Trying different media

Over the past 5 years I mainly kept with watercolours but recently introduced ink and oils. I was interested to find out their differences: strengths and weaknesses against a common subject.

Whilst walking the dog on the usual route a herd of dairy cows were in one of the far fields. It was a bright day and the cows close by so I took a photo. Having looked at the picture I felt it would make an interesting composition and a good one for trying out different media.

I start with an outline drawing, which is then checked with tracing paper to see if I’ve kept to the right shape and scale. I then add more detail by eye and start thinking about the painting process.

Ink: This is primarily tonal range and shapes. I’ve found from the tango pictures that a really effective image can be created from a tonal range of three tints plus solid black and the white of the paper. The cows markings are ideal for this medium and the picture worked out to plan.

Cows ink

Norbury Farm herd (ink)

Watercolours: This medium was going to be the hardest to work with. Not using black on the palette, not making any blending mistakes and keeping to the same mark making throughout is tricky. Keeping light in the picture is also key and I think this has been achieved.

Cows watercolour

Norbury Farm herd, (watercolour)

Oil: As this is my most recent medium I was apprehensive about the outcome. The painting was completed relatively quickly, but I am working to a small size (10×8). I’m getting used to oil being so much darker than watercolours and have to keep adding light to lift the overall feeling of the picture. Once again I’m getting glare from the camera and this has killed the right hand side of the picture.

Cows oil

Overall it was interesting to try out the three media on the single subject. I liked the subject matter and think other animals could be used in the future (horses are a good subject). This has given me more confidence with oil and also highlights how tricky watercolours are.


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