Chewing my keyboard

Sunday, April 03, 2005

In a mood...

Well, I'm trying to capture a sense of mood anyway...

I went leafletting yesterday in Bristol West with Alex from BULD. It took me about an hour to walk to the HQ, I did a few hours leafletting and then went home via the supermarket to do my grocery shop. Since I was leafletting way out beyond the Downs, I had to walk back home via the top of Whiteladies Road which was a financial disaster since it meant passing Hockney's art shop. I wandered in on passing and saw some oil bars (which I've read about but never seen). They are quite expensive (about £2.30-£3.99 each) and thus I purchased only two - an ivory black and an antique white out of idle curiousity.

Oilbars are a trademark of Winsor and Newton (although you can buy oil sticks from other manufacturers). Info is here under 'oil colour'. They are oil paint in a chunky stick form (bonded with wax). I bought 'slim' bars which are about a centimetre and a half across (the 'original' size are the size of a prittstick)! They behave rather like a combination between pritt stick and a wax crayon and thus subtly and detail are not really the essence of the technique unless you're using a large canvas.

I 'trialled' the oil bars on my minute canvas paper (25 cm x 17 cm) before Dr Who along with a set of 12 garishly-coloured oil pastels I randomly bought about 2 years ago during a camping holiday in Chamonix (and had no success with). I tried 'smoothing' the oil pastels by dipping them into liquin (which turned them into a gooey, sticky mess) and then tried to blend everything using 'Zest-it'. The experiment was good fun. Merryn and Adam came around just after I finished and informed me that the result was 'modern' which was enough of an excuse to throw it out as any I've ever heard!

Not deterred from playing with the oil bars, I tried again this morning after breakfast (I ended up putting a dirty jar of Zest-it into my washing up bowl with my breakfast pots which was a really great start :/). I decided that since I had very small canvas paper, very thick oil bars and could only work in greyscale, I decided to take a blocky tonal approach, use big dots of black and small dots of white for dark areas, vice-versa for light areas and then smooth the whole thing using copious 'Zest-it' and brushes. I tried copying a picture of Bristol Harbourside I'd taken and this is the result. Looks ok (according to my mum, I'm not convinced) from a distance - looks dreadful close up (just a load of damp splodges).

I may try adding a bit of highlighting and lost detail (some boats near the Lloyds building) using black and white oil pastel when it's dried (in a week or so).


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