Oil Painting Methods You’ll Love from Julie Heffernan
I know I’ve talked about Julie Heffernan’s out-of-the-box conceptual acuity and dynamic oil painting methods in another post, but I just cannot stop there. Here are a few more ways of working that I’ve gleaned from studying her oil paintings.
A piece of fruit, a flower, decorative plates, climbing ropes — Heffernan has a unique use for them all. What I like especially about the still life elements in her work is how she turns non-still life elements like castles or manicured gardens into “still life” just as easily as Old-Master fare.
The more complex the pattern, the harder it is to detect. The patterns Heffernan uses — with color, form and rhythm — make for complex yet unified final products.
Natural elements aren’t just set design or background in Heffernan’s work. She uses reams of sod like the skirts of a ballroom gown. Plant tendrils, flowers and fruits morph into otherworldly landscape elements of their own.
Most of all, Heffernan doesn’t allow the expectations we all have about what “nature” is — what it looks like, how it grows, its colors — to dictate how she presents nature. This is a strong sign of how well-crafted her concepts are.
The Power Behind Practice
After spending a lot of time looking at Heffernan’s work I was sort of struck by how her art would have been received if she’d been working four centuries ago in the heyday of the Mannerist period and into the Baroque. No doubt she would have given the whole scene a run for its money.
One of the most noteworthy aspects of Heffernan’s work is how it supports the idea that oil painting is not just about paint application. It is also about utilizing a set of painting practices refined for centuries by thousands of artists.
Accomplished artists all start by learning everything there is to know about these methods. To put myself on that road, I know I need to develop a strong foundation in technical practice and conceptual development. That’s where a subscription to art magazines and publications, such as The Artist’s Magazine, can be an asset.
Studying the artists and the methods featured in magazines like this one show how to turn painting into an art with technical and compositional approaches. Empowered, expressive artists like Heffernan are what we all strive to be — and these resources of instruction can be your art school-in-one.