

Published by Chris

Landscape artist Chris Richards lives on the edge of the Brecon Beacons in the village of Ystradgynlais. Chris works mainly in oils, but also dabbles with acrylics, ink pens, watercolours, and soft pastels.

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