NMAL Oil Painting Demonstration (part 2) By Diane Buster Comments Off on NMAL Oil Painting Demonstration (part 2) By Diane Buster

NMAL Oil Painting Demonstration (part 2) By Diane Buster

Albert Handell January 2012 Oil Painting Demonstration for the New Mexico Art League

By Diane Buster

Albert Handell’s demonstration piece, an oil painting of a waterfall, was designed to show a three step painting process. The steps move from transparent to opaque, from mass to detail, from dark to light, and from thin to thick. He starts with a transparent underpainting using turpenoid as his medium to establish masses and tones. The second stage is drawing of shapes and detail. For the final stage he picks up the palette knife to trowel on thick opaque passages that resolve the painting. His ground, toned with raw umber, consists of Claussen #66 linen canvas mounted to an interior grade Masonite panel and gessoed with 3 to 4 coats of Liquitex gesso. His oil and alkyd paints include Windsor Newton, Grumbacher, and Holbein brands. In order moving around the palette he put out titanium white, viridian, ultramarine blue, cobalt blue, burnt sienna, yellow ochre light, Naples yellow, sap green, chromium oxide green, terra rosa, alizarin crimson, cadmium red light, cadmium orange, cadmium yellow, Hansa yellow, ivory black, and paynes gray. He also put out four Holbein grays: Monochrome tint cool, grey of grey, neutral grey, and violet grey. The cadmium colors were Alkyd paints because of drying time. Reference photos were both of landscape photographs and previous waterfall paintings.


Albert’s palette

Albert explained that he likes to talk while he paints but doesn’t like to answer questions. He happily addressed questions during breaks and after the demonstration. To begin he made some construction marks using an ultramarine blue and burnt sienna mixture as the mother color. He then started laying in the first transparent washes. He explained that scrubbing the thin washes into the ground adds to the transparent effect. He altered the value and temperature of the mother color mixture as he worked over the canvas. For example, some viridian was added to the mix for the foreground water area. The rock mass is painted darker and cooler at the bottom and warmer and lighter as it moves into sunlight. The wooded area is applied as a very dark wash using some terra rosa for a rich brown. (At this point raising one of his own brushes, Albert stopped a moment to tell us that if you have a favorite brush, buy three of them. One for applying dark toned colors, the second for middle toned colors, and the third for light toned colors. This will keep brushes cleaner resulting in cleaner colors.) Within each value area, Albert varied the temperature and hue for a vibrant look. (Tip: If there is no edge apparent between mixtures on the palette as you adjust the mother color, you can be confident that the values are consistent.) Albert kept all the edges soft as he completed this first stage of the painting.


construction lines                            scrubbing in masses                            stage one completed

Stage two is all about drawing. Using ultramarine blue, Albert looked at his references and starts sketching. Talking to himself he describes the drawing’s movement as he works. “This goes here, this moves like that, this moves here”…etc. For areas that need to be lighter in value, rather than add more paint he lifts paint. He paints an area with turpenoid, and then lifts details with a brush, or paper towel, or his fingers. He also draws some lines and then softens the line by pulling away from it with his brush. If a color seems too rich, rather than scrape it away, he first tones it with its complement. He makes corrections and adjustments carefully as they might lead to an exciting passage. All of this drawing begins from the center of interest and moves out. When we look at something, we can only focus on one area. This method of rendering is about how we see.

establishing the focal area and starting the knife work

Once the canvas is completely covered and the drawing is re-established the last stage begins. This is when Albert picks up the palette knife. The knife work describes texture and form and allows for application of thicker more opaque passages. Albert starts with a green mixture of viridian and Naples yellow for the foreground water. He taps the color on and smoothes it slightly with the face of the knife moving in the direction of the water’s movement. Establishing the falls, he draws with the edge of the knife and uses pure titanium white. The white is a design element amid all the midtones. Once the shapes of the falls are established he begins to work out from this focal area. He uses the edge of the knife for linear elements and the face for broader strokes. Albert likes the luminous color of the underpainting and leaves much of that showing through. His goal at this stage is to resolve the painting without losing that inner glow. Most of the work at this stage is with the knife, but occasionally he picks up his brush to feather an edge or soften a line.

working on the trees

Albert also uses his brush to lift out the tree trunks at the top of the composition. He uses a signature brush for small branches and goes back to the knife for very fine lines. Cast shadows are added to show the width and form of objects and the direction of the light. Because the painting is still wet, he can lift out shapes like the sky holes. The deep transparent red brown of the underpainting and a thick opaque mixture of alizarin crimson and white for a light pink sky color offer the complementary contrast to the yellow green leaves that he touches on with his knife. The demonstration is over at this point, though Albert may work on the painting after studying it in his studio.

finished demonstration piece

At the conclusion of the demonstration, Albert gathers us around his palette to demonstrate some mixing techniques and to answer our questions. Some pointers he
gave us follow:
• When applying a ground, the first coats of gesso appear grey. You know you have applied enough coats (usually three or four) when the final coat holds its white color when dry.
• Ultramarine blue and burnt sienna and a little white make a good mother color. If while matching values you add ultramarine blue and white to one edge and burnt sienna and white to the other you will have three piles of paint for a warm, neutral, and cool of the same hue.
• Viridian changes dramatically depending on the yellow it’s mixed with. He suggests you experiment. Also try mixtures of thalo blue and thalo green with various yellows. Albert is experimenting with chromium oxide green and liking some of the results.
• Turpenoid is a good medium for the early stages of a painting. Liquin works for later stages. Liquin also makes a good imprimatura coat to seal the painting. Damar varnish can go over the Liquin when dry as a final varnish.
• Landscapes can be very complex if you are not used to painting outdoors and are a studio painter, painting portraits or still life paintings. Consider panning in on your subject matter as if it were a portrait rather than trying to paint everything.
• If you are going to use buildings in your paintings, know perspective or just paint the front or side not the front and the side of the building; for painting both takes in perspective. If you don’t know perspective, don’t fake it! (Better yet, learn it.)


Invitation to Spring 18×24 oil Albert Handell

The Rio Grande Artists Association in conjunction with the 2012 Masterworks Art Show and Sale will host a three day oil painting workshop with Albert Handell, Saturday through Monday, April 21-23, 9:30 am – 4:30 pm. Each morning of the workshop, Albert will start with a demonstration, varying the subject matter. The first two afternoons, Albert will offer individual instruction for participants at their easels. The third afternoon, weather permitting, we will paint en plein air at Shady Lakes.

Registration information: diane_buster_1@msn.com or call Diane at (505) 281 3600.
Workshop location: Expo New Mexico Fair Grounds, Hispanic Arts Building, 300 San

Pedro NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Tuition, $350

La Puerta, Sunday Morning 18×20 oil Windswept 24×36 oil