Oil painting techniques and tutorial with Craig Primrose I Colour In Your Life


G’day viewers, my name is Graeme Stevenson and I’d like to invite you to come on a journey of creativity and learning and adventure through the series Colour In Your Life. There’s an artist in every family throughout the world, and lots of times there’s an artist deep down inside all of us as well. So grab your kids, your brothers, your sisters, your aunties, uncles and mums and dads, and come and see how some of the best artists in Australia do what they do. (Music Plays) We’re in the beautiful North Island of New Zealand for this show to see an amazing artist so come along and enjoy the incredible talent New Zealand has to offer. Well g’day viewers and welcome back to Colour In Your Life. Well we’re in Auckland today with a very talented man, Mr. Craig Primrose. Hi Graeme. How are you pal? Welcome to the studio Thank you very much. This is your pre-drafting studio isn’t it? It is, yes, the pre-drafting studio. We’ve got to stay in there and he does all of his pre sketches within this area. But talk about a famous guy, this man – they fly him all over the world to do commissions in various countries with portraits, horses. Now generally I reel this stuff off pretty quickly, but I’ve got through a list of people this man’s painted. It’s unreal. Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Pele. You’re the artist for the All Blacks as well? Well I was a number of years ago but I don’t hold that rank any more. But you’re called the people’s artist in New Zealand? Correct, yeah. It’s amazing. The artist for the America’s Cup Yachting? Yes. God, Colin Meads, All Blacks again. Yes. Sir Peter Black, Pat Rafter, Jack Nicholas and Sir Elton John. Yeah. You’ve painted all these people. But the one I think that stands out to me, which is probably the most iconic hero that New Zealand has got… Yes. Sir Edmund Hillary Sir Edmund Hillary. Just amazing. And you’ve really got to have a close relationship with him. Very close. He was a good mentor… Yeah. …and one of those sort of guys you could sit down and have a cup of tea or a scotch. He loved having a wee drink. He was one of those guys you could just chill out. And I learnt so much from him about, not only Everest but you know you’ve got a pinnacle to climb no matter what career you’ve chosen. Yes. And you just stick at it. Well you’ve become one of the best in the country without a doubt. And without a doubt lot of people throughout the world know who Craig is and obviously commission him to do works as well. But you originally came from an advertising background? Yeah I did. And obviously when the computers came, it’s sort of like what do we do now? Destitute, I was like destitute. So like where do we go? But you’ve become an incredibly successful artist and you can actually see some of the pieces behind us, which are just a magnificent, magnificent skill that you’ve got. But we’ll be seeing a lot of Craig’s work as we go through the show and really, you are going to be astounded at the talent that this guy’s got. Oh you’re very kind. Honestly it really is incredible. But today we’re just going to be working on… seeing as we’re in the drafting room, we’re going to be working on some draft sketches for some of your iconic landscapes. Yes. And I mean you come to New Zealand the country alone is just quite spectacular. It’s stunning. And the country is my office. Yeah. It’s just amazing. We are very fortunate over here. Absolutely you are. But we’re going to start on a pencil sketch today. Yes. And then we are going to build that and you’ve got some pre prepared stuff that we’re going to go through… Yes. Yes that’s Muriwai Beach on the West Coast of the North Island.
Yes. Okay it’s just fantastic. But we’re going to make a start on this and go through the process of how Craig puts some of these together.
Yes. The thing is we’re not… generally you might we able to get through a painting in a show but because Craig’s work is so detailed…
Yes. Yes.
Yes. …and takes so long to do, he’s graciously going to take us through some of his drafting processes to get to these really,
Yes. really magnificent masterpieces. But we’ll make a start on it.
Yes. Sounds great Graeme.
Yes. Lets go for it.
Yes. Okay.
Yes. Okay Craig well you’ve got your sketch there. Now as I said these are draft sketches for some of the bigger
Yes. paintings you do.
Yes. Yes, yes.
Yes. What are you doing with that sketch at the moment?
Yes. Okay well this, as we mentioned earlier, is up at Muriwai Beach, which is on the West Coast of the North Island.
Yes. And so what I’ve done up there is some drawings and they’ve got these trees up there Graeme that are so weather-bound,
Yes. the winds are so strong, these trees grow at acute angles and they’re such, so incredible. So they’re quite an attraction for artists to try and
Yes. capture them.
Yes. Okay.
Yes. So in this particular study that I’ve done, I wanted to bring in a human element so I’ve decided to put a
Yes. young woman with a flying dress into the picture. And behind her I’ve got… I’ve put in a road or a small sort of
Yes. release from the painting.
Yes. Okay.
Yes. So she’s sitting here, standing here I should say, walking to the viewer and behind her I’ve got this well-worn sandy track.
Yes. To me you’ve got to have a release out of a painting. Somewhere you can go.
Yes. Yes.
Yes. So that’s what I’m trying to get through to the viewer here.
Yes. Okay.
Yes. So I’ve now, just working up a little bit more of a detail on how this model is going to look. We’ve got the sun coming
Yes. over her right shoulder, which reflects also on the tree line.
Yes. Okay. So this obviously is about building a good composition isn’t it?
Yes. Absolutely.
Yes. Yeah.
Yes. And you’ve got to think how is the viewer going to look at the painting. And it’s important that I can get that to the viewer.
Yes. Okay, sure. Well you look at your work in any sense and you can see these absolutely magnificent wandering distant,
Yes. What is important for me to show the viewer in the painting.
Yes. perspective landscapes that just, you’re always wondering what’s around the next corner.
Yes. Exactly.
Yes. It’s amazing stuff. It really is.
Yes. And I guess in a way you’re telling a story to the person viewing the painting.
Yes. And that’s part of your philosophy within your work as well.
Yes. Absolutely.
Yes. What’s your mission statement again about your work?
Yes. Well being a peoples artist is really, we’re all on this planet or Earth for fifty, eighty maybe ninety years.
Yes. Yeah.
Yes. And each footstep that we do is part of our history. And we walk the land and no matter what country we’re
Yes. in but we’re creating history. And those footsteps are what I’m trying to put into the paintings.
Yes. So from this sketch here…
Yes. Yes.
Yes. What, you’re going to make up some coloured drafts?
Yes. What I’ll do is this, I hope, will end up being quite a large painting. So what we’re going to do very soon is I’m going to actually show you a
Yes. working-painting.
Yes. Okay.
Yes. Now these paintings are a lot smaller and this is what I do in this room, is just to start to get a feel for what I’m about to create.
Yes. And it starts here.
Yes. It’s just fantastic. The thing about Craig’s work is there really is a history of building the idea.
Yes. It’s not a matter of just going and saying I’m going to splat some paint down. Which is what a lot of beginner artists think
Yes. well if I just start here it will work out. It’s studying the subject.
Yes. Well for some artists it works really well.
Yes. Yeah.
Yes. But for me I’m drawn into the painting. If I don’t have that natural draw-in I just won’t paint it.
Yes. Yeah.
Yes. It’s not my, no I don’t say it’s not worth my time, but it’s not worth putting on a wall for somebody to view it.
Yes. Sure. Well let’s make a start on these paintings.
Yes. Sure.
Yes. You’ve got a few there that we’re going to go through and draft up and just recreate this fantastic sketch here in another study…
Yes. Okay.
Yes. Yes. Fantastic, lets go and do it. Excellent.
Alright well what we’ll do now is we are going to put down the background base of the sky. And that will start formulating the colour.
Yes. Yes.
Fantastic, lets go and do it. Excellent. For a while you go through the process early on in your career where you do try out different products.
Yes.
Fantastic, lets go and do it. Excellent. Yes.
For a while you go through the process early on in your career where you do try out different products.
I can see that you use Schminke colours. Why do you use that particular paint?
Yes.
For a while you go through the process early on in your career where you do try out different products. And for me Norma the Schminke oils I find for what I do are perfect. Nice flow on, good pigment ranges in their colours, and they last.
Yes. Now Graeme, if you wouldn’t mind can you pass over the Schminke Rapid Medium please.
Yes. Rapid Medium’s, so that’s the first time I’ve seen Rapid medium. So how do you apply this with your work?
Yes. Rapid gives me that, it’s a great product. It means I can thin the paint down to whatever volume I find comfortable with.
Yes. Okay.
Yes. Yes. It does. In a matter of four or five hours it will be touch dry.
Yes. Oh that’s fantastic.
Yes. The following day we’re dry enough for me to carry on with the painting.
Yes. Fantastic, alright well there you go.
Yes. Thank you. Now just my trusty old little pot.
Yes. So I was just looking at that pot; looks like it’s had a lot of something in it.
Yes. There’s been a lot of paintings out of this one pot. We have to get ourselves a new pot very soon.
Yes. It’s just full.
Yes. It is full. We’re almost overflowing. So all I really do is just dip the brush into the Rapid.
Yes. Yeah.
Yes. Yes. Yeah. So you really don’t need a lot at all.
Yes. No you don’t. Just a little touch. See I’m getting this really nice, now I’m going to add a little bit of Naples Yellow.
Yes. Yeah.
Yes. So this, already in my eyes, I’m starting to see that sea salt haziness.
Yes. Okay.
Yes. And that such an important part about it. The concept of the imagination…
Yes. Yeah.
Yes. …and how you put it together from here to there.
Yes. Yeah.
Yes. It’s all brain to hand.
Yes. Yes.
Yes. So we’re going to go mid stream with the painting. I hope you’re not going to end up with spots on your…
Yes. No you’ll be right mate.
Yes. …on your fine…
Yes. On my fine linen?
Yes. Your fine linen. Now this is actually quite thick and I do this for a reason. That means I can actually work with the colours.
Yes. Right now I’m going to just start adding a little bit more of my Naples Yellow, a little bit more of magenta.
Yes. I want to give it a little bit of colour, a bit of strength.
Yes. Just slowly building it up?
Yes. Just slowly, slowly building it up. I don’t know whether or not the viewers can see the change
Yes. of the colour but from where I’m standing and obviously where Graeme’s sitting we’re a little bit more aware of
Yes. the subtleties that are coming through. And this is why it takes so long, because it is a lengthy process.
Yes. I’m just going to start adding a little bit of Sienna Brown for the base of this.
Yes. What I’m going to need to do here Graeme is just add a little bit of green. You only need a little bit of this.
Yes. Chromium Oxide or something.
Yes. It is. Well spotted, well noticed to another.
Yes. There you go.
Yes. You can see it’s quite opaque which is what I need at the moment – a good base.
Yes. So once you know, built this draft, this study up…
Yes. Yes.
Yes. Do you simply sit and look at it or do you make notes and…
Yes. No. No, its all instinct now.
Yes. Okay.
Yes. Trial and error as I’m sure that you know, you’ve gone through the same process.
Yes. And artists watching this now would understand.
Yes. Yeah.
Yes. Now the job is to start putting the blue in.
Yes. Okay.
Yes. So I’m going to go for a very light blue and mix it in with a little bit of the magenta and the white that we mixed earlier.
Yes. So we’re going up from the top of the board, nice long flowing strokes.
Yes. Hm, look at that.
Yes. Now because I created or mixed a lot of white in what I was doing earlier, it means then that this is going to blend.
Yes. Okay. And obviously when you put that base white down it makes it so much easier.
Yes. Oh yes and look at that, that’s just flowing on beautifully.
Yes. There’s a great technique. Make sure you put your white down first.
Yes. Yes. Now what I’m doing is feathering. Now feathering is a technique that was, has been around for centuries.
Yes. And it’s just, you’re just drying excess oil off your brush and you’re just ever so lightly touching your board.
Yes. What I’m doing is just mixing the paint, the top layer with the bottom layer.
Yes. Yeah.
Yes. I’ve traveled New Zealand, the whole breadth of it. From the South Island to the North Island and when I do travel
Yes. I’m probably away for you know, a couple of months. You know just sourcing out new paintings, new subjects.
Yes. I’ve been right down the bottom part of the South Island of Kent and really got a feel for the area.
Yes. One of my favorite areas down there is a place called Matukituki, which is just north-east of Wanaka.
Yes. Mount Aspiring is one of the most grandeur mountains down there in Matukituki. It sits at the base.
Yes. Ah.
Yes. So there’s a lot of waterfalls, rivers…
Yes. Yeah.
Yes. Oh absolutely it’s a magnificent area and I’ve traveled down there obviously the last time we were here.
Yeah.
Yes. Yes.
Oh absolutely it’s a magnificent area and I’ve traveled down there obviously the last time we were here.
…streams, you name it. For a traditional landscape artist it’s like paradise.
Yes.
Oh absolutely it’s a magnificent area and I’ve traveled down there obviously the last time we were here. But the grandeur of the mountains and the beauty and the air itself. It’s just fantastic. And even the light – when you get down there.
Yes. It’s so different to what it is up in the North Island.
Yes. Yeah it’s amazing. And you’ve been commissioned to do one of the big lodges down there at one stage as well?
Yes. Yes, that’s right.
Yes. Which has turned out your work sells from $6,000 to up to $100,000. You know that’s the caliber of artist you are.
Yes. But you know people fly you down to these locations and you stay there and say paint this beauty for me. It’s amazing.
Yes. It is. You got to pinch yourself.
Yes. Yeah.
Yes. I mean I remember sitting down at Matukituki, probably about eight years ago I was really engrossed in doing a painting on sight.
Yes. And I really pinched myself, I thought ‘this is my office, this is what I do for a living’.
Yes. Yeah.
Yes. How fortunate can one human being be?
Yes. Yeah.
Yes. It really is unique.
Yes. And that is what art does. It basically feeds the soul.
Yes. It does. Yeah, constantly. Yeah.
Yes. Alright bud, this is actually just the lay down for the next stage. And obviously Craig has put a couple of pieces together
Yes. for us to be able to do this. So the next one is, because it takes a while to dry.
Yes. It does. This will take a good day for it to dry so we’re going to change this over with something I worked on a couple of days ago.
Yes. And there you go, you can actually see the scene starting to develop from the sketch to where it is now.
Yes. And it’s quite a simple technique but it’s just that you’ve really mastered the movement in these trees.
Yes. Yeah. I don’t like stuff being too difficult.
Yes. Sure, sure.
Yes. You know, if it’s too difficult you lose that free flow and the creativity from the brain to the hand.
Yes. Okay
Yes. If you start this is one thing if I can tell your viewers or budding artists, that don’t overwork your paintings.
Yes. It’s very easy to do it at times.
Yes. Sure.
Yes. You think I’m going to make it a bit better, I can make it better, and what about if I do this.
Yes. And unfortunately when you start doing that, you overwork it. And you destroy something, you destroy that creative empowerment
Yes. that you’ve chucked onto the linen. So put it down if you think you’re going to do something else on to it, put it down
Yes. and walk away do something else.
Yes. That sounds fantastic.
Yes. So simple is right, simple is good.
Yes. Keep it simple.
Yes. Yeah. Absolutely.
Yes. So where do we go from here?
Yes. Okay so what I’ve done here, started to is just rough in the tree line. Now I’ve been using greens, reds, magentas,
Yes. because I like to get a little bit of colour. It’s just not about black and green trees.
Yes. Trees aren’t actually brown, black and green. There’s a variant of other colours that come into it and
Yes. I guess artists like to go this, they like to add colour because it adds to the mystique of artist’s eye.
Yes. So if you can get that down onto your canvas, people may not see it but its there.
Yes. What we’re going to now is get a little bit more of the darks into the tree line and what I like to do is actually
So if you can get that down onto your canvas, people may not see it but its there.
Yes. Yes.
What we’re going to now is get a little bit more of the darks into the tree line and what I like to do is actually
Sure. Okay.
Yes.
What we’re going to now is get a little bit more of the darks into the tree line and what I like to do is actually to start to introduce some more of the branches I’ve got showing around this very sort of beach rugged trees.
Yes. Sure.
Yes. Now what I need is my third arm.
Yes. Your mahl stick?
Yes. My mahl stick.
Yes. Yeah, and you’ve got a few of them around too.
Yes. We do. They where invented hundreds and hundreds of years ago. I always refer to them as the third arm because it lifts my hand
Yes. off the painting. So if you’re perspiring, if its hot or your dry, you’re not going to leave finger prints onto the canvas so
Yes. what I need now here is a lovely fine tip on the end of the brush, and it’s now just a matter of working.
Yes. You get up close to Craig’s work and it’s so fine. I mean somebody will put branches into a tree and think that’s
Yes. enough but you actually stick every single branch that’s in the tree there.
Yes. Well pretty close I don’t actually go outside and count them but…
Yes. Close.
Yes. Yeah we’re close to it.
Yes. And apart from specializing in landscapes, I mean a lot of commissions that you do, you do equine…
Yes. …a lot of the horses…
And apart from specializing in landscapes, I mean a lot of commissions that you do, you do equine…
Yes. Yes.
I do love commissions. It’s a challenge.
Yes.
And apart from specializing in landscapes, I mean a lot of commissions that you do, you do equine…
Yes. Which is just fantastic. And the basis of what you do is, you love commissions?
And apart from specializing in landscapes, I mean a lot of commissions that you do, you do equine…
Yes. I do love commissions. It’s a challenge.
And apart from specializing in landscapes, I mean a lot of commissions that you do, you do equine…
Yes. Yes.
Yes.
I do love commissions. It’s a challenge. Yeah, fantastic that you can work with all these different animals and people.
Yes. Yeah.
Yes. And create these beautiful paintings.
Yes. Yeah.
Yes. That’s fantastic.
Yes. It’s a relationship with that you build up a lot of trust comes in to it and people find they can trust you and believe
Yes. that you’re a good soul and you’re true to your gift.
Yes. Yeah. That’s the main thing.
Yes. It is yeah, and that’s what makes it special.
Yes. Obviously you refer back to your sketches a lot. How about photographs as well?
Yes. Yes. I do a lot of photography and even a bit of video footage. Because it gives you a sense of depth of field.
Yes. Yeah.
Yes. Yes. require but the painting will not look like the photograph…
Yes. Sure.
Yes. …because you embellish…
Yes. Of course yeah.
Yes. …certain elements of it. And that just comes with just practice and knowing.
Yes. And even the way that you paint, it’s quite mesmerizing to the extent that, because there’s so much detail actually in there.
Yes. It’s a very, like a cathartic experience you sort of drift away – more like a meditation.
Yes. Yeah it is you get just the joy of being able to paint is…
Yes. Yeah.
Yes. …therapeutic. I mean you do feel at the end of the day I’m pretty worn out. You know I paint nine hours a day you know,
Yes. at the end of it you start to feel tired. Earlier on, years ago I’d be still be painting until one in the morning.
Yes. I can’t find I can do it any more.
Yes. Yeah.
Yes. But I guess with doing this for so many years now you know your limitations. And you know where the power of the day is,
Yes. you’re going to get the most out of your painting. And that’s just living in your own skin I guess.
Yes. I don’t know about you but I find now and then if I’m struggling with a painting I’ll pick it up and I’ll look at the
Yes. image through a mirror, so it gives you a complete reverse of what you’re doing.
Yes. Yeah. Great idea.
Yes. And it actually does help with balance. And you can pick out the flaws and on that odd occasion you can go ‘wow,
Yes. I nailed it’.
Yes. Yeah. That’s fantastic.
Yes. So that’s really cool. Yeah little bits of things like that help.
Yes. I’ve noticed mirrors scattered around your studio and drafting office.
Yes. Yeah.
Yes. Alright we’re going to let Craig finish up on this one now. But because of the beauty of television as you can see,
Yes. Craig has taken these progressive shots as we’ve gone, so that you can see the finished product, which is obviously quite amazing.
Yes. Yes. Thank you for coming all the way over to see me.
Yes. It was a pleasure.
Yes. It wasn’t just me, there was a group of other artists.
Yes. Admittedly.
Yes. Yeah.
Yes. Mr. Craig Primrose – without a doubt one of the most talented people in New Zealand. I mean an incredibly talented guy.
Yes. Oh thank you, thank you.
Yes. And we’ve just switched from the finished process of what Craig was doing to really show you why people all over the world
Yes. commission this man to do what he does. You can just see this is a painting of Sir Edmund Hillary.
Yes. Yeah.
Yes. And it’s actually signed as well because you guys were good friends weren’t you?
Yes. Good mates, yeah.
Yes. So as I said mate, absolutely fantastic.
Yes. Thank you so much Graeme.
Yes. It’s been an absolute pleasure. Now if people want to track you down, all over the world, what is your website?
Yes. craigprimrose.com.
Yes. There you go guys. Come on in because you’ll go into this website and go oh my God, it’s incredible.
Yes. I hope to get some of your work into our website as well, which is colourinyurlife.com.au. And also come and see us on
Yes. Facebook as well. But we’re having a great time in New Zealand with some
Yes. amazingly talented human beings. But until we meet again guys, remember always make sure you Put Some Colour In Your Life.
Yes. See you next time guys.
Yes. Bye.
Yes. Bye now. Bye.
Yes. Yes. …on how, these trees for a start are fantastic looking trees. It’s got to be down the beach somewhere is it?

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