What happens when you come across a painting that suddenly seems to look unusual and arresting at the same time? Your heart skips a beat and you tend to take a closer and longer look. You know it is a landscape but there is more to that. A few minutes later, you are in love with its colors, depth, texture, story and strokes.
This happened to me when I chanced upon Bernard De Wolff’s portfolio of sand textured oil paintings that ranged from landscapes, figurative, abstract, nudes, cityscapes and more. His unifying thread was sand mixed with oil colors, giving rise to sensual and touches-me kind of textures.
Bernard’s method is simple. Oil + sand + canvas = magic
Having gone crazy over his portfolio, I had the wonderful opportunity to interact with him and discuss his works. The more he told spoke about the sand in oils, the more intrigued I grew.
I was plagued by doubts over this technique. It was hard for me to think of holding up a heavy medium such as sand with oils alone. What if the sand falls down? How can a stretched canvas hold the weight? What happens after it dries? Does it have a shortened life span? And more…
But Bernard has been kind and patient all along. As much as he explained, he urged me to try. To try what he has mastered and to see how it really works. Deep inside the doubt, I was convinced that it was possible. That sand adds not only its weight and texture, but also its strength and soul to the painting. But I had to try it myself.
And so was born this little landscape with some sand, lot of oils, heart-pounding doubts and hopeful convictions.
Mixed Media on Canvas Panel
12” x 16”
Brushes were wasted, knives were abandoned and hands were put to a good use – to feel and to convey. It was one the most memorable experiences I’ve had. The thrill of trying this sand painting technique, mixing of sand and oils, seeing the unique texture imparted on canvas, has been great. . The colors transform into interesting shades because of the sand. The texture is totally new and the depth is surprising. The painting urges you to touch it, with eyes and fingers. You cant help but feel the itch to touch the grainy surface.
How to paint with sand and oils on canvas:
- It can be quite messy to work with this at the beginning, until you get the hang of mixing and applying this fascinating media.
- Having got over the euphoria and goosebumps, sieve the sand if you want a fine and even texture on the canvas.
- Mix sand into the oil colors on the palette. I later realized that pouring sand on oils, directly on canvas helped me spread the mixture better and gave me a better control of the texture and effect that I wanted.
- If you need to add more color in specific areas, apply the oils directly onto the canvas. The colors stand out on the background of texture.
- I could not have imagined sand being stuck to the canvas, without a fixative. But it does. Yes Bernard, it works.
- The painting itself becomes very heavy with this texture. The entire weight increases in proportion to its size.
- I don’t think these canvases can be rolled at all. Im have not tried it.
- The paint mixture remains gooey for many days on the canvas. As a large quantity of oils is used, it takes a very (very very very) long time to dry. The canvas panel on which I attempted this landscape is still drying.
Sand textured painting in acrylic media
You can follow the same procedure with acrylic paints but I did not attempt it as I cannot feel acrylic as much as oils. But for beginners, I guess it would be the best media to experiment with. So let me know how you did it.
Thank you Bernard for urging me to take the plunge… for things are not the same anymore. Now, these paints speak a different language. They are no longer the delicate wisps of colors that I knew all along. These paints are now the muscle of the painting.
And for those who want to see what his paintings are like, please click here for Bernard de Wolff stunning creations in sand and oils.