A Second Smattering on Painting Technique

The Young Playwright waiting for the actor at Epoch

The Young Playwright waiting for the actor at Epoch

The Beginning

I was painting at Halcyon Coffee here in Austin on Monday.  The barristra was very interested, and asked me if I did an underpainting.  This made me stop and think about the actual process of the oil sketch.  I said, “well, no, not really”. I fumbled around for an explanation since I am not used to analyzing my process.  Then, the words came.  “I have to work very quickly because I don’t know how long people will stay.  I usually mass in the figure(s) quickly and build around them since I know that the interior and the furniture aren’t going to move.”

Here you have a fundamental difference between the approach on the canvas when doing the oil sketch and an oil painting.  If I were doing an oil painting, I would “block in” the subject(s). This means that I would put crude markers to designate the space they occupy. Then, I would “mass-in”. This means that I would commit the objects to a division between light and dark.  From this, I would go from the “Whole” – seeing the entire painting field, to “Parts of the Whole” -seeing individual objects.

When I do the oil sketch, I am basically jumping to the “Parts of the Whole” procedure.

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Please leave a comment or a crumb if you would like to see more posts on technique.~Lavanna Martin


  1. Posted April 5, 2009 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Lavanna, I’m really intrigued with this art-education you’re providing – and definitely will appreciate more of any type of commentary you want to add.

    The work itself is wonderful to my view and experience. The remarks accompanying is opening my own awareness at whole new levels.

    • Posted April 5, 2009 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

      Hi, there, Sherry.

      Well, thanks for that encouragement. I’m thinking about talking about how to build up transparency in oils WITHOUT the use of mediums,oils, or solvents. I think that is interesting, and I think others will, also.

      Thank you,


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  1. By My Latest Post « I Stare At People on October 23, 2008 at 7:34 pm

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