What a Roux Has to Do with Youx

12 Dec 2012

Our youngest daughter, Tired of Being Youngest, recently started culinary school, which means that we're eating a lot better these days. It's not so much that she's doing a lot of experimenting on us -- most nights she's home late and doing book homework -- but on weekends she creates, and I watch. Then, during the week, I copy.

We don't have to look gentle and patient to exhibit some of these characteristics. Queen Anne's Lace by Steve Henderson.

We don't have to look gentle and patient to exhibit some of these
characteristics. Queen Anne's Lace by Steve Henderson.

This last week I made roux (pronounced "roo," like the Winnie the Pooh character) -- a flour/butter concoction that you gently and patiently stir over low heat until it turns nutty brown. Added to soup, it transforms lunch into something decadently divine.

Now I've known about roux for years but never made it -- that "gently and patiently" part always tripped me up. But it wasn't until I tasted what it does to tomato soup, thanks to one of those weekend practice sessions of our daughter's, that I realized what I've been missing all these years. Surely, I could be gentle and patient for 15 minutes.

That's soup. What about oil painting?

I'm willing to bet that there's a product or oil painting art technique or method that has been kicking around in the back of your mind for years, but you haven't tried it because of, well, that "gentle and patient" part.

"It can't make that much of a difference" you tell yourself, and don't do it again.

You may be right -- it might not make much of a difference at all. Or, you may be missing out on something -- like a truly delectable, complex tomato soup -- and not know it.

Why not give it a try? Go ahead -- doux it. What's that fine art oil painting process you have a feeling could enhance your process? Leave me a comment and let me know, and then go do it and report back!



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peckane9 wrote
on 13 Dec 2012 8:16 AM

Remembering to neutralize my colors often trips me up and leaves my paintings with a Disneyesque/cartoonish quality.  Why do I forget--lack of patience.  My best work happens when I take a deep breath and slow down.


on 13 Dec 2012 9:03 AM

Love this article, thanks. I am currently in the process of painting this way...that is being more patient with my work. That gentle part sort of happened as the painting progressed. Finished my latest work and really pleased that I'm on my way towards the goal that's been buging me for 8 years!. Always loved the way Albert Bierstadt painted, love the more subtle colors and softer edges. Not good at explaining my process, but I I have a deep passion for painting and drawing....Love all the A.D articles....again, thank you so much, I've learned so much from reading these.

Julia Watson wrote
on 15 Dec 2012 8:18 AM

One kind of "roux" for artists is underpainting. I first learned it in watercolors, which are naturally transparent, but now I sometimes use it in oils. First paint blue or purple to define the darks and get relative values established, then paint over with transparent color. You can get beautiful effects this way, especially if you're patient.

wilybrad wrote
on 15 Dec 2012 10:06 AM

Doing a small 4x6 or less color poster study helps make decisions such as background color, what mix for flesh and shadows, ec..The few minutes it take to do them saves a lot of time when you go to the canvas or paper..

margaretay wrote
on 15 Dec 2012 10:37 AM

Seeing my rags as a tool rather than something to erase a "mistake" has really changed my work this year.  Often a wipe out reveals the exact color or effect that I was going for.

on 15 Dec 2012 11:30 AM

I have been taking more time building up my oil paintings with glazes. This requires much patience since each glaze has to dry before applying the next one. It's a great way to learn to think ahead because the final color is determined by the application of several different color glazes, i.e. laying yellows over blues to get greens.

KatPaints wrote
on 16 Dec 2012 5:34 PM

Thanks Carolyn, I can always relate to your posts. My mother made Roux and I totally forgot about it. I'd really like to experiment with high key paintings.