Translucent Oil ~ Influences of Watercolor

Tuscan monestary

Translucent Oil

I remember Rodger Bechtold talking about the influence of his early watercolors on his oils. I’d never thought about painting translucently in any medium. Rodger said he liked the resonance of a particular Ultramarine sky in one of his paintings. I liked it too.

Rodger’s gallery talk at Glave Kocen Gallery in Richmond this spring opened my mind.  I have followed his work for many years. Rodger’s paintings have always felt to me like I was seeing myself in the mirror. The opportunity to hear him speak, a magnet to my heart.

Not caught in the details, Bechtold’s paintings speak with clear earthy simplicity. Something I’ve always tasted before I pick up the paint brush.

translucent oil
Sambuca, oil, 11 x 14

Watercolors I began in France two years ago opened a doorway. Light, white paper, white space between colors. Why not white gessoed textured panel peeking through translucent oil paint?

This painting answered my query. Visiting the monastery in Sambuca, I came home with an inspiration to paint the scroll detail, back lit with warm light ~ contrasted by cool light from the open doorway.

Using Venetian Red (which I had just reintroduced into my palette), Ultramarine Blue and Indian Yellow, I limited my palette to just three colors. Cool light from the doorway punctuated by Jim’ figure sitting in darkness of the pew.

I thinned the Venetian Red, a very opaque pigment, with a lot of medium. Without white paint, which would turn the pigment pink, it stayed earthy. It caught in the ridges of heavy-body white gesso I had used to prep the panel, leaving wonderful light and dark patterns in the paint.

Like watercolor, I made it a point to get in and get out without working it to death. A few willow charcoal details, throwbacks to my pastel calligraphy, my connection with earth pigments.

The pediment on the chapel, by the way, read MDII, 1502.

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Author: Dorothy Fagan

Experimenter, gardener, grandmother ... Dorothy Fagan plays with creativity, dreams, and paint every day.