Windy Day, Sennen Cove, oil painting plein air, using Griffin Alkyd quick drying oil paints

A windy day at Sennen Cove, surf coming over the harbour wall
Oil paint, size about 14 ins, Vivien Blackburn

High tide on a windy day with huge swells sweeping in and crashing onto the reef of rocks offshore and over the harbour wall. At the front a confused lacy pattern of foam.

This was done last week in Cornwall, in Griffin Alkyds. I love these for working on quick plein airs as they dry overnight. Thinner applications of paint are dry within hours but they give enough time for pushing and pulling colour and marks, unlike acrylics.

This speed of drying means glazes can be applied the following day where required instead of a long wait.

Griffin Alkyds are proper oils and are used in the same way as any other oils. They are NOT water soluble and are NOT acrylics as some people imagine. Alkyd resin is a drier mixed with the paint to speed and even up drying times and I find this very useful.

These were painted on Friday and were perfectly dry to pack up on Saturday :>) even with a little impasto in the white surf.

They come in a wide range of colours and I only occasionally mix a touch of an artists oil with them, for the most part the colours are quite sufficient.

They are maybe a little more fluid than some high quality artists oils but this suits the way I work. I only use a little impasto, most paint is relatively thinly applied, scratched into, overlaid and colour mixed on the canvas to get subtle changes. I dislike overly textured lumpy-porridge-like surfaces that are there for no real reason! It can be used for impasto very successfully where needed and I've sometimes purposely mixed sand into it when working on the beach.

Usually I take a small bottle of turps with me but this holiday I decided to skip turps altogether and simply use Liquin for thinning the paint where necessary. It worked really well and I would do this again.

For cleaning up - brushes and me - I use baby oil and rags. It works brilliantly and smells good - unlike turps or white spirit. It's environmentally more friendly as well.

I worked on a cryla pad (I usually do when working plein air with oils) - a sort of canvas like surface, not too textured, that's primed and suitable for oils or acrylics. The fact that it's 'only' paper is very freeing. The pad I was using was 20x16 ins - a really nice size, not cramping like some smaller ones. I don't know if they've stopped making them - does anyone know? because I can't find an online link and I haven't needed to buy one for a while. There are similar ones by other makers if you search on paper for acrylic paints.

I used a couple of nylon brushes and a painting knife. I only occasionally use hogs hair brushes as I prefer the touch of nylon bristles with oils, firm but flexible.

The weather varied from a millpond calm bay, sheltered from the east wind to this wild day :>), amber dawn skies, spectacular sunsets - lovely lovely changes :>)

This is one of 3 I did that morning - you can see all 3 here.


Zahra Maryam said…
I like the colours, nice work!
vivien said…
thank you :>)
Gesa said…
Ah... that's were you went to. So jealous! And by the look of it you had plenty of wild waves... even more jealous :) Thanks for the insight into working with Alkyds. I still have to try taking oils outdoor but my recent foray into them in the studio made me eager for outdoors...
vivien said…
oh Gesa you'd love it!

and even longer journey for you though - you could fly ...

the 320+ miles is a long drive :>(

You'll love the alkyds outdoors - so flexible and you can add a flash of light so quickly.

Usually I work in one of the cryla pads and just turn the page, continuing on the next one - you'll get a bit of a monoprint on the back of the previous page but it won't harm the painting unless you've really gone impasto - and because it's oil it doesn't stick either :>)

They work nicely in cartridge paper sketchbooks as well. Not archivally sound but hey - Degas often worked on paper!
Jennifer Rose said…
this is gorgeous! lovely colours and I can feel the waves crashing around, great sense of movement
Jean Spitzer said…
I don't paint outdoors, but anything that is environmentally friendly and quicker drying sounds very promising. Thanks for writing about it. I'm already using oil to clean up (I use safflower oil, on the recommendation of the blogger at Fat over Lean.)
Robyn said…
Three beautiful paintings, Vivien. I love your waves. Now I'm thinking it can't have been that comfortable sitting in the wind to paint, which makes this an even more impressive achievement.

Having to reverse half a mile down a narrow lane is just about my worst nightmare! So I'm impressed with that achievement as well ;)
Lindsay said…
Vivien, this was just what I needed. I've developed a reaction to the terps and feel so sad about this. But your solution of Liquin and baby wipes ought to work nicely. I'm going to try this when life settles down a bit. Thanks for sharing.
vivien said…
Lindsay, Robyn, Jean and Jennifer

thank you :>)

I hope it solves your problem Lindsay - I actually use baby oil in the bottle rather than wipes. I think it works out cheaper though I haven't seriously compared. You can also use as much as you want.

For cleaning up you can use the cheapest cooking oil.

It was a nightmare Robyn with the tanker driver watching every move!
Anonymous said…
I inherited some G Alkyds and they have a lovely texture. I really should play with them more often. Thanks for the baby oil suggestion. I'll give it a try.
As always, your waves are fantastic - like being there with the fine spray in my hair.

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