‘The Love of Elephants’ – an oil painting #1

I have been waiting and waiting to have a try at oil painting again, having only painted one previous oil painting in my life before.

So when I saw saw a set of Winsor and Newton Artist’s Oil Colours which were half price I finally bought some.  Then I spent a long time trying to work out which mediums to use.  Previously I’d been very traditional, painting with turps and linseed oil as my mum had showed me, but I can’t go back to that turps smell again.  So, after some research, and some very kind help from the technical people at Winsor and Newton, I decided to try Liquin for the first time and Sansador which is a low odour solvent.  I had some problems with my pain last week and was generally feeling unwell so I couldn’t get to the shops.  Instead I ordered them online – they should come very soon.

So what to paint?

I knew I wanted to paint an animal (my favourite painting subject) and finally settled on elephants.  I like them because they look really kind of odd in the most lovely way but at the same time they have these beautiful loving relationships between members of their family.

I made some pencil sketches in my sketchbook to begin with…





After doing these I decided to make a final sketch of a mother and her calf for my main painting.  I did this on canvas board, which was quite tricky to draw on with pencil because it’s got so much texture.

I didn’t put any shading or detail in – just enough to show my paintbrush where to go.  Here’s the final outline sketch:




Now I think I’m going to paint the elephants in purple/blue greys and soft browns but I needed a background colour and I needed to sort out my colour palette generally.  I want the final picture to have a calm restful complete feeling so I’m going to keep the colours restricted to two groups – yellow/browns and possibly grey/blue/purple (in the shadows) although this will be very muted,

Here’s a digital sketch of the colour ideas I’m working on at the moment…



My plan will be to make the greys in the above colour sketch just a little more blue/purple to show the coolness in the shade of these big animals and to complement the yellow orange of the savannah.

This is as far as I’ve got this week.  I’m still feeling a bit under the weather so I didn’t make a start but I’m quite excited to give this a go.

My health wasn’t helped by a big thunder storm last night.  I quite enjoy storms generally but my geriatric miniature schnauzer kept us both awake half the night with a new trick.  She would jump off my bed when the lightning flashed against the curtains and then jumped back on in terror when the thunder roared.  It was too hot for her to sleep really close to me which usually calms her down and, when she wasn’t jumping on and off, she kept panting and shaking from fear in the storm.  In the end I think we both got to sleep at about 3am when I put my hand over her front paws so she knew I was there but I didn’t make her too warm.  She is a silly sausage!



17 thoughts on “‘The Love of Elephants’ – an oil painting #1

  1. See? That sounds like so much fun! I’m glad you enjoyed the day. (I’m also glad you made that fantastic Gnome Ranger pun! I love it!) Eventually I’ll give one of these things a shot. Until then I appreciate being able to live vicariously through your exploits. Thanks for sharing!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice work Jo. I particularly like the line drawing. I’m looking forward to seeing what you do with the oil paints.

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  3. Yes, unfortunately many (all?) of the so-called odorless solvents are still solvents. They can make you feel sick even if you don’t smell anything. If you read the label, it will probably have the same warnings on it as regular solvents. I know a couple of artists who use water soluble oils and love them. It’s worth a quick experiment.

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  4. I’m glad you like the layout I chose and the drawings! I am going to have to play around with the solvent issue I think, the Sansador is not great. It makes me feel quite ill. I’m going to do some more research and I’ll look into the water soluble oils as well – thanks for a super idea!

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  5. Thanks! With respect to the solvents issue, I am finding the Sansador (W&N odourless thinner) less obnoxious than the turps used to be but using it is making me feel nauseous and dizzy. The first time it happened I just though I must have eaten something bad for me but I noticed that it happens every time I paint . I’m going to have to try a different thinner I think. I don’t the think I can give up oils, after all the difficulties I’ve had with other mediums, painting in oils is like coming home. For the first time I’m able to work with the paint and not fight against it.
    I have previously had an odd reaction to emulsion paint so I wonder if the Sansador has the same stuff in it?


  6. It was fun, we killed a load of hobgoblins, mimics (shape shifting gelatinous blobs which take the shape of regular objects and lie in wait to kill you) and a wizard. Our barbarian was especially good, he ate everything he could and hit everything else with a huge axe and we had to lead him around with a chicken leg in front of his face at one point. I played a 3ft tall gnome who was a forest ranger (the Gnome Ranger!) called Badger who was rubbish at the things he should be good at but turned out to be like One Punch Man with his long bow!

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  7. When I got to the sketch of the mother and baby elephant I was hoping that would be the one you would choose. Thank you! The sketches are really lovely all on their own. And the outline you did for the painting is perfect.
    If you find you are still having a problem with solvents after trying the Liquin, you might investigate water soluble oils. Just buy one small tube as a test and see if you and it get along.

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  8. This is indeed going to be lovely!
    Just a thought about your comment re turps. I have a lifelong health problem from age 16 due to a massive dose of antibiotics administered in the tropics. I say this simply so you won’t think I am dramatizing. As a result, I am allergic to many things (all grains, petroleum products, cigarette smoke etc), and my skin is my barometer. Years ago I used to paint with oils and loved it, but gave up because the smell seemed to affect me. I haven’t painted in oils since. Recently, while having some work done on a cottage on my place, I painted a number of window frames with a preservative that had to be diluted with turps. Well, my skin came up really badly from that, and I now know I shall never be tempted to use turps again. Shall be interested to hear your comments when you have tried an alternative solvent!
    All the very best with the progress on this painting.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. That sounds awesome! I’ve always been fascinated by RPGs. I can’t say I’ve ever played them myself but I’ve always wanted to. The whole world-building, interactive story experience sounds like so much fun. Good luck! Enjoy the game!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Wow – thanks! (BTW, I’m looking forward to reading your post about Rey and the Avatar idea. It sounds amazing. I don’t have time until Sunday though – big D&D game tomorrow. 😀 )

    Liked by 1 person

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