This is a series of images that show an oil painting technique I call ochre underpainting. The client supplied a black and white image from the 1932 oilboom of East Texas. I began with a wash of Liquin and yellow ochre over a wax pencil drawing which had to be spray with a coat of retouch varnish. That spray seals the drawing in prep. for the oil based wash. (Graphite pencil could be used) Then brown oil and turpinoid for the brown lines. Oil on canvas, 42″x47″ Blocking in Objects in the far distance, I started with sky and clouds. With short strokes, I try not to blend too much. I paint often with the brush held as you see it here. This is a close up of the detail. You will notice that I am not concerned with the derricks at this point. I won’t lose them even if I glaze over them. So I try to get the sky just like I want it before moving to the far distant objects on the ground. I made good progress today on the foreground. As I roughed in the ruts with raw umber and raw sienna, it felt out of control for a while, but you just have to paint through this feeling, and resist the urge to wipe out your work. Tomorrow I will built upon and correct areas, after I take a “new look” at the work. Today I begin working on the distant background elements on the horizon. It occurred to me that I wanted more light on the surface, so I began to lay in a lighter tone of green on the horizon. The furtherest objects have more white/blue/grey- as a tint, then as you move toward the viewer, color intensity is added. This happens in nature because red tones are the shortest and reflect off. The cooler tones have a longer wave length and get through the water molecules to our retina. The trick on the straight lines of the building and derricks is using a “Mall” stick. This is a rod with a ball on the end wrapped in cloth. Propped on the top or side edge, any straight line can be drawn using the metal ferrel of the paintbrush. I am also beginning to cast shadows form the light source. Here is a close up of the derrick. I start with the mall stick and dark brown, on the back side of the derrick. Then I highlight the boards, creating the box of each section. Here you can see the structure of the backside of the derrick. I am using burnt sienna and liquin, and a little turpinoid for long smooth strokes. And there is one derrick, with highlights. It took 2/3rds of my day. Some artists have told me that I paint too tight, but since I was an aircraft illustrator for 8 years in Dallas, I guess I learned “tightness” honestly. I think people enjoy a tight and loose painting. I know I do. What I mean when I say tight and loose: Impressionistic to achieve romance and emotion, and tight to focus the viewer on the main characters. Main characters can be people, rocks, buildings, or even oil derricks. Here is the next step. Several sessions building up the landscape from the horizon to the structures. I always enjoy painting in trees in the distance. It does take a small brush. I mix turpinoid and oil for the small branches. A close up of the tree line and road coming around the tanks. This shows how the foreground is coming along. This shot is a little darker than the actual colors. Painting mud, and water reflections are fun. The water should reflect the sky above or objects near the puddles. Since the light source is on the horizon, the surface of the ground should go darker as it curves down toward the water. The reflection catches the mud edge and the sky, or object.
Published by Larry Kitchen
Larry C. Kitchen received a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree from Sam Houston State University, and a Masters of Arts degree from The University of Texas at Tyler, Texas, where he attended on scholarship and received his degree with Distinction. Mr. Kitchen worked for several years as an illustrator and graphic designer for the Dallas based LTV Corporation. His clients included the Pentagon, NASA, Wilson Foods, Brannif Airlines, Emsco, Northrop Grumman, and Broadman Holman Publishing. He was awarded Gold and Silver Addys from the American Advertising Federation's Addy Awards. Mr. Kitchen served as "Artist in Residence" for the Hilmsen Art School in Salzwedel, Germany in 2013. He worked with graduate students from Houston Baptist University studying abroad. Mr. Kitchen's work has been and is currently on display at many locations from Germany to East Texas including: Monchskiche Museum, Germany, LeTourneau University, The East Texas Oil Museum, The Kilgore College Fine Arts Center, The University of Texas at Tyler Health Science Center, Texas Bank and Trust locations, Barron's Books of Longview, Primary Care Health Center, and others. Kitchen’s paintings have been exhibited in galleries and universities throughout Texas, including the Anne Dean Turk Fine Art Gallery, The Meadows Gallery at the University of Texas Tyler, Dallas Baptist Fine Art Gallery, L&L Gallery of Longview, Texas, The Wild Bunch Gallery, Lufkin, Texas, Fine Art Gallery of the College of South Plains and "Five Texas Illustrators" show at the University of Texas A&M at Commerce, TX. He has taught and lectured at several universities and colleges in Texas, and over the past thirty years directed the Visual Arts Department at Kilgore College in Kilgore, Texas. Larry now devotes much of his time to painting historical narratives. His commissions have taken him across the State of Texas and further in search of factual information to aid his work. Over the past two decades trips to Europe, Iceland, the deserts of West Texas, and Wyoming have proved inspirational and invaluable in building his paintings. His works include the History Mural at The University of Texas Health Center in Tyler, Texas, "Downtown Gladewater, 1932" at the Gladewater Banking Center Lobby, in Gladewater, Texas, "Marshall Courthouse" at the Marshall Banking Center, in Marshall, Texas, . His work has also been featured in Tyler Today Magazine, in the article, "Larry Kitchen, Kilgore's Renaissance Man". He has also illustrated children's books entitled: Below the Huber Ice, and Good Enough available on Amazon.com. Larry resides in Kilgore, Texas with his wife, Laurie. View all posts by Larry Kitchen