Demo: Layering Transparent Oil on Copper

With copper surfaces that illuminate his glazed colors, Kent Lovelace pays homage to vanished California landscapes. His work is featured in the September 2011 issue of The Artist’s Magazine. Click here to order your copy today.

Kent Lovelace evokes varnished landscapes by restricting his palette and painting not on canvas but on copper.



Layering Transparent Oil on Copper
By Kent Lovelace

1. I begin with a 48-ounce-weight sheet of copper, which I sand to an even texture with 60-grit sandpaper. Once the copper is sanded, I clean it with alcohol.


2. Already I must consider how I want the painting to be framed. If I want it to float over a backing board so I can leave the beveled edges of the copper exposed, I solder flat-headed brass machine bolts to the back of the copper.


3. I use Old Holland neutral tint for the underpainting. My medium is Liquin, and throughout my painting process I use Nos. 2, 4 and 6 filberts. To build form and texture, I use well-worn filbert brushes, rubber scrapers, rags, brush tails (handles) and whatever else will create the marks I need. Once the underpainting is completed, I put the painting aside for a day or so to dry. Note that the sky area remains unpainted.


4. I float green umber mixed with yellow ochre and some Cremnitz white over the dry underpainting in the foreground. I also begin work in the trees. All my paint layers are thin and transparent, so the radiance of the copper shows through. The sky area is still unpainted.


5. When I’m basically satisfied with the foreground, I begin the sky with a layer of transparent yellow ochre and Cremnitz white. You can still see a patch of unpainted copper on the upper left. I carefully work the edges where the sky meets the ground and trees. These edges meet in some areas and overlap in others, and sometimes I leave a glint of bare copper.


6. Layered mixes of Cremnitz white, cobalt, bright violet and yellow ochre finish the sky. At this point, I do some additional painting in the foreground, trees and horizon. I may alter values, tints and textures for weeks or months. Notice that I’ve left exposed areas of copper in the tree trunk and lower right foreground. Elsewhere the glow of copper extends through the layers of transparent oils.


Kent Lovelace was featured in the September 2011 issue of The Artist’s Magazine. Click here to order your copy today.

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