From below

This was the last week of my oil class, and with a little time spent working on this at home as well, I had time to finish one more painting. Because this canvas (16″ x 20″) was larger than the previous one, it took some time to complete. With my years of experience in watercolour I’ve probably never taken longer than three hours to complete a painting, but it takes a long time to cover canvas with paint! I would estimate about 8 hours for this one.

This scene of New Bonaventure, Newfoundland was one I have painted before in watercolour, but this time I wanted to paint the view from below instead of from the hilltop overlooking the village. The pattern of pilings and mossy rocks was what I found interesting when I took the reference image, and was probably the part of the painting that was most fun to work on.

My oil painting toolbox contains a limited amount of colours: Phthalo Green and Alizarin Crimson (together they make the black), Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow, Ultramarine Blue, Cerulean Blue and White. From this you can mix pretty much anything except for bright purples and violets. As always, I like to work with a limited palette and especially since I am just starting to learn how to work in oil, this reduces the variables quite a bit. There’s still a lot to learn but I’m setting up a space in my studio for oils so I can practice some more.



59 Comments on “From below”

  1. Mayela Lameda-Lver says:

    Absolutely fabulous Shari. You did an awesome job

  2. Gail says:

    This is gorgeous, Shari. I love that colour palette.

  3. Irina says:

    Amazing. With your deep knowledge of watercolor, oil will be easy task, I am sure.

  4. Shari

    You don’t need a lot more practice! That painting is totally delicious. My only comment might be to tone down the far reflection on the water. It appears to be almost the same color as the lovely green hillside. You did a masterful job on foreground reflections.

    I absolutely love all your sketches and am a huge fan, sending your links to other artist friends. Your students are so fortunate to have you as their instructor.

    sally (in California)


    • Hi Sally,
      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. I am going to take a look at those reflections, but I see what you mean. That’s the advantage of oils I guess… you can go back and change stuff. It sure wouldn’t be as easy in watercolour to tone down the reflections without making a real mess of it.

  5. Maggie says:

    Really like this!

  6. Bernadette says:

    absolutely beautiful! Oil painting takes moe waiting time, allowing paint to dry so that you can paint over, around or change directions. It will make you more patient. It is wonderful as all your work. You must be proud of this new adventure of painting.
    Thank you for sharing. It is always a delight.


    • Hi Bernadette, I really your comment about being patient. It’s so true. I find it is very relaxing to paint in oils — probably more so than watercolour since you can leave and come back any time. With watercolour I always feel that I can’t start something unless I have a good chunk of time to work. And yes, I am enjoying this new adventure very much!

  7. Geoffrey Bladon says:

    Congratulations Shari! You have come a long way in a short time. For an even more limited (3) but effective palette Google ‘Putnam Palette.’

    Geoff ________________________________

    • Hi Geoff, Thanks for the link. I looked at the palette before I looked at her work and I wondered how she makes real darks from that triad. But then I looked at her work (which I liked very much, btw) and I see that her paintings are very high key, for the most part. She achieves a real sense of unity with that limited range of colours. Many thanks for pointing me in that direction.

  8. M. L. Kappa says:

    I also took a class in oil, having never used the medium before (I work on paper with watercolor, Ink, colored pencils etc). I was interested in doing a child’s portrait, so I copied a detail from a Gauguin painting, using a limited palette. I found the process very interesting… Your painting has turned out great, btw!

    • Marina, I would be interested to know if you continued with oil painting after you took the class. Maybe you just did the child’s portrait and that was the end of the oils. But I am curious so let me know if you get a chance.

      • M. L. Kappa says:

        No, I didn’t. Mostly due to lack of time. And I’m hesitant about getting oil paints to work with at home – it’s a whole other lot of supplies. But I’m planning to in future. I really enjoyed it and I think I learned a few things as well. It’s a different type of relaxation, to plaster on the stuff and wipe it off if you want!

  9. Janet says:

    A beautiful piece of art!
    Happy holidays.

  10. Sometime you’d probably like to try plein air painting in oils. The big advantage is that you really can’t spend more than two hours because the light changes so much. Still not as speedy as watercolor but pretty good and easier than painting from a photo which can be deceptive. Love your work no matter the medium!

    • Hi Cornelia. I absolutely want to try plein air painting in oils. It’s just that it’s winter in Montreal so I can’t do it right now. I will be out there this summer, though. In the meantime, I may experiment with a still life, just to see what painting from life is like in oils. Many thanks for writing.

  11. Frank Bettendorf says:

    Wonderful! Interesting subject that you’ve captured with limited colors and appears to capture the spirit of the location. Very well down for a “beginner!”

  12. You seem to have taken to oils like a duck to water, Shari! This is lovely!!!

  13. Savanna Ouellette says:

    I don’t generally appreciate oils but you have created a beautiful painting with the watercolorist’s attention to light and transparency.

  14. Dottie Aiken says:

    I really like this. Great job! Changing medium is hard. I’m trying to go from acrylics to watercolor and find it very difficult. But it’s fun to experiment. Keep up the good work.

  15. Barbara Beynon says:

    I like this painting a lot. You have created some wonderful colors with your limited palette–somehow a little unusual or unexpected–and very pleasing. I am thinking Diebenkorn, perhaps because of the strong horizontal lines of some of the shapes, perhaps because of glazing technique? In any event, lovely.

  16. Suzanne says:

    You are crazy good at this!

  17. Susan Power says:

    Nice job! Looks like Newfoundland to me.

  18. rosjenke says:

    What a delight to see this in my feed. Your paintings are masterful, whatever media.

  19. Ivana Bowes says:

    Really lovely painting, as interesting to look at as your watercolours. Lively and fresh
    , not at all overworked.what a great result!

  20. Jeff Gold says:

    This is really stunning!. The freshness of the color, the beautiful composition and particularly the wonderful reflections on the water all contribute to something truly beautiful. The brushwork feels very direct, not at all hesitant, which adds to the strength of the total image. I especially love the richness of color in the right side reflection; I can almost taste the greens! I can spend as many hours looking at it as you did painting it. Can’t wait to see more. You continue to amaze and inspire.

  21. Judy Sopher says:

    You amaze me with your ability to take to oil after using watercolor for so long. I was never that flexible. This is a lovely painting. I do like your use of shapes. Do you like oil as much as watercolor?

    • Hi Judy. Thanks for writing. I actually do like oil quite a bit. I can’t say I love it yet, the way I love watercolour, but that may change. I guess I love painting in general, and it doesn’t really matter what I use. I am just very grateful when I have the luxury of time to paint.

  22. Beste Barki says:

    I like it very much. What a beautiful painting. I’m a fan of watercolors and I love your creations. Now that you know how good you can be with oil too, I hope you will always keep watercolors first in your heart.

  23. SONI MCFARLAND says:

    This is fabulous – don’t change a thing !!

  24. Douglas Moench Jr says:


  25. richardrabkin says:

    I like it, but itlLooks like a watercolor. I can’t figure out why. I think it might be the way you handle the edges. Check out Tim Horn: Richard

  26. Janet. says:

    A lovely painting Shari. Have a wonderful Christmas season with some time to paint.

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