Terry Miura • Studio Notes

Thursday, October 27, 2011


A.M., 12 x 16 inches, oil on linen

One of the beautiful things about thick paint oil painting is that it is almost infinitely editable. I say almost because if it gets too thick, surface texture becomes more and more a problem. Or an issue, anyway.

But my paint application usually stay within a manageable range in terms of paint buildup and texture, so I can make changes whether it's still wet or after it's dry.

The painting above is one that will be in my upcoming show Urban Aria at Thomas Reynolds Gallery (Opening reception; Nov 5th, 5 - 7pm).  It says it's 12 x 16 inches, and it is, but it started out a little bit bigger.

Above is the same painting, at an earlier stage. It was 12 x 21 inches and while it had a nice back lit thing going, I felt it was a little too simple (less was not more in this case) and unresolved. So I went back in and worked on the main figure, which led to repainting everything around it because I needed all edges of shapes to be integrated.  In turn, I had to repaint everything else too, for the same reason. 

In essence, I repainted the whole thing over, which seems like a lot of work but it's pretty typical of the process when making changes on top of a dry surface. I brush on a thin coat of Liquin before I make changes on a dried surface and it sort of  makes it feel like I'm painting wet into wet, but not really since there's no interaction between the dried strokes and the wet ones on top. However the coat of Liquin brings back the richness of the darks and brilliance of the colors, which helps me to judge colors and values accurately. This is pretty much what retouch varnish does. I use Liquin instead of retouch varnish because the varnish fumes make me sick.

Here's the detail of the pedestrian. The edges and brushwork are absolutely critical, and there's no way I can get the new layer to look integrated into the dried surface of the painting, so I have to repaint everything. When I point this out to my students when they want to make changes to their already-dry paintings, often I get a groan because they feel its a lot of unnecessary work and they don't want to cover up everything they've already done. Why should they repaint what's already working?  But here again, is the notion of feeling too precious with the painting getting in the way of taking risks.

The plain fact is that if you want the look of wet-into-wet edges, the only way to paint them is wet into wet. And if that means painting the whole thing over, that's what you do. It's just a process. Nothing to groan about.

Oh and while I was reworking this painting, it became clear to me that the left side of the painting wasn't contributing anything to my statement so I took the panel to the table saw and BBZZZZzzzzzz!! Voila! problem solved!


  1. Thanks Terry! and well done-I think adding the car right behind her helped also (although I wouldn't have known you could make an improvement in the first place until you showed it)

  2. I like the composition better in the final version. Good eye. Yes wet on wet needs to be wet! No need to groan, it's just the process. I totally agree. At times it is time consuming, but in the end to achieve the desired results, it's the only way to get there. Striking painting. Well done.