Ideas & Advice
Hannah Broadhead – Oil Painting and Processes

Hannah Broadhead – Oil Painting and Processes

I have been asked by Great Art to write this blog in order to share some tips, talk about the materials I use and how they enhance my professional practice.

So, here’s a little intro about myself, my name is Hannah Broadhead I have been a professional artist for a number of years now. Art always been at the forefront in my life even when holding full time jobs. My first sentence was ‘Pen and Paper please’. I picked up oils when I was 13 years old and have never put them down. I also teach workshops and weekly classes as I have trained myself to paint in many styles so I am able to share these with others.

I thought I would use this opportunity to give you an insight on how I create my own work.

Usually, I have an idea formulating for a while before setting anything to canvas, in this case I did a number of charcoals and a small oil study on Arches Oil paper from Great Art, this is a way of getting ideas down quickly and working out what will work and what needs revising. I would recommend this paper as it is the only paper that I have found that oil does not sink in you can still move paint around. It also is a cheaper alternative of working as I can mount easily and post out.

However, let’s get down to my first experience using The Great Art Canvas sets, I ordered these as I have been looking at frames for canvases and was unable to find them as a set until now. I ordered 3 different sizes, however when they arrived, I was over the moon as I wanted a way to create art that was all in house. I can create, mount send to exhibitions/sell all from my studio. I ordered the wood finish as it gives me control over changing the colour to suit the finished painting as framing can make or break a piece.

With all canvases I always gesso the canvas, I like an extra primed canvas so even though these come primed, I always prime again it’s one of my quirks.

Stage 1

I stage photos, in this case myself posing in my studio space. I then print this out for reference so I don’t have to move my gaze very far. I start by drawing either with pencil or burnt umber wash and build up a brief sketch. I know at this point that things will constantly change so I am always shifting the paint around. Over the years I have learnt the art of not getting precious over work, a painting is just a painting if it goes wrong give it up to the art gods and start again it will probably turn out better next time round. Also, I know my paintings will be ugly for most of the time until about the last 20% and then I turn it around and it finally comes together. I am one of life’s messy painters.


Stage 2

Once I have got what I feel is a composition that works I then start to lay just washes of colours, I tend to layer colours introducing some of the colours that might still remain present when final layers are painted.  I tend to work on the background colours before working on the figure so that I am able to get a colour palette working that when I bring in skin tones, they will not clash so it becomes a harmonious painting. I will also be still constantly changing things if they don’t work.

Once I have completed the underpainting, I start to place pure paint on, I only tend to use linseed when I need to enhance certain colours as some paint will naturally dull down.

Due to the nature of these canvas sets I was able to see if the composition worked in the frame. So, I knew at this point this was going to be a good piece. I did this throughout the process, placing in and out of the frame and this was a great experience as I was able to see what it would become, almost like looking into the future.

Stage 3

At this point I am only putting pure paint on, so I am able to start pushing paint around, I am also placing colours that contrast to bring highlights, so in the hair has burnt sienna next to chromium green and the white background is made up of blues and pinks and yellows to give a painterly effect and a glow to the painting. I tend to use subtle versions of certain colours that are opposite on the colour wheel to add depth, white is never just white.

I like to keep brush marks visible; I don’t like to over blend if I do blend, I keep it to the minimum, I like to feel and see the paint moving on the surface. I have in the past used glazes over blended to get a hyper real appearance however I find that I am a messy painter I sometime don’t clean my brushes between colour changes. I embrace this way of painting; it has become an extension of me. I have finally found my style.


Stage 4

Bringing the painting together is where I start to put in the fun details that are now working to create the narrative. Those little details such as my dog in the background, well part of my dog, but look closely and you will find a comic dogs head in the painting so there is a full dog in there. As it is my studio, I have painted the paintings that adorn the walls and all the materials that I use to create.  This is a painting about how I see myself as an artist, how I rely on my paint to make a living. I’m only as good as my paintings so I am standing on a tin and at any moment I could topple (being an artist is a balancing act between commissions and own work)

Final stage

The final stage will be varnishing and placing in the frame at this moment in time it is hanging up and drying. I may just wax the frame I’m still debating.

In conclusion now that I have found these canvas sets, I won’t be using any other canvases as these will be perfect to push my pictures further as I will be able to create and frame myself.


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