Wednesday, 18 September 2013

A new food still life: Two Walnuts

Culinary art: a new food still life
A humble subject this week: I have started a food still life of two walnuts on a small Belle Arti wood panel (18x13cm). I’m not going to paint a ledge for them to sit on or a defined background, as I want people to focus on the beauty of the walnuts: all those creases and bumps and lumps. Strong light-dark contrasts will help focus too. I’m very much enjoying painting this very simple food still life.

Food art: Walnuts by Tanja Moderscheim

As usual, at this stage I’m mapping out values and the composition in the underpainting (see picture). I usually use a value string of yellow ochre + mars black + titanium white, but this time I wanted to try a different mix: terre verte + mars black + titanium white. I’m using oils of my favourite brand, Old Holland. This greenish colour will give a better contrast with the brown glazes which will be painted on top. The picture doesn’t show this properly, but there is a green hint to this layer.
I’m leaving this layer to dry today. Tomorrow I’ll refine the details and then it’s on to the exciting glazing stage (although doing the underpainting is pretty exciting too. To me anyway).
This panel will be framed in a simple dark wooden frame. The plan is to include it in my upcoming exhibition at French restaurant RetroBistrot in Teddington.

The finished painting:
 Two walnuts culinary painting by Tanja Moderscheim
September 2013 by Dutchoils
Categories: New paintings | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Still life painting of nectarines and walnuts, wood panel

Still life painting with nectarines and walnuts Dutchoils Moderscheim
Still life painting with nectarines and walnuts

I’ve just finished a new still life painting on wood panel (Belle Arti). I tried to inject a bit of drama with dark shadows and produce a painting reminiscent of old Dutch still life paintings. The distinctive dark wooden frame further enhances this look. My palette contained almost exclusively Old Holland oils:

cadmium yellow pale, ultramarine blue, cadmium red, alizarin crimson, permanent rose, Naples yellow light, yellow ochre, raw umber, burnt umber, Van Dyke brown, flake white.

I applied my usual technique, starting with thumbnail sketches and moving the objects around to correct the composition. This was followed by a thorough grisaille/verdacchio value study. The painting was completed by applying several layers of glazing. Nectarines show a dazzling pallette of colours in the pink/red/yellow range; I have tried to achieve this by glazing with permanent rose, alizarin crimson and thin layers of the cadmiums using liquin as a medium.

This still life painting will be shown at French restaurant RetroBistrot in Teddington.

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Thursday, 13 June 2013

DutchOils: Open Studios festival, Richmond

ARThouse Open Studios festival 2013

I ( will be taking part in this year's ARThouse Open Studios Festival in the borough of Richmond upon Thames. I'll be showing original oil paintings and drawings, art prints and cards (A5 and A6).

Link to my artist's profile 
Further ARThouse info including studio location on
ARThouse info on Richmond Arts website

ArtHouse Richmond Open Studios Festival
ARThouse is Richmond’s annual Open Studios, celebrating the vast creative talent that exists within the borough of Richmond upon Thames. Over the last two weekends in June up to 500 artists will open the doors to their homes, studios, gardens, classrooms and businesses to showcase a wide range of artwork created in the local area.
This year's Open Studios will take place 21 – 23 June and 28 – 30 June in venues across the whole borough. For more information on the artists taking part this year please visit the artist profiles or download the ARThouse festival brochure(pdf, 2713KB) for full information on participating artists, venues and the festival as a whole. Brochures are also available from Orleans House Gallery as well as libraries and other venues throughout the borough.

ARTHouse group exhibition

This year, as well as exhibiting in their own working environments, ARThouse artists are showing work as part of the ARThouse group exhibition at the Riverside Gallery, Richmond 1 June – 27 July.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Review of the Barocci exhibition at the National Gallery (London)

Barocci exhibition, London

An important exhibition of the Renaissance painter Federico Barocci (about 1533–1612) at the National Gallery in London has just ended. According to the National Gallery website, Barocci is:

…celebrated as one of the most talented artists of late 16th century Italy. Fascinated by the human form, he fused charm and compositional harmony with an unparalleled sensitivity to colour.

The exhibition will showcase Federico Barocci’s most spectacular altarpieces, including his famous ‘Entombment’ from Senigallia and ‘Last Supper’ from Urbino Cathedral, thanks to the cooperation of the Soprintendenze delle Marche.

The display assembles the majority of Barocci’s greatest altarpieces and paintings, together with sequences of dazzling preparatory drawings, allowing visitors to understand how each picture evolved and revealing the fertility of Barocci’s imagination, the diversity of his working methods and the sheer beauty and grace of his art.

The exhibition comprised religious paintings, altarpieces and portraits – paintings as well as preparatory sketches. Since the works on display have never before seen outside Italy, I felt it was a privilege to visit the exhibition at the National Gallery, which is just a 30-minute metro ride away from my house. The Barocci exhibition was, as is done for larger scale exhibitions, set up in the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery. As expected, the works were beautifully arranged.

Whilst in the media most of the attention had been drawn to the religious paintings, I found that the drawings, of which Barocci produced many, were much more interesting and beautiful than the finished works. Apparently he spent a lot of time sketching and making other preparations (he was seen around town a lot, clutching his sketch book) before moving on to painting. He actually painted his paintings relatively quickly – I guess this might have been because, whilst sketching, he had come to know his subject matter really well so could put everything on canvas quickly. Looking at the paintings, I felt that it was almost as if he wasn’t interested in producing the end product, but instead loved to sketch and experiment with the world around him. To me it was quite clear that his true passion was drawing.
Subject matter was mostly anatomical and life drawings, studies of drapery etc. I found the intimate portraits of women and children in particular very beautiful. There is an intens energy radiating from the carefully and lovingly rendered lines.

Blue faded paper
Interestingly, he had a certain formula which he followed for the majority of his sketches: most works in this Barocci exhibition were on blue (faded) paper, using red, black and white chalk. Other sketches were done in pen and brown ink or red and black chalk on white paper. The blue paper in particular produced a magnificent effect – people seemed to come alive due to the illusion of cool shadows on skin and bodies provided by the paper.

As I’m personally interested in chiaroscuro (the use of strong contrasts between light and dark) I spent a lot of time in front of Barocci’s chiaroscuro studies of the “Madonna of the holy girdle” and the “Madonna of the rosary”. These preparatory works were done using:

Chiaroscuro pigments:
“black chalk and pen, brown ink and brown wash heightened with white”
“black chalk and pen, brown ink, dark brown wash, ochre and white oil”

Use of colour
The finished paintings all used bright colour. According to the video played in the room adjacent to the exhibition, Barocci is one of the strongest colourists to have ever lived. Drapery was certainly very bright;  brightly coloured drapery was used to enhance elegance and introduce drama, while Barocci also made sure that he stayed true to human anatomy. Apparently the use of chiaroscuro in his work is a late development; Barocci’s paintings were foremost about bold colour.

I truly enjoyed the Barocci exhibition at the National Gallery. As always the exhibition was presented beautifully. While I expected to walk into rooms full of religious paintings, I was amazed and delighted to find intimate portraits, touching drawings and beautiful draughtsmanship. Very inspiring!

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Dutch Oils now listed on - your source for local products

Dutch Oils are now listed on Kimwetu!
Kimwetu Logo
Kimwetu helps you find locally made products. Now Dutch Oils' paintings and drawings can also be found here, as part of..

"a whole range of goods made close to where you live. ... Kimwetu UK has built up its directory of UK manufacturers so that you can reduce your carbon footprint by shopping locally whilst supporting local businesses.

Kimwetu is different to any other major online directory as we list producers and manufacturers in the UK, but not retailers, distributors or services, so it's easier to find a product closer to home. All of our companies make some or all of their products in the UK.

Click on a product category and a region or postcode to find what’s available close to you or use the text box to search for specific items in a region or near a postcode."

Saturday, 4 May 2013

A new Bird oil painting

It seems that oil paintings of birds sell well in the borough of Richmond Upon Thames. I recently sold a painting of a puffin and was asked to paint some more birds. So, off I go!

I have been taking photos of birds anywhere I can over the past few months. I now have a growing library of geese, chickens, sparrows, pigeons, robins, seagulls, etc. When I went through these two days ago I decided to paint a young sparrow.

A few thumbnails and then a quick sketch on the linen canvas I'm going to use gave me enough of an idea what I want this painting to be like, so I got the paints out to start work on the underpainting. This method is part of a classical way of working when painting in oils. I'm using my usual verdacchio mix of yellow ochre, mars black and titanium white (Old Holland paint). This is now left to dry. In the next few sessions I'll further refine the bird and develop the background. I may restretch the linen to a smaller set of bars as well.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Still life painting tutorial

A very simple subject this time for my new still life oil painting: here's a still life painting tutorial of a piece of bread and a small milk jug on cloth. With this still life painting I want to go back to basics and spend some decent time observing and painting light and dark. I also want to bring back some drama and contrast in my still life paintings and create something people wouldn't mind having on their wall!
Below is a still life painting tutorial and update on progress on this painting.

Setting up
The lighting is traditional, coming from the top left. This is the first time I've used my new Daylight table lamp, which of course produces daylight-like light and warm shadows. I've used a piece of cardboard to cast a dark shadow across the bread, an idea picked up from LoriMcNee's "3 Tips to Set Up & Light a Still Life Painting" youtube video. Using chiaroscuro, I can achieve high contrast and drama in my still life painting.

Sketch on linen
I'm using a 24x30cm Belle Arti linen canvas (although I may restretch it to a 20x20cm format, not sure yet). I really like the Belle Arti fine linen range, as the weave doesn't distract from the still life subject and it's a delight to paint on.

Following a few thumbnails and moving the bread, jug, lamp and piece of cardboard around to find the right composition, I sketched the setup onto the linen. I paid attention to the rules of perspective.

 Starting the painting process: tonal/value study

What followed is the most exciting stage of painting a picture, for me anyway. Taking my time, I'm now working on the underpainting, creating proper tonal ranges (value study) and mapping out the composition. Since the colour of the bread is a red, I decided to paint the value study in a verdacchio. The use of verdacchio, a greenish-grey tint, was very popular in Renaissance times and was described by Cennino Cennini, in his 'Il Libro dell' Arte' (The Craftsman's handbook). These days some of the suggested pigments (e.g., white lead) can be replaced, resulting in the following palette:
  • yellow ochre
  • mars black (a fast-drying black)
  • titanium white

To make sure this first layer is lean to prevent cracking later on, I used Zest it oil paint dilutant. I use Old Holland oil colours.

Colour layers and glazing

I spent a lot of time slowly and carefully layering colour in this step. My palette for the bread consisted of raw umber, flake white, yellow ochre, burnt sienna and phtalo blue (Old Holland oil paint). For this part of the painting, instead of blending the mixtures, I dragged, dabbed and scumbled the paint. To soften the appearance of the cloth, I added some of the colour used in the bread. The jug has a glaze of ultramarine blue.

I've put the painting in our lounge so I can find out over the next few days what I need to do to improve it. There is a danger of overworking the painting, especially the bread.

Tanja Moderscheim_Still life with bread
The still life painting tutorial continues soon!
Check for updates on this still life painting tutorial soon! (and keep and eye on!)