Tuesday, 25 January 2011

How do I Paint Rust and Rusty Objects in my Still Life?

With the aim of supplying contrast between the old and new, the artist may include corroded objects in a still life. Rusty tools, watering cans or engine parts are sure to challenge the artist wishing to explore different textures. But despite attaining the desired colour mix, the objects portrayed do not suggest oxidisation. What art technique can the artist use to portray rusty metal convincingly?

Aged Effects in Oil Paint

Aged Objects in Still Life
Rachel Shirley
Aged textures on metal may sometimes defeat the artist who is unsure of how to capture the texture of rust or peeling paint. Sensitive colour mixing is not always enough to suggest rust, and in some cases will merely make the object appear brown or orange. This situation is not helped if the paint is applied evenly and with uniform brush marks. The secret to painting rusty objects effectively lies partially in colour-mixing; the rest is down to how the paint is applied.

Rusty Objects for Still Life

Partially-oxidised metal objects will offer interesting contrasts between blemished and unblemished areas, which can be exploited in paint. Peeling paint can also add charm and visual textures to any still life. With several elements to consider, there is a choice of techniques the artist may use to suggest each.

Art Technique for Painting Rusty Metal

Good visual resources are vital for subtle effects such as rust. In this respect, little can compare to painting from life, which was what I did for the rustic watering can. The following technique can be tried.

Make sensitive observations of the rusty object regarding hue and tone. I find various amounts of burnt sienna, cadmium red, burnt umber, permanent rose and white occur most prevalently in rusted objects, although blues and violets will be seen in shaded areas. Corrugated iron may exhibit burnt umber, ultramarine and pthalo blue in various portions.

Apply a thin under-glaze of burnt umber acrylic prior to the painting. This will help when judging tonal values of the rust, as well as support the overlying rusty colours. Once dry, begin with the palest areas of the rust first. Apply the paint briskly and unevenly via a filbert ox-hair. Allow a little of the under-glaze to show through in places to add expression and suggest rough textures. A technique known as sgraffito can be incorporated, which involves etching into the paint layer with sharp implements to emulate a scratchy surface.

How to Age Metal with Oil Paint

The Encyclopedia of Oil Painting Techniques: A Unique Step-by-Step Visual Directory of All the Key Oil-Painting Techniques, Plus an Inspirational Gallery Showing How They Can Be Put into PracticeWork progressively darker, adding a little ultramarine and/or burnt umber. Allow brush marks to remain in the paint. If peeling paint is featured on the object, apply the colour concerned thinly, working the paint roughly.

If the painting of rusty metal does not work out, allow the painting to dry and then work on top. Uneven layers of the underlying impasto will enable the artist to “scumble” paint onto selected areas of the subject matter to achieve a broken glaze. Applying the oil paint thinly (without adding linseed oil) will bring an effect like pastel pencil to the painting, ideal for suggesting rusty textures within a still life setting.

Textures in Oil Paint

The raised edges of cracked paint on a metallic object can be suggested if a little burnt umber is applied to shaded areas of the painting via a fine sable. Better control of the paint is possible if the pigment is applied neat rather than thinned with linseed, bringing an effect like crayon. Do not apply the paint in linear fashion, but with uneven marks. Remember that shadows cast by raised edges will often adjunct bright highlights of the raised edges themselves.

Finally, remember to make artistic comparisons between the rusty areas of the object and the unblemished metal, to ensure the tone and hue of each relate accurately.

Articles on Painting Aged Still Life

1 comment:

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