Daniel Canet’s painting style is crisp with brilliant colors. I have found it a difficult thing to paint the appropriate shadows and highlights on a figure to create the vivid contrast I see in his work. I asked Daniel if he would tell me about his painting technique. He sent the following, and I asked for permission to include it on the Flat Tin Figures website.
Here it is:
In the minutes of meetings and competitions organized in the 30s by the “Société des collectionneurs de soldats d’étain” there appeared painting concepts, fine painting and extra fine painting.
The first mainly concerned the large dioramas, although very finely painted parts appear in the foreground of these dioramas as I have seen at the Museum in Kulmbach.
Today I will classify the works into three categories:
The dishes – the light perpendicular to the workpiece crushes all contrasts
Instinctive painting – the direction of the light is oblique, fades are fast, sometimes non-existent; the accuracy is sometimes sacrificed in favor of dynamic rendering. The works of V. Douchkine and horses of Eric Talmant, to name a few, are vibrant examples.
Rigorous painting – the direction of the light is oblique, details are accurate, strong contrasts, gentle fades with all the variants in each categories defined by the preferences of the painter. Not being very instinctive my natural preference is rigorous painting. My dream and my axis of progress are to mix instinct and rigor.
I think to be very readable below the 54mm scale parts must be served by bright colors and strong contrasts, that’s why I’m trying to build mixtures of painting that return a maximum light.
I only use oil colors, my color palette is built over time and exchanges with other painters, also with curiosity, do not hesitate to experiment blends even the most bizarre.
This is how I found a blue Sevres is brighter when I add a little cobalt blue or a green built from a Prussian blue is more bright with permanent yellow medium than with yellow cadmium deep.
The same with permanent madder brown and strong violet keeps its luster if it is clouded with caput mortuum violet when he loses with indigo.
For the same color, the results can be different depending on the brands of paint used .
Example : the red cadmium deep Rembrandt is not the same as the Sennelier (see photo below)
The red that I use most frequently is composed of cadmium red deep Sennelier and cadmium red light Rembrandt in variable proportions according to the needs.
Once the bright colors still asked should we not extinguish by trying to force the contrasts by adding black or white.
White tends to make the colors chalk which is why I use it in three ways:
- on dry paint to put a shine, on armor for example
- when I work a gradient background
- adding a touch of Indian Yellow revives its luster when I work a gradient in the foreground
Black tends to extinguish adjacent colors that is why I use it sparingly to a lineage (see the spear on the picture above) or a deep shadow; in this case I associate it with a shadow diffuses composed with Cassel earth and Neutral tint Sennelier (see quiver below).
Another example of volume created with light and shadow.
As you may have noticed I rarely works with a single pigment out of the tube, I do a lot of color mixtures. This allows to enrich my pallet and more mixtures are spanning and mates. I distort the colors to process the 2nd or 3rd level; for example archer clothes are less luminous than the pikeman on the photo below.
I have not yet spoken of the support; it is obvious that it must be of high quality with precise engraving and a good molding, moreover it should be well prepared with a good deburring and smooth surfaces.
I personally delete all embossment representing heraldic symbols and other decorations, these will be made painting freehand. This will gain precision.
The surfaces are covered with a white coating very thin and very even, it is on this surface that I will ask my final colors in very thin layer. This technique allows to gain in brightness, color layers of subtleties can benefit from transparency of the brightness of the white surface.
I’m on my palette blends incorporating linseed clarified oil demand and the brush tip. I can thus control the smoothness and opacity of my colors. (I do not use thinner, gasoline or white spirit types)
I build my shades on the palette and reports them to the white room without mixing the colors (by juxtaposition) and I then worked fades (see photo below)
I do not hit but I smooth with the same brush of dark to light or vice versa depending on the desired effect, this always with the same brush Winsor and Newton Series 7 3/0 size.
I pull the paint laid parallel to the paint (see arrow in the photo) and not perpendicular or I messed all hues.
As I wrote above I realize freehand symbols and decorations.
To paint the Saint George and the dragon banner below, I made a sketch in very light gray, to define proportrions, then I painted the fabric of the banner without overflowing on the sketch. Then I realised the ending respecting the movement of the fabric.
The few elements of the technique I’ve presented to you are by no means absolute rules but the fruits of my experience. I hope they will help you take even more pleasure in making your works.