Urban Oilfield 1932

Urban oilfield 1932-1This 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″ oil2.jpgBlocking in Objects in the far distance, I started with sky and clouds. With short strokes, I try not to blend too much. oil3.jpgI paint often with the brush held as you see it here.  oil4.jpgThis 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. oil5.jpgI 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. oil6.jpgToday 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. oil8.jpgHere 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.  oil9.jpgHere 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. oil10.jpg oil11.jpgAnd 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.  oil12.jpgHere 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. oil13.jpg A close up of the tree line and road coming around the tanks. oil14.jpgThis 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.


2 thoughts on “Urban Oilfield 1932

  1. The Texas sky occasionally gives us brilliant purple clouds and you have captured them beautifully. The sunshine comes through this painting.

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