The wet-into-wet oil painting technique yields great results if done correctly. Follow Rob Rey’s workshop as he achieves this distinctive look in a stellar piece of art
Talented traditional artist Rob Rey gives us an insight into how he creates textured works of art in oils.
Alla prima, or wet-intowet painting, is a technique that I’ve long admired. A single layer of thick paint can create a beautiful, buttery effect on the canvas, while multiple layers of built-up paint texture tend to look crunchier and rougher.
Unfortunately, my paintings almost always take several days to complete. Of course, the paint never stays wet that long, which makes achieving that buttery look difficult. Primarily for this reason, my process is heavy on planning and preliminary work. In addition to familiarising myself with the anatomy and forms I’m about to paint, working out the colours and other details of my final image ahead of time helps me to move quickly.
More importantly, this enables me to finish one wet section at a time, already knowing how all the different sections will work together. The result is a painting with the fresh look of alla prima, but the complexity, accuracy and detail of that comes with several days of work.
This painting is part of my Stardust series, a visual representation of the fact that many of the atoms which make up our bodies and everything around us were once created by early stars, whose exploded remains formed new generations of stars, including our own Solar System, the Earth, and everything on it. If you think about it, we’re literally made up of the remnants of stars!
Painting stars has created some interesting challenges for me. Neither the soft gas clouds of space nor the short gradients of starlight easily lend themselves to the bold, chunky brushwork that I like most, but I find ways to enable these elements to coexist in my work. With this piece I’ll guide you through the multiple planning stages that inform my final painting, my sectional painting process, and how I handle the delicate details of starlight.
Rob’s foremost passion is for learning about the world, and this pursuit often influences his painted work. He strives to make paintings that are not only beautiful, but thought-provoking as well. You can explore Rob’s art by visiting www.robreyart.com