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Submitted on
December 3, 2010
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193 (who?)
wings of hope by David-McCamant wings of hope by David-McCamant
24”x 48” | oil on canvas | available
© 2010 David McCamant. All rights reserved. No license implied or granted.

My process for painting is fairly straightforward.

I take a lot of images of the clouds around the Sierra Nevada range. These are the basis for my cloudscapes. Every painting begins with a series of pencil thumbnail sketches to decide on the composition and general value range.

Then I make a color study in oil or pastel using the chosen composition and decide on the final canvas size.

From there I start the actual painting by tinting the canvas to a neutral gray (warm or cool). By tinting the ground (canvas) you are not dealing with the bright white of the canvas. I also use a neutral gray palette of about 40%. These two things will help you see your values much easier and not fight the stark white. If you use a white canvas and a white palette your initial colors will likely be too light because the correct value will look too dark surrounded by stark white. Ever wonder why your color looks washed out after you cover the canvas; this is the reason.

Now to mix all the colors for the painting in what I call 'color runs'. This is where you start with your darkest value color such as in the shadow of the clouds. You continue mixing from that color to the next lighter one using the same brush. Most of the time I don't even wipe my brush off between colors. Once that color is mixed, I move on to the next and so on until I reach the lightest hue in the subject. These colors are actually touching in the run. I’ll end up with several runs, one for each area of the painting.

A note about how much paint to mix; think real estate. You’ll need the same area or puddle of paint on your palette as you are covering on the canvas. If you have a small palette you will need to make a large puddle then scoop it into a mound. It is always easier to paint with enough paint to work with so mix more than you need. Good painters don’t scrimp on paint!

Once I have all my color ready, I transfer my composition by eye with a very thin stain of my darkest color; very much like a sketch. I use Gamblin’s Neo Megilp medium for all my work. It gives tremendous workability to the paint.

Then I block in the large shapes painting with a big brush. Starting with my darkest darks and working quickly to the midtones I finish the block. The block is just covering the canvas with color and large rough shapes not getting into your lighter passages. I do not use any solvents to clean my brushes I only wipe them with blue shop towels between strokes or color changes. Remember you are painting not drawing. An artist brush is more like a shovel than a pencil. You pick up color make a stroke or two and you’re out of paint. So you then pick up more.

Once the block is complete I work on my center of interest or my central subject. Many times for clouds you’ll need to have the sky mostly done to get the edges right. I don’t use blending brushes or such nonsense. All of my current paintings are done with Connoisseur 2106 fliberts.

To finish, think about using a concept as your primary subject. For instance a painting might be a cloudscape but the artistic concept would be something like; a warmly lit central subject surrounded by mystery. When you have the painting where you have fulfilled the concept…you’re done!

All the Best, David
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ShowYourRealColors Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2014  New member Hobbyist General Artist
Become breathtakingly beautiful, David. You have many respectful greetings from me.
David-McCamant Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you very much, you made my week.
UomoAnalogico Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
in my life have I seen clouds so
David-McCamant Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you, I share your passion for clouds.
zusse Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2012   Traditional Artist
This is very helpful, thanks a lot!
David-McCamant Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
You are very welcome.
zusse Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013   Traditional Artist
I would like to ask you some more questions about the medium, please let me know if you mind that!

I got the neo megilp and started painting with it yesterday and I do like it but I wondered if I can use it already in the first layer when the painting is going to be build up and gets two or three layers... I read somewhere that it isn't ok to use medium in the first layer but it's a bit confusing since there are a lot of opinions about these things. And what about the 'fat over lean' principle, when someone uses only 1 medium? Would you tell me about that?
(I do not use very thick layers of paint by the way)
Thanks in advance!
David-McCamant Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Hi Jennifer, Awesome! I'm so glad you managed to get the Neo Megilp. As it's a new medium, it has a few interesting qualities. Yes, you can and I do use it in my first layer. The fat over lean rule is primarily the use of linseed or walnut oil as medium. By adding more of the oil to your preceding layers you make the last layers dry slower than the first. This reduces the likelihood of cracking while drying. Part of the reason this is so important is that each layer takes a lot of time to dry so a painting may take months to complete. With the Neo Megilp, you still follow the rule in general but with a few enhancements. I use a 'stain' of a mixed dark brown to 'tint the ground' wiping most of it off before I start the painting. This kills the white of the canvas to a dull warm grey. A stained color is mostly medium with enough pigment to still cover. I then use the same stain for the initial sketch. I then mix my darkest dark and ly it in with enough medium to have it release well (about like butter that is still solid but not hard). I work thin to thick with my paint from dark to light. So my heaviest most impasto layers are last and in the lightest passages. The darks should be thin as you don't usually see much detail there. If however you do like to use heavy impasto on the whole painting, you would want to work in a more 'Ala Prima' or 'in one sitting' fashion. I would likely paint as soon as I could on such a painting so I could keep all the work within the same week if possible.

When I paint, my first block is thin enough to dry overnight or be barely tacky. I can then get right to painting the second day. I then find the about two days later the second day's session is dry and ready for the third. If I need a forth it takes another day or so. As you work, you'll find that the medium begins to dry in about an hour and get a bit tacky. If you use a little more than the layer underneath, you can paint right over the early passage without disturbing it. You can revitalize an area that has become too sticky by brushing on a light layer of the medium a few minutes before you want to paint in it. I've done this up to about eight hours after the first paint was laid in. This drying creates a pace for the work to be done. The earlier work is a foundation for the later work. It dries about the time you are ready to sharpen it up. Remember, use light pressure with your brushwork.

I hope this helps,

zusse Featured By Owner May 10, 2014   Traditional Artist
Hello David, May I bother you again for just one question about the neo megilp?
I have been using it for some time now but in the painting I am working on at the moment, I have used it for glazing and this works very well expect now the glazed areas are (already dry) very shiny in contrast to the rest of the painting; how can I solve this? Should I lay a thin layer of just the megilp over the entire painting, or should it be better to use something as retouching varnish to get a nice and even glossy surface?
 Thanks a lot in advance!!
 Best regards Jennifer
David-McCamant Featured By Owner May 10, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
Hi Jennifer, I hope you are having fun with your paintings! What you are doing is 'reunifying' the surface. By adding a thin layer of 'varnish' or a medium over the entire painting, you make all the color look as it did wet. This makes it possible to match color precisely. You can paint right on top of the medium with new color. After it dries, you'll think you have missed the color because it will be lighter than what you where matching. It will be just fine when you add the new top coat of medium over it. I usually do several layers like this as part of my process.

You can of course use a thin layer of Neo Megilp as you have described. You can also use Gamblin's Galkyd medium cut with about 40% odorless mineral spirits. This is what I do. Which ever you use, do it in the shade out of direct sunlight. The sunlight will cure it very fast and if you have bubbles they will not pop before they set; in the shade they will.

This is not actually a finish varnish, it's a paint layer. The painting will look varnished and indeed be protected. If you wish it to have a finish varnish you'll need to let it dry for up to a year depending on how thick your paint film is. A thin painting with less than 1/8" thick paint will be ready to varnish in a month or so especially if placed in direct sunlight for a day or so. This is of course after the Galkyd or Neo Megilp has tacked up or dried over night.

Warmest Regards,

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