Making alterations to a completed oil painting by Ryn Shell
Following a rain shower, I picked a couple of lovely, just-opened Golden Bunny roses, popped them in a crystal vase and painted them into the early hours of the morning.
The following evening I decided I wanted to add an image of a small bear called Faith.
I cut a piece of cloth from an old T-shirt, and I wiped out the paint from the area where I intended to paint Faith the bear. I did not apply any thinners (turpentine) to the cloth because I prefer to work safely, so turpentine, thinners, solvents or other harmful chemicals are never used in my studio.
With the canvas wiped as clean as I could get it, using elbow grease and the texture of the wipe-out cloth, I began to paint the bear while continuing to develop the painting of the rose and background. I worked over the entire painting, not just focusing on completing any one area.
By midnight, on Sunday, I had the block-in of Faith the bear and the Golden Bunny rose completed and much of the refinement of the work finished.
The third night at this painting, I followed my ‘more look than put’ rule, and I didn't begin the painting until late in the evening, after I'd had a chance to observe it for a day and was certain of what it truly needed.
At this stage I worked with a fine signature brush, and I mixed a dark violet with dark orange and increased the shadows within the rose.
I mixed titanium white and lemon yellow and increased the highlights on the outer edges of the rose petals. I also dragged the paint on the brush over the face of the bear to give the impression of some fabric texture, an indication that this was a calico bear. This was dry brushwork. Using thick paint in a dry brush and lightly dragging it over the surface, I indicated a suggestion of a knitted top on the bear.
I could easily work on the painting for another week, adding detail, but would it be better—or just stiffer?
Ask the painting, “What more do you need?”
Don’t ask, “What more can I do?”
STOP! when the painting does not tell you it needs anything.
It is amateurs who stick birds in the sky, flowers in the grass and tears in the eye and generally overwork the painting to death without actually improving it. This happens because they don’t know when to stop. They ask the painting the wrong question and get the wrong answer.
“What more does it need?”
Know when to stop!
With nothing more to do to the artwork other than observe it for several days in the studio and to apply the ‘more look than put’ technique, I wait to see if the painting ‘talks to me.’ I put it on a bench that I will pass several times a day and wait for the painting to tell me what it needs.
I’ll wipe my brushes clean of excess paint and add them to the pile of Saturday and Sunday night's paint brushes that are soaking in a container of canola oil.
Cleaning brushes is the only use I have for canola oil. I rarely interrupt the flow of the painting before it is finished to clean oil paint brushes.
The painting does not photograph well due to the reflection of flash on wet paint. It will be a couple of weeks before I can take a print-quality photograph of the work.