Colin Willey paints the landscape from life. He likes painting en plein air because the excitement and urgency to get things down quickly shows in the painting and it can be hard to replicate that energy in the studio. Colin paints quite thickly and chooses to use Jackson’s Artist Oil Colours because he gets rich vibrant colour at an affordable price so he doesn’t need to skimp. In this article he takes us on a plein air painting trip, shows us the colours he uses and talks us through his process.
Plein Air Landscape Painting
Painting outside in the landscape has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. I am now lucky enough to earn my living from painting and still get a great thrill from painting outside in all weathers. I have learned that selecting the right equipment to take with me is essential to a successful painting trip and my materials list has evolved over time to meet my needs. I have been using Jackson’s Artist Oil Colours for several years now and find them to be of a consistently high quality at an affordable price. I would like to share with you my experiences of using them to paint a seascape at Studland.
For this painting I used my usual palette of 8 colours: Titanium white, Cadmium Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red, Light Red, Cerulean Blue Hue, Cobalt Blue Hue and Ultramarine Blue.
I packed 225ml tubes as I use the paint quite liberally and find the bigger tubes much more economical. Taking the large tubes does add significant weight to the outdoor painting kit so you may want to consider the smaller 60ml tubes, perhaps with a 225ml white, to keep the weight down.
On this occasion I had a smaller tube of Jackson’s Cobalt Blue Hue to try. I have been using the Daler Rowney version that I have become attached to but was keen to give the Jackson’s version a try. Colours can vary quite significantly between different brands so it can be worth trying a few small tubes for comparison. The genuine colours for these two blues is not available in the Jackson’s Artists range but you can get them in the Jackson’s Professional range. I have found the Hue versions suitable for my needs. The genuine colours of these blues are very expensive and I feel that would inhibit my painting process as I would use the paint too carefully.
I also took a selection of Jackson’s Black Hog brushes, which I find very durable and keep their shape very well.
Once on location I laid out my colours around the edge of the palette. I was pleased to find all tube caps unscrewed easily. The oil colour came out easily in a buttery consistency, which I found easy to work with. The Cadmium Yellow had a small amount of oil that had separated at the top of the tube but underneath the paint was fine. The paint is certainly not too stiff, if anything more on the loose side but it does have enough body to allow the brushmarks to remain visible, which I like. At the beginning of the painting process I thinned the paints with a mixture of turpentine and linseed oil but later on I used the paint much more thickly and found the paint brushed on easily, even when no medium was added. I use the paint quite a lot in this way so having it brushable straight from the tube is great for me.
For this painting I used a Jackson’s Premium Cotton Canvas 35x45cm, which I had covered in a warm tone previously (made by mixing Black and Cadmium Red acrylic with White acrylic primer). Usually I work on prepared boards for outside work and straight away I noticed how the sunlight shone through the back of the canvas which was a little distracting. This effect did soon stop when the canvas had the first layer of oil paint covering it.
I drew out the main shapes of the scene with a dark colour mixed from the Ultramarine blue and Light Red.
I then quickly blocked in the main colours with larger brushes. Being used to a smoother board I did quite enjoy working with the texture of the canvas. It took the paint well and was not too rough. The tooth of the canvas gripped these early layers of paint, making it easy to add thicker paint over the top.
I used Cobalt Blue and White in the upper part of the sky and added some Yellow Ochre to it for the sea. For the lower part of the sky I used mainly the Cerulean Blue and White. For the foliage I used a mixture of Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Yellow with a small amount of Cadmium Red for the darkest parts. The warm colour under the foliage is a mixture of Light Red and Yellow Ochre.
I found the colours all had good strength and mixed well with each other. Each colour performed well and I found the process of mixing and applying the paint smooth and trouble free, allowing me to concentrate on and enjoy the process of painting. I was pleased with the colour of the Cobalt blue and found it was just as good as the Daler Rowney version so will be ordering more of it in the future. I have found after several years of using the Jackson’s Artists Oil Colours they have been of a consistently high standard that I can rely on. They are a nice buttery consistency that suits my way of working and are very economical, especially in the larger tubes.
Read our earlier interview with Colin Willey.
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