Last night I started work on a new small painting of an onion. I have a lot of little 7 x 6 canvases I stretched and primed a long time ago, designed to be part of an ongoing series of onion portraits. There are different reason for me to work on this painting. Number one, I have been working on multiple paintings since last year but I can't seem to finish them. I get bored, or scared. And so I leave them untouched for months. Working on smaller pieces like this one seems less daunting of a task. Number two, I received some samples of Graham oil paint. I've heard wonders about this paint from different people, about how buttery the colors are.
So why not try Mr. Graham's paint? As I lay the colors on the palette I noticed them to be more fluffy, airy, and yes, buttery. Ground in walnut oil the smell of the paint was different than what I'm used to, which is linseed oil based Williamsburg and Old Holland. The biggest difference was painting with them. Covering the canvas with a tone was no problem since the paint extended very far with little medium due to their wet nature. But soon I was out of my comfort zone. Graham's colors were too wet for my taste. I rarely used any medium and the paint flowed and ran. I'm used to stiff paint, something I can loosen up when needed and when not keeping them bulky to apply alla prima passages. I couldn't get the dry brush effect with Graham. I broke down at some point and had to dig in one of my drawers for some Old Holland paint. I needed paint with more body.
The only area I used Old Holland is the blue area where the onion rests on top of. Everything else are mixtures of Graham's yellow ochre, burnt sienna, terra rosa, raw umber, and titanium white. I let the paint rest and dry a bit between layer for about 10 or 15 minutes, but walnut oil doesn't dry of become short like linseed. After getting the general effect of what this painting might look like, I set it aside, and will wait for the paint to dry completely to the touch so that I could back to it without making a mess.