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 Summer Cornfields (Oil)


I was recently in the Republic of Ireland, in a place called Kilkea Lodge about 25 miles south of Dublin. Itís the most gorgeous area. When you get into areas like this you can see why they say there are so many greens in Ireland. Funnily enough, the lady that runs the courses is Marion Green. Her and her husband (Godfrey) run art courses as well as horsey type courses. Itís a huge old farmhouse in amongst beautiful farmland and I must say I just love Ireland. I am going back to west Cork in September and I am doing three or four courses over there next year, but back to the one in hand. I had a lovely group of 12 people doing oils. This particular day was unfortunately not the most beautiful weather, so we were in one of the outbuildings.

Below is my stage-by-stage. I never use charcoal or under staining or under painting on my canvasses, just simply an outline drawing with a normal pencil. Donít use too heavy a weight of pencil as these will smudge and go mucky when you put on the paint.  

Essential Supplies

The items you will need to complete this scene are as follows:-

Oil Paint

Cobalt blue
Titanium white
Payne's grey
Naple's yellow
Permanent magenta
Hooker's green
Burnt sienna
Raw sienna
Raw umber

No.18 wash brush
No.10 filbert
No.12 filbert

Oil Painting Medium




Off we go straight into the sky and it looks a right mess to start with.  Using a big No.18 wash brush I daubed on first of all titanium white in about the bottom two-thirds of the sky area, then cobalt blue mixed with titanium white in the top third and coming down into the white slightly.  After a good slosh out of my brush, I then put a few touches of Naple's yellow into the top of the white areas and then permanent magenta mixed with Payne's grey into the bottom areas of the white. It looks a right mess.

Now it's time for the magic, put away your brushes and with an old bar towel or tea towel, drag in your blue from the top ragging the colours together. Then roll the white upwards into the blue areas to create a nice soft cloud. For the purple colour in the base, simply dab this upwards into the white areas creating a nice warm cloud shadow.

Stage 2 is into the distance areas, with a mixture of cobalt blue permanent magenta and a tiny touch of titanium white. Using my No.10 filbert, block in the distance, using the same brush and using a little bit of Naple's yellow here and there, then change to my No.4 round brush and do a few lumps and bumps and lines coming down to give the effect of distant trees and field lines. Not so difficult so far, is it?

I must tell you at this point that there can be lots of confusion about what to put into your oil paints. There are lots of various oils and substances to get the paint onto the canvas and of course you could use the paint neat straight onto the canvas, but it would take about 6 years to dry. I use low odour thinners so there is absolutely no smell, therefore no headaches. I also use oil painting medium which is a golden thick gloopy liquid, this has got oils mixed together making it a lot easier as you only have two pots on the go. The painting medium also gives it a little bit of glaze and this combined with the thinners also helps it dry a little bit quicker, so a quick dip of my brush into each as I mix my colours.




Now it's time for those big chunky trees in the middle distance. I have a mixture of Hooker's green, burnt sienna and cobalt blue. With the side of my No.12 filbert simply daub and tap this on and because I am using the side of the brush, rather than the sharp edge, it gives a nice fuzzy tree effect on the top of the trees. Next is a mixture of cobalt blue and Payne's grey thatís going into the bottom of this clump of trees, keeping it nice and dark. Finally, a good slosh out of the brush add some very strong Naple's yellow here and there from the top coming downwards.

You will see that I wear rubber gloves when I'm painting, thatís because Iím always getting into my paintings with my hands. Oils are a lot more difficult to get from under your finger nails than watercolours. It was said, that Turner had the dirtiest hands in history, thatís because he was always in his paintings as well, but of course in those days they didnít have marigolds. Add some of that Naple's yellow, get your finger in and squash some of those lumps, moving the yellow around here and there. This gives you instant light on the clump of trees, and now with my finger nail, inside the glove of course, scratch out a few tree trunks here and there.

Using my No.10 filbert have a broad band of Naple's yellow coming underneath those trees, and then as it goes past the end of the trees, add a tiny touch of raw sienna to my Naple's yellow to make this a slightly richer colour and take it all the way underneath the middle distance bushy bits to the right, which incidentally were done with a mix of Hooker's green and raw sienna.




For the big trees in the foreground I started off doing the tree trunks using my No.4 round brush firstly with Naple's yellow to the left, then raw umber in the middle section and then  a mixture of Payne's grey and raw umber, to the right. I have got all of the colours in there but it looks flat so get the fingers in there again and daub on with my finger merging the colours together slightly. This gives a rounded effect to the tree trunks. That last mix of Payne's grey and raw umber is now used along with my rigger brush to create a few boughs in the top part of the tree, this gives me the option of leaving a few gaps in the foliage but still seeing some trees though those gaps.

For the foliage I applied this with my No.10 filbert using a mixture of Hooker's green and raw sienna and daubing on with the side of my brush as in much the same way as the big stuff in the middle distance. Again on the right-hand side of the trees a mixture of Payne's grey and cobalt blue, donít go mad with this colour. Then up the left-hand side and into the main parts of the foliage itself, good and strong, Naple's yellow. Notice the tree behind has been made slightly weaker but not as much detail. The next stage is the rough stuff underneath the trees, again with my No.10 filbert a little bit of Naple's yellow and raw sienna mixed and quickly whap this on with a few flicks at the top to give the indication of rough grass and also give it a hint of green by adding a little bit of Hooker's green into my raw sienna. Tap on with your finger now and merge it in a little bit.





The big bit in the foreground is a big scary area. Using my No.12 filbert and a mixture of raw sienna and raw umber, simply fill it in with big broad brush strokes. It doesnít matter in which direction the brush goes. Brush strokes showing donít count when you are going to rag it all together with a cloth. This makes it all lie flat horizontally.  Now Iíve got a big area filled in there, that has no recession. Thatís created again with my No.10 filbert and raw umber and drag a few lines out but notice they get narrower as they go further into the distance heading towards the centre of the picture.

Final stage is the scary shadow. I have got a mixture of Payne's grey, cobalt blue and permanent magenta, this is strong at the base of the trees and dragged out horizontally into the fields. A little bit of this into the rough grass in the base of the trees, then with my finger stroke this into the field as well. Hey Presto BIG PICTURE.

At this stage I would like to thank Sue Varian for being on location with me and taking all of the photographs.