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 O’Hagan. “When you start to overwork and really needle certain areas, the rhythm stops.”
In the video workshop, Oil Painting: Bold and Direct, O’Hagan 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, O’Hagan 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.
Start with the Darks
With a large brush, O’Hagan 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.”
Move On to the Mid Tones
After thinly applying the darks, O’Hagan 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 O’Hagan, noting that the shadows in the composition will start to pop out as you slowly lighten the pigments.
Finish with the Lights
Once the mid tones are established, O’Hagan 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 O’Hagan. “Let your eye make up that detail.”
Be Bold but Balanced
By working from darks to mid tones to lights with confident and loose brushstrokes, O’Hagan is able to create a powerfully balanced oil painting of a picturesque urban landscape in winter.
“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., O’Hagan’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 O’Hagan by visiting his website, desmondohagan.com.