Bill was an innovator. He enhanced wet-on-wet oil painting with Magic White™. With it, Bill would change, forever, how artists created their paintings.
In its purest form Magic White™ was a combination of paint, oil, and solvents. These ingredients and a few others create the slick under-surface for Bill’s paintings. Bill’s original intention was to use Magic White™ to mix colors on the canvas. There were other benefits as well.
When Bill created his skies, Magic White™ helped him create the illusion of clouds. He would, as Alexander Master Artist Tom Anderson says, “scrumble” his sky color. (“Scrumble” is a term Tom’s students created. It means a combination of scrubbing and jumbling the paint on the canvas.) Bill would vary the pressure on the brush as he painted in his sky. He would create “pockets” of white within his sky color that would look like distant clouds.
Bill would also create the illusion of depth as he painted down the canvas toward the horizon. He was able to create depth in his paintings by lessening the pressure on his brush. This allowed the Magic White to blend with his sky color and lighten as he approached the horizon. Bill could lay in the basic structure of his painting in a matter of minutes. Bill was able to create stunning skyscapes because of his mastery of this medium.
Bill also created a black medium which allowed him to emphasize highlights. Bill was a master of light. His mastery of chiaroscuro equaled that of Rembrandt and other “Old Masters”.
How do you take such a versatile product and make it better? You’d think it would start with the paint, but you’d be wrong. It starts at a much more basic level – at the level of the artist.
Thick paint the key to mastery
Bill always talked about his rich, thick paint being the key to mastery of his method of oil painting. Why was thick paint so important? While it’s possible to thicken your paint, it’s not easy to do while painting. But, you can make it thinner. Bill did that all the time in his videos. He was always adding Magic White™ to his other colors. This made his paints thinner so he could highlight with those colors. A thick paint is much more adaptable during painting.
In the 1980’s Alexander Art developed a new “soft white” for floral painting. Alexander Art sold three different types of white paint in three different thicknesses. A couple of years ago, we began to think about whether we needed that many white paints. Bill’s method of oil painting was always affordable. You only need a small number of colors and few brushes to create stunning artwork.
If you sell art supplies, we suppose it makes sense to sell lots of colors and many different kinds of brushes . Too many colors and brushes, though, are confusing to new artists and expensive to all artists. We felt the first place to start, then, was with our existing line of paint. We asked ourselves, “Could we streamline it?”
Next Week: Streamline and Innovate!