Monday, 14 March 2011

Oilbars and parrots

Using an Oilbar reminds me of being a child and scribbling on the wallpaper with my grannies lipstick.

The same luscious colour exudes and the velvety texture just begs to be smeared.

In fact opening a packet of Winsor & Newton Oilbars is like gazing into Fanny Cradocks make up box.

All those mad, beautiful, seductive colours; and all in stick form.

I am currently working on a fund raising project for my friends at the World Parrot Trust and can think of no better subject than a beautiful Blue and Gold Macaw to try out my sticky, glorious Oilbars.

I quickly arrange my favourite oil painting acquaintances next to my easel, Liquin, White Spirit, rags, stubbly old brushes and palette knives.

The Oilbars can in fact be used with any oil medium and are so tactile that you don’t really need any brushes at all.

I carefully study my small collection of Macaw feathers and realise that the intense, iridescent colours are tailor made for Oilbars (or should that be the other way around?).

Anyway, after squaring up my sketch onto a piece of 24” x 24” MDF which has had a few coats of gesso, I get caught up in applying the paint and begin working in a bit of a frenzy.

The Oilbars send out the same gorgeous studio scent of linseed that is so identifiable with oil paint and so inductive to creativity.

In fact Oilbars are just that; oil paint in the shape of a bar, well, with just a little top-secret waxy stuff added to help them hold their lipstick form.

Oilbars also come complete with their own little plastic sleeve to enable you to keep your fingers all nice and clean.

Unless you are a messy kind of creative, in which case you get to squish, squash and smear the pigment anywhere and everywhere.

Just remember though that as with conventional oils, these Oilbars don’t wash off easily, so before you start to paint in your best dinner suit or Fanny Craddock outfit, I’d recommend that you change into something a little more suitable.

Anyway, where was I?

Oh yes, back to the painting.

After scribbling on some Cadmium yellow, Ultramarine and Sienna I begin laying on some heavier paint.

The Oilbars are able to give such a great buttery texture that I can work into them to help form the parrot’s feathers.

Mixing conventional oils and Oilbars together with Liquin means that I am able to drip, flick and spatter the paint to help me to achieve the interesting textures that I am after.

I also apply a few of the Macaw feathers themselves to the painting to give another layer of interest. I should say at this stage that the feathers are naturally moulted!

The Oilbars work so well with tube oil paint that they are truly a match made in heaven, the major advantage being that you can draw with the Oilbars in the way that you can with pastels.

This major advantage makes me wonder what Degas would have made of Oilbars?

After all Degas only abandoned working in oils after his eyesight started to fail, finding that pastels were easier to ‘paint’ with and ultimately more suited to his work.

I’m sure that Degas would have loved to have access to his beloved oil paints in a stick form, to enable his sweeping pastel strokes that are difficult to achieve with a loaded brush.

A really useful Oilbar item is the colourless medium stick, which can be used to easily blend the colours, and there are 50 new colours to choose from in 50ml (good handful size) sticks.

The Oilbars dry a little faster than normal oils and one of the many amazing feats that they perform is that they don’t mix in when you over paint, even when using white, I know, I know how can that be?

All in all, these juicy sticks of pure dynamite are an absolute joy to use; a joy to hold, to draw with, paint with and smear with.

Just don’t try using them as make up.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i remember discovering oil bars at school - wonderful, pure joy to work with :)