"Swimming in Paint"

This is about the most fascinating career choice I ever made, that of an Oil Painter

Monday, September 26, 2016

S.I.P - Making a statement with your art through the power of size.

The power of art can engage, invite an audience to enter your world. Size is a very powerful and captivating experience to share with others and a worthwhile experience for any artist to pursue at least once.

Artistic communication on this scale requires formulating big ideas, and having the ability to organize and execute. Know to expect the unexpected......

This week the "Swimming in Paint team" is about to enter a larger pool, LARGE FORMAT PAINTING....not for everyone. Kinda like jumping off the highest board, conquering the fear of heights, choosing it over the less challenging lower boards. One might say, why?  Well, more room to paint, wave your arms around, allow the paint filled brush to dance across space and canvas to the music man. A conductor exploring intuitive painting without boundaries. Get closeup and personal, make a personal statement with our art that will require quick thinking, coordination between palette and canvas, a brain syncing exercise at its best. The ultimate goal, self satisfaction, making a broader statement with your art that will resinate....perhaps through time

A belly flop is almost certain the first time. Yikes! Hate to say it team, at best, it will be a clumsy effort. Like all things it requires more than a few tries to understand how to conquer space. One tried and true method is to "divide and conquer".......historically effective. Organizational skills, able to think big, make quick decisions helps make the landing a bit softer. Expect the unexpected.....

The team has (3) days to finish. They pick their size and subject. Over the last months the team worked mostly on 30x30 canvas, 900 square inches and smaller ones to explore, a horse, a bird, a Koi and so on. We'll go bigger, double or triple the 900 square inch size up to a 2700 - 3000 square inches.....a single canvas around 56x48.

Our current easels have some size limitations but with more time we could also go much larger by connecting canvas together. My first one was a 60x90 (below) made up of (3) 60x30 canvases. The largest was a 60x192 made up of (4) 60x48 canvases (easier when it comes to storage and shipping)

Winter Koi - Maymont 60x90 oil on linen - canvas 464 (4-12-11)
Cottrell Collection 


Friday, think of approaching our large white canvas this way. The painting above could also be accomplished with (6) 30x30 canvases, 5400 sq. in. Does this also remind anyone of the (9) Squares painting we did a while back? " Divide and Conquerer"!

This particular painting would take longer than our (3) day studio would allow. Technically using this formula, it would take (6) days. Which makes me believe the team, over (3) days, can triple a 30x30 (900sq,in) into a complete 2700 square inch plus canvas.

Coaches conclusion: If you painted the "Swimming in Paint" 30x30 standard size canvas, completed it or came close each session, did the smaller studies and attended more than a few sessions, this project is absolutely do-able by any team member ........so, while I said "Expect a Belly Flop" I don't expect that to happen!
Friday morning 9:30am Crossroads classroom # 1......you know the rest:=) 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

S.I.P. #24 & 25, Friday 23rd & Sturday 24th


 Birds & Flowers

10:00 am to 2:30pm  (Lunch break at 12:15)

team LIMITED TO 10

The team will meet in CLASSROOM 1

 Contact Crossroads Art Center for details 804.278.8950 

"Swimming in Paint" is always about following the light, painting shapes with colour and energy!

The team, this week will be exploring humming birds. If you've never painted a bird before, the first time could be a bit clumsy because painting a bird or flower or some other subject once won't get you there.... it requires study and painting a combination of different approaches with editing over a period of time to find your sweet spot. If we do, success with any painting subject is a real possibility.


The potential of birds making art is limited only by our imagination. Birds can be main players or simply an accessory to a visual narrative.

The painting above shows how important it is to also know how to paint a landscape with air, as in atmosphere, flora and a few humming birds. So unquestionably, it takes broad range subject knowledge as a painter to even consider a complex painting shown above in the first place.

Swimming in Paint has visited all the different aspects of this painting numerous times with our "broad based subjects" approach each week. Last Saturday we painted a vase of fresh cut flowers, which I continued on with in my studio on a fresh 30x30 linen canvas. I did rearrange it with a few new flowers. I guess you could call it homework.......YIKES! It never stops:=)


How does this fit into birds? This particular painting didn't..... all this painting did was lead me to a quick thought about flowers and humming birds buzzing around. Because, while I was doing this, I was also thinking about birds and looking for birds to paint this weekend.......hummmmmm. Basically a continuation of last week.


 I can see a few humming birds buzzing around these fresh cuts below - so I'll bring it back so we can work our birds in.

While we could end up with a masterpiece, this exercise is not about making a masterpiece. If it doesn't work, wipe it off, jump in again - always with energy!

For those who can't make the class or live in distant lands, download the references and try this at home. Email me at Chuck@Larivey.com with your results - I would love to see them:=)


A large selection 5X7 References will be available

Brown bag or order lunch from Gretchen's before class. The lunch table is a wonderful time to chat and study our progress.

Canvas size, 20x20 or larger. Preferably Centurion double primed oil linen. An ample supply of smooth stretched oil primed linen canvas in various sizes will always be available.

24x24 - $20.00 each
30x30 - $25.00 each

There will also be a supply of Royal soft grip brushes (SG4500 Series) available at $2.50 each.

I do encourage using a glass palette - old picture frame glass works with a white sheet of paper and a cardboard backing or foam core with blue taped edges to hold it all together. 

Please try to have (1) Flexible palette knife. Preferably similar to the two on the left.

(16x20 shown)


(1) 20x20 or larger canvas - Centurion oil primed linen or equal
(1) #8 or #6 Royal soft grip SG4520 Filbert (rounded flat)
(1) #12 or #10 Royal soft grip SG4510 Bright (flat)

A few palette knives (flexible)
Glass palette with a small paint scraper
3 or 4 sheets of paper towels (folded into quarters)
Neo Megilp oil painting medium
Clean cotton rags - (cut up old cotton Tee shirts and white socks work well)
Small amount of odorless mineral spirits - at least 8 oz.

Basic palette: I added a few of the specialty colours I often use - either way I always share those colours.

Titanium White or a fast drying Griffin alkyd by Winsor & Newton
Naples yellow
Lemon yellow
Cadmium Yellow medium
Alizarin Orange (Williamsburg)
Permanent green light
Sap green
Chromium Oxide or green oxide
Cerulean Blue
Sevres Blue (Williamsburg)
French Ultramarine Blue
Ultramarine Blue French (Williamsburg)
Dioxazine Purple
Provence Violet Bluish (Williamsburg)
Alizarin Crimson
Permanent Rose
Persian Rose (Williamsburg)
Cadmium Vermilion (Williamsburg)


Jerry's has Centurion oil linen well priced already stretched by the box (6)......check it out.



Royal SG4500 series long handle soft grip brushes (LINK)
Direct link to brushes - scroll down to the SG4500 series

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Fun painting Venice, London, Birds & Flowers

Variety is the spice of life, true in life, art and for artists. One of the things I like as a painter, is versatility, the freedom to paint any subject range.....! So in "Swimming in Paint", we paint all things challenging whenever possible. Although subject matter is not the main "Swimming in Paint" mission, subject is the beginning of the imaginative process. The experience is better knowing how and what paint can produce.....the fun part is putting it all together.

"Swimming in Paint" is about getting comfortable with the tools of the trade, developing paint quality. Creating beautiful effects in paint with the many tools at our disposal - key to a successful  surface texture. Couple this with a strong design and it often leads to a worthwhile outcome and fun experience painting. 


 GUARDIAN 24x24 oil on linen 9/15/16


POWER PLAY 26x30 oil on linen 9/16/16

Last week we worked from life....a big vase of fresh cut flowers. 



I personally like brushwork that makes sense to the whole composition and  encourages movement! It can be expressive or refined... regardless I still look for interesting edges and textural effects in all styles of painting, including abstraction where good design rules. Good at 30 feet and closeup and personal!

The "Swimming in Paint" team shows me every week how much fun the team is having navigating the "quicksand" (as I call it). Every week I enjoy seeing the potential each have!