Part 4: Exercise 4.3 – a fluid painting


Make a very fluid painting of any subject on the list. Once this has dried, paint or spray with gloss varnish or nail varnish. Use any size, any surface, any media. What effects can you create by applying varnish? Make some notes in your learning log.


I selected to make a painting of a corner of our living room at home. In this specific corner is the source of our main form of heating – a wood burning stove. The charcoal sketch of my painting idea can be found here.

For the painting itself I wanted to continue to experiment with thinned oil paint, although this time I used Reeves painting medium instead of Liquin to see what difference there might be.

Part 4: Exercise 4.3 – fluid painting, first pass

Using a 20x30cm canvas board I prepared a ground of warm brownish acrylic onto which I drew an appropriately sized oval. I contemplated using a grid system to transfer my sketch drawing to the canvas board within the oval format, but instead projected a photograph of the sketch onto the board, mostly to save time. The image was sketched into the oval using an HB pencil prior to painting.

The first thing I noticed was that the painting medium used with the oil paint took a fair bit longer to dry than the Liquin I had been using in the previous exercises.

However, after a couple of days it was dry enough to run a second pass over the painted image:

Part 4: Exercise 4.3 – fluid painting, second pass

In this application of thinned paint I mainly picked out highlights and shadows and to provide additional small detail.

Once dry, the last stage was to add touches of varnish to the image. For this I used a combination of coloured nail varnish and clear picture varnish:

Part 4: Exercise 4.3 – fluid painting with varnish

I think that the addition of the varnish, and in particular the coloured nail varnish brings the image to life a bit more – the blue nail varnish on the stove kind of ‘sings’, and I like it. It’s not what it looks like in reality, but it makes me smile!

Finally, the door handle of the stove in the bottom left corner is maybe tempting you to open the door – do you want to let the fire out?

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
18 April 2017


Part 4: Exercise 4.3 – sketch

Sketch for a fluid painting

Part 4: Exercise 4.3 – sketch in charcoal for a fluid painting in oils

This is the wood burning stove in a corner of our living room. When it is not lit this carved wooden piece sits on top of the stove. I carved this around the time of the opening of the Scottish Parliament in September 2004 and wrote a wee short story (bound in wood) called ‘Connections’, which sits alongside the entwined couple. The story is a bit irreverent and the statue is carved from a piece of recovered 250 years old Caledonian Pine.

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
18 April 2017