Bold and Direct Painting for Powerful Results

For artist Desmond O’Hagan, the key to success is to not get lost in the details and final touches of a painting.“Painting is a lot like music [because] you want to have a flow to it,” says Desmond. “When you start to overwork and really needle certain areas, the rhythm stops.”

In his latest video streaming on ArtistsNetwork.tv, Oil Painting: Bold and Direct, Desmond walks you step by step through his relaxed painting process, completing a brilliant oil painting of a house on a bright winter day.

“When it comes to my [painting method], I like the more bold-and-direct approach with pastels and oils. The effect that I am trying to achieve is: [Put] that stroke down and move on. Don’t needle it. Don’t overwork it,” he shares. “I find that gives you more [of a] cohesive [painting], and it makes more of a statement.”

Using a reference image (below) of an urban neighborhood on a sunny winter day, Desmond works from thin applications of dark oils to the mid tones before finishing the painting with thick, light oils. Read on for a sneak peek into his painting process.

Desmond O'Hagan, Bold and Direct, Oil Painting, Photo Reference of Urban Home on Winter Day

Desmond O’Hagan’s photo reference for Oil Painting: Bold and Direct

Start with the darks

With a large brush, Desmond begins by establishing the darks on the composition in thin, varied applications using a mixture of ultramarine blue, burnt sienna and alizarin crimson oil paint to start.

“I try and make my darkest colors [with] the idea that everything has a sense of color in it,” he explains. “Black would be a little too deadening, so I try to stay away from black oils.”

Desmond O'Hagan, Oil Painting: Bold and Direct, painting techniques, oil techniques, painting demonstration, detail shot, dark oil paints, canvas

Move On to the Mid Tones

After thinly applying the darks, Desmond sets to work painting the mid tones across the surface, constantly changing the direction of his brushstrokes, and experimenting with layering the colors.

“As you’re creating a sense of atmosphere, you are using those darks and lights and the values to give this [painting] just a little more punch,” states Desmond, noting that the shadows in the composition will start to pop out as you slowly lighten the pigments.

Desmond O'Hagan, Oil Painting: Bold and Direct, painting techniques, oil techniques, painting demonstration, detail shot, mid tone oil paints, canvas

Finish with the Lights

Once the mid tones are established, Desmond adds an array of vibrant warm and cool colors to establish the lights. From the snow covering parts of the yard and road to the sun shining down to create charming highlights on the trees and foliage, these final bursts of brightness bring the painting to life.

“Rather than just constantly going over things, I like the attitude of just really putting those strokes down and moving on,” says Desmond. “Let your eye make up that detail.”

Desmond O'Hagan, Oil Painting: Bold and Direct, painting techniques, oil techniques, painting demonstration, detail shot, light oil paints, opaques, canvas

Be Bold but Balanced

By working from darks to mid tones to lights with confident and loose brushstrokes, Desmond is able to create a powerfully balanced oil painting of a picturesque urban landscape in winter.

Desmond O'Hagan, Oil Painting: Bold and Direct, painting techniques, oil techniques, painting demonstration, complete painting, landscape painting, urban landscape, winter landscape, seasonal subject,

“Most of the painting was done with a relatively good size brush. That keeps you from going to the detail too quickly, and keeps your strokes nice and fluid and bold,” he explains. “That’s the whole point of this approach: nice, bold [and] direct strokes; not hesitant. Go in there, and if you need to change something go ahead and change it, but keep those strokes nice and bold.”

About the Artist

Desmond O’Hagan works in a vast array of art media, but his primary focus is in oil and pastel. Born in Wiesbaden, Germany, and raised in the U.S., Desmond’s career has encompassed numerous one-man shows and group exhibitions throughout the U.S., Japan, China and France. A Master Pastelist with the Pastel Society of America, he has won several awards for his work; and his paintings are featured in numerous publications, including The Artist’s Magazine. His studio is located in Denver, Colorado. You can learn more about Desmond by visiting his website, desmondohagan.com.

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