Magnolia, Overexposed: Sight Exercise for Oil Painting

This post is the sixth in a series of oil painting project tutorials derived from coursework completed at Academie Noord in Brasschaat, Belgium. Projects were designed by Schilderkunst teacher Marilou van Lierop. The sample artwork is my own.


In previous coursework, students were challenged to paint “away” from the photograph. In this project, we were asked to do the exact opposite.

Our teacher, Marilou van Lierop, asked us each to find and overexposed photograph. We were to paint it as it was, resisting the urge to add in details that weren’t visible but that we knew were there. We were to paint only what we saw.

I chose a magnolia branch. It was just the time of year, as they’d started blooming early… Unfortunately we lost them to a late frost.



Project: Paint an Overexposed Image

Skills Exercised: Imprimatura, Wipeout Method of Underpainting, Painting Wet on Wet, Painting in Value Gradations, Dry Brush, Impasto

MaterialsWater-Mixable Oil Paints, Water, Water Mixable Linseed Oil, Paint Brushes, Canvas/Canvas Paper/primed wood panel


The Palette

In this class, we use water mixable oil paints and mediums. Not only are they better for the environment (water is used as a solvent), they’re also much better for our health in a crowded classroom (less toxic fumes).

My painter’s box includes the following Winsor & Newton Water Mixable Oil Colours, as suggested by my painting teacher. Other brands may work just as well, but I haven’t tried them myself. All additional colors are either mixed on the palette or created through glazing onto the painting.

  • Yellow Ochre
  • Cadmium Yellow Pale Hue
  • Burnt Umber
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Permanent Alizarin Crimson
  • Cadmium Red Hue
  • Cerulean Blue
  • French Ultramarine
  • Viridian
  • Titanium White

I also use a bottle of Winsor & Newton Artisan Water Mixable Linseed Oil



The Method

At this point of the course, we were left to build the painting on our own, following a process that worked best for each of us. I followed the method used in previous lessonsMarilou van Lierop, noticing my tendency to linger on an artwork, adding several layers to create the finished product, encouraged me to leave this one bare. You can see areas where the imprimatura shows through as well as the quick handling of the paint in the details below.


Magnolia Overexposed, Oil Painting on Canvas, original artwork by R. Palesca, 2016


Magnolia Overexposed, Detail, Oil Painting on Canvas, original artwork by R. Palesca, 2016


Magnolia Overexposed, Detail, Oil Painting on Canvas, original artwork by R. Palesca, 2016