Personal Art Blog

Sharing the lessons I teach at the Artist Guild and the personal discoveries in my art.

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Important Transparents - demo steps

Mixed Bouquet.
6"x 6" oil on canvas  $110.  SOLD

This was a demo to show the importance
of having a transparent underpainting.

Artist Note.

I am a big believer in leaving
some of the darker areas in
 a painting, transparent. 
There is a certain glow which 
doesn't happen with opaque
dark areas  - in fact I find
they can look, pretty "chalky."

My transparent colors 
used for the demo were:
 Transparent Oxide Yellow TYO
Alizarin (permanent)
Ultramarine Blue.

 After a wash of TOY 
I did a mass shape using  Viridian.
Next I lifted out the lighter areas
using a rag.

I followed this with more lifting
with a small amount of Gamsol
on my rag and a scrubby brush.
This was to hit my lightest areas. 

I added Viridian and Ultra 
with touch of Aliz to make darker
greens in jar and leaves.

I added more TOY to back and front.
and shadowed the area 
behind the jar
 linking into the dark leaves

Bringing in color but making
sure to keep it all transparent.

Then the fun part - I fractured it!
(See FREE tutorial on tools and what
I use for fracturing  HERE )

I enjoyed bringing it back 
into form by
 taking advantage 
of the broken areas to add 

Now into the opaque colors.
I added 
Permanent Yellow and 
Permanent Red light to my palette

I started using a knife and a brush
at this point. 
I left the flowers 
very abstract on purpose. 
That was the easiest part -
 because they were all imaginary.

There are transparent areas
peeking through the opaque 
marks, and to me it makes 
for an exciting surface.
Thick - thin,
transparent - opaque,
warm - cool.

If you are not already using the
transparent colors - or have not 
used them for a while then
please let me know if you are 
inspired to try them.

Happy Painting
Enjoy your weekend.


  1. Dear Julie just loved seeing this demo. Painting with oils appears so different from watercolors. These flowers have such depth and filled with light. So beautiful dear friend. Thank you for sharing your process. Hugs!

    1. Yes, Debbie, - oils are so different from watercolor, but this technique uses the white of the canvas for transparent glow just like watercolor does. it is neat!
      It is always a pleasure to read your comments - thank you, my friend.

  2. Julie, this is so beautiful. I enjoyed the instructional parts very much also. Enjoy your day.

    1. Happy to hear you enjoyed it - thanks Carol.
      I am looking forward to seeing your next post. Painting or Photos - I enjoy them both!

  3. Ah, my inspiration for the day! Thank you Julie, the flowers are beautiful and very interesting demo. Soon as I coordinate my FitBit I'm back painting and yes, will post soon.

    1. FitBit - eh? Good for you. We can challenge each other to a run around the block!

  4. Bonjour chère Julie,

    Tout d'abord je tiens à vous remercier pour votre très gentil message.
    Comme vous avez dû le remarquer, en ce moment je ne suis pas très régulière.
    Je n'ouvre pas assez mon ordinateur !!... Je batifole dans la nature avec Sir Icarus mon dalmatien ! La nature est si belle et généreuse en cette saison. Je m'attarde aussi à l'atelier... Mais je reviendrai peu à peu vous visiter.
    Aujourd'hui, je suis comblée. J'ai la chance de visualiser le développement de votre travail. Une fameuse démonstration !
    C'est toujours très intéressant de découvrir comment chacun ou chacune met en ordre sa technique.
    Je suis autodidacte, j'ai appris et j'apprends avec mes erreurs... et j'évolue aussi avec des conseils tels que les vôtres.
    Un grand merci pour cette généreuse publication Julie.

    Je vous envoie de gros bisous,

    1. translation:Hello dear Julie, First of all I want to thank you for your very kind message. As you may have noticed, right now I am not very regular. I do not open my computer enough !! I ... frolicking in nature with Sir Icarus my Dalmatian! Nature is so beautiful and generous in this season. I also examine the workshop ... But I'll gradually see you. Today, I am filled. I have the opportunity to visualize the development of your work. A famous demonstration! It's always very interesting to see how each and each puts in order his technique. I am self-taught, I learned and I learn with my mistakes ... and I also evolves with advice such as yours. A big thank you for this generous publication Julie. I send you big kisses,

      Thank you dear Martine, it was a pleasure to visit and see not only your fun and joyful painting, but also the enjoyable picture trip in Bruges.

  5. This really is gorgeous! You start to really look at everything close up and it's so smooth with beautiful edges. Those transparent colors with the opaques on top provide a nice blended contrast. The whole thing has some real clarity to it-not mushy strokes-but a real crispness without being crisp.

    And all for a demo! Certainly would like to see that. Lucky students!

    PS-love the cooler pink strokes at the bottom:)

    1. What a great comment - thanks so much, Libby.
      Looking forward to your next post...know it will be a good one!

  6. The painting is glorious..beautiful..Love your process

    1. and I am tickled you have taken the time to leave such a special comment. Thanks, Page. Wish you would post something soon...

  7. Julie, this is an awesome painting. I can't believe the flowers came from your imagination. Your imagination is a place where I'd like to take a vacation. Or a sabbatical. Love the step by step, too.

    1. Hi Audrey,
      The flowers were pretty abstract - only two have a definite shape. The rest are suggested with color. Easy to see in my minds eye!
      You never posted anything since your show. Are you taking a rest?

  8. Oh my gosh Julie!!! Such a wonderful demo and a favorite piece!!! (For now!!). Every one is my favorite You make it look so easy....

    1. You are ALWAYS so supportive and say the nicest things. I appreciate YOU, Hilda.

  9. I've never thought to use my transparents as underpainting. They are premium paints so I tend to use them sparingly. This is something I will have to try.

    1. Do you use them on top to glaze? I have rescued a dead spot that way. A glow is the bonus either way.
      Thank you for the great video link on your post about Gainsborough.
      I never hear his name mentioned here, but i was raised to hold his work in awe. The video was so fascinating I was almost late for work. You made my day!

  10. Fun progression and good explanation of process. I do something very similar!

    1. Good of you to validate the transparent underpainting, Bruce, because your work is simply amazing. Always a glow.
      Life and art are good in Texas - right?

  11. Wonderful process shots, Julie, and an exemplary detailing of the use of transparents. You're absolutely correct about the depth that these paints provide. It seems as if there is an inner glow to the painting similar to the depth and glow of an opal or other jewel!

    I definitely needed reminding of this "gift" that transparents offer us. It's funny how we often let a good, important method slip by us until we're kindly reminded by a knowledgeable teacher and artist.

    1. I like the comparison to the opal. Great way to put it.
      Thanks, Carol, for such a wonderful comment. You are so good with words. I think as artists we rarely stick with the exact same way to paint day after day. Experimental stuff is the joy too, but when I Iook at what I consider my better pieces, the transparencies play an important part.

  12. this is great seeing the steps in one of your paintings :)

    1. Thank you Jennifer.
      I enjoyed following your "digital" dragon and was especially awed at the completed version. Still amazed.

  13. This turned out beautifully Julie! If I was ever tempted to try oils, your post today is really inspiring.

    1. Hi Sherry - you already do the transparent areas so beautifully in your watercolor - no need for oils! I really enjoyed your post.

  14. Gorgeous demo Julie, the transparent washes work so well and I agree it gives so much more depth, light and atmosphere. Thank you for explaining it so well x

    1. Hi Jane, thanks so much - Words of praise from a teacher like yourself means so much. Your post from teaching a workshop in the Lake District was so enjoyable. I painted in the same places and even stayed at the same hotel when I was preparing for a show on Wordsworth and the places where he was inspired to write particular pieces of his poetry. My hubby held the umbrella a lot! That area has always been close to my heart and have many happy memories. Bluebell Woods included.

  15. Great demo, Julie. It definitely works for you...lovely painting!

    1. Thanks Joan. Love your sketches of the graduation. Like your jacket's color too!

  16. This was a great reminder of how those transparent areas can bring life to a painting. Thanks for sharing your process. The bouquet is lush!

    1. It is amazing the difference transparent colors can make in the background and darker areas.
      I think your rhubarb painting is outstanding. The way you painted the stems is unique and beautiful.

  17. Give it up for Julie, from whom I always learn something. Thanks so much for this!

  18. You are so encouraging. The artists who take your online course are lucky indeed as I know your attitude is uplifting and your teaching skills , are creative and knowledgeable.

  19. I am very inspired by your process Julie! It creates a beautiful effect in the painting. I can't believe this result is all from your imagination!!

    1. Thanks for the lovely comment, Celia. I think most of us use our imaginations or inner vision, from memory. I have been working in art for so many years I have lots of visual memories stored in the old noggin'.
      And that is also why I enjoyed your post on Constable. I loved seeing the house -you did a great job using only in Ultra Blue and Indigo.

  20. Everything about this painting is exciting...the color, the composition, the texture. So amazing. You said these are an imaginary bunch? Wow...and the glass they are in. Lucky person who bought it!

    Today, coincidentally I watched a couple of videos by Mark Carder on the Draw Mix Paint YouTube channel...both about color.

    1. I will have to look at the Carder color video. Thanks Lisa.
      I was editing a short video of me painting - what a joke! I am full of admiration for your skills with video making. Love both of your Finding Faith projects. Amazing how you can do everything you do. I am so proud to know you.

  21. Julie, this is a wonderful painting. Thank you so much for sharing your process. All the best to you.

    1. Thanks Joan. I enjoyed seeing your lighthouse painting and beach scene. You have the ability to make the studio painting look as if it was plein Air. Only lots of practice can make that magic happen.

  22. Thank you for the instruction, some very good tips. Your painting is glorious!


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