Monday, October 21, 2013

Why Andy Paints in Oils

Dusty Bronc

Andy Thomas is an immensely talented oil painter. His paintings capture the viewers eye and release their imagination. If you own an Andy Thomas piece, then you know exactly what I mean. A story lies in every image, sometimes Andy provides us with a story and other times it's completely up to the viewer, but either way, there is always a story to be told. Andy manages to surprise his audience every time with his action packed oil paintings.

Ever wonder why Andy paints with oils rather than other mediums? I conducted a short interview with Andy to find out why... Here it is!

1. Why do you paint in oils vs other mediums, such as watercolors or acrylics?

"I originally started painting in oils because they are so challenging. I wanted to learn to master the medium. I like all mediums but I primarily stick with oil now because:

1. They allow me to paint the narrative, storytelling paintings I want to paint.
2. They dry slow so I can blend and create the buttery, sculpted forms I like.
3. My favorite paints and artists all use oil.
4. Frankly, oil paintings, as a rule, can demand higher prices."

2. What type of oil paints do you use?

"I use Gamblin Brand. The various brands confused me so I settled on Gamblin after Robert Gamblin, when he owned the company, personally answered an inquiry I sent. Any brand that is color-fast is good."

3. How often do you paint with acrylics or watercolors?

"I almost never use acrylic, except to help kids with school projects or around the house. Acrylics dry too fast for me. I like to paint wet-in-wet. Also, with my forgetful nature, I'd ruin dozens of brushes every month by letting paint dry in the bristles. I really enjoy watercolors, especially loose wet-in-wet techniques. I rarely paint in watercolors for paintings to sell. I use them for gifts to family members or special note cards."

4. Will we ever see a large piece painted in something other than oil? Would it be hard for you to create a large western painting in something other than oil?

"No, any large piece I paint will be in oil. Painting large areas would be hit-or-miss for me in any medium except oil."

5. Do you feel there is a difference in quality with oil paints vs. other mediums? How does painting in oils benefit your paintings?

"Yes, I think there is a difference. I think oils allow me the flexibility to paint thick and thin and control the color hue and intensity. Also, oils can be magnificently painted with translucence, though I rarely use them that way. That being said, I see great works painted by other artists in all manner of media."

6. Do you feel oils provide more color and depth for your paintings?

"Yes, color and depth are better for me with oil."

7. What medium do you think is hardest for a beginner to paint with? What would you recommend?

"Oil and watercolor both need some practice of techniques to master their great qualities. Personally, I thought watercolor techniques (wet-in-wet, deep color washes, dry-brush  etc), were easier to learn. It might be different with other people. The great seductive quality about acrylics is the ease of which a beginner can paint. You can paint something and, if you don't like it, wait five minutes and repaint on a dry surface. In my painting experience, acrylic can't do the fluid washes of watercolor or the impasto brush strokes of oil."

8. Are oils better for blending as opposed to acrylics?

"Oils blend better than acrylics, in my experience. Or maybe I just don't work fast enough for acrylic."

9. What's your favorite part about working with oils?

"Oils dry slowly and I learned to enjoy painting wet-in-wet. Sometimes I will lay down a brush stroke and modify it (scrape it, blend an edge, drag a dry brush over it) an hour or two later. I usually do fast under painting, very direct and impasto, and then spend some time changing the edges, mostly obscuring them so I can put in the edges I want in the finished painting."

"This has been all about painting, but I would like to mention my affinity for drawing. Pencil, charcoal and pen-and-ink are great mediums. Drawing is the basis of all good painting."

If you have any questions for Andy, leave them in the comments below. Maybe I'll be able to get Andy to do an interview based on your questions!