His Painting Technique

Many people have marveled at the technical virtuosity in the paintings of contemporary British artist Louis Dodd. In fact, Connoisseur magazine called him "the most gifted artist to come into the marine field in the last 100 years." Because his oil techniques are similar to those employed by the old masters, his paintings have the feel of 18th century masterpieces. In fact, he's been compared to the great Italian painter of Venice Antonio Canal (1679-1768), better known as Canaletto, whose visits to London beginning in 1746 actually influenced the English marine painters of that time. This remarkable panel reveals the many layers of his paintings. Like artists from the past he chose to paint on wood panel, which is finished with several coats of a pure white chalk-based substance called gesso, and then sanded perfectly smooth before painting even begins. To ensure stability, Dodd selected either used panels that are over 100 years old (which are getting more and more difficult to find ), or special plywood which is engineered to be stable. The gessoed panel was then

sealed with a shellac. Dodd then started by priming the surface and laying down a base tonal color before he begins the primary painting and drawing in of the composition. He followed this up by building up thin layers of paint, underpainting them using transparent glazes over each other to get just the right tone and color. He finally would overpaint the detail, and then a final varnish. His paint layers are so thin, and dry so quickly that the often-quoted rule about waiting at least a year before varnishing the painting does not apply. That really refers to a modern technique of painting which often involves very thick layers of paint which take a long time to dry.

The final painting has almost a luminescent quality as a result of this thin painting technique which allows light to pass through it and onto the pure white gesso background where it bounces back out to our eyes making the painting virtually glow from within, a phenomenon we associate with Renaissance paintings.


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