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Demonstration by William Whitaker - Artist Website


A painting demonstration in oil on a 14x20" panel.    

      I prepared a hardboard quarter inch panel by applying at least six coats of acrylic gesso with a brush.   After letting it dry for a week, I wet sanded the surface until it was flawlessly smooth.  I toned the panel with raw umber oil paint to which I added a bit of alkyd medium and a little turpentine.  I rubbed the surface down with a rag until the surface was a medium light value.  I let it dry a few days.  I started to paint directly, without any preliminary drawing.   I concentrated on the central figure.

     The little figure was less than six inches high.  I had so much fun with it that I finished it first.  I used both hogs bristle brushes and sable brushes in this painting.  My best sable was either a Winsor & Newton or a Daniel Smith number four.  A new kolinsky sable is a wonderful tool, but in spite of careful cleaning they begin to lose their quality in a week or two.  As painting medium I used linseed oil that I thickened with lead in the sun out behind my warehouse studio.  The paint worked wonderfully well.

     This painting was inspired by a visit to the Alaska panhandle.  I called it Elfin Cove after the fishing village on Chichagof Island.  It actually looks nothing like Elfin Cove except for the typical boardwalk.   By this stage I'd laid in just about everything.  I continued to have a lovely time with the wood textures.  The smooth panel made it easy to create visual texture.

     In Sitka, I'd seen a building with a window boarded up on the inside, the glass still in place.  I included it.  The pots came from my own garden.  The "VE" is the end of a sign that reads "Elfin Cove".  If I'd had more panel, I could have included more letters.

     I have lots of prop dresses for my models.  I got this one in Mexico.  I never saw anybody in Alaska wear anything like this.  I painted this work in 1983.  My eyes were much better then.  To paint a figure this size now (about 5 and a half inches), I have to wear close-up glasses as thick as the bottom of old coke bottles.  

     The last thing I did was work on the roof.  I saw some wonderfully mossy green roofs in Alaska and I worked on these shingles with loving care.   I felt the painting looked too dry for Alaska.  Had I painted it on location rather than in the studio, it might have looked wetter and cooler.






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