Most iPad Painting Apps provide layers and transparency as part of the process of digital painting. It takes a little while to get your head around it but you can be sure it is much quicker than in traditional oil painting…..
Traditionally artists have used layers and transparency as they built up their artwork. But it was a question of waiting till one layer dried before putting on the next part. Chardin (right) would have achieved that deep rich glowing effect of apricots in a glass jar and a steaming cup of tea, by allowing layers to dry on the canvas. He would then load his paint with thinners perhaps and continue. Transparent layers allow one colour to glow through another changing both colours and their tones. Paint mixed on the canvas can merge one colour into another and gradations of tone (like the green wall above) are achieved by careful mixing of tones of paint.You can view this magnificent painting and details of Chardin’s brush-work here on the Google art Project.
The Artist’s Signature
You will find when you visit the Google Art Project that photographs of the paintings have been taken in High Definition (HD). This allows us to examine in extreme close-up the way artists place the paint on the canvas.
Monet’s Water Lilies (left) demonstrates layers of transparent colour, paint texture, colour gradation, colour mixing on canvas etc. Click on the title and see it for yourself!
The 1956 painting “Climbing the Lantau Peak at Night” (Hong Kong Museum of Art) is worked in a very different way and is from a very different tradition in painting. The artist’s detailed build up of brush-work and the reduced tonal range are clearly visible in close-up in these HD photographs from the Google Art Project.
Whether it is oil or water colour you can really learn from these HD photographs. How to put paint on a surface…..not just one way ….but a huge variety of ways by different artists.
Style in Painting: zooming in
A style is a personal, sometimes habitual way of working in paint. The artist has created a process memory, rather like remembering how to tie a shoelace: this memory enables the artist to use paint and tools in his or her own particular way and adapt it to different subjects. Style is not only what he or she chooses to paint, the subject matter, but also the manner in which they paint, how they apply the paint to the surface.
So you need to find a style of applying paint that suits you…..that you like, and to help in your search you can always learn from other painters! Look very closely at the paintings that you like on the Google Art Project . There are thousands of them… Use the site’s zoom capacity and be open to different possibilities….that’s the creative part!