Brian Mooney's Painting techniques


I work in 3 media, oil, watercolour and egg tempera, and paint a great variety of subjects, including landscapes, portraits and bush dances/pub scenes. My inspiration comes from the beauty of the bush and wilderness in Australia; I see a particular scene which stimulates my imagination, and I feel that I must capture it in my painting. I usually work a number of times at a particular site, and then, when I feel that I have captured the feel of the place, finally work at home, allowing my imagination and memory to help me complete the picture. Some more specific details of my techniques are described below:


Egg Tempera:

This was the main medium before the invention of oils in the 1500s and unlike some oils, will keep its quality forever. I like painting in this medium as I have observed that the final painting has a rich translucent quality, with very vibrant and well-defined colours.

Lately, I have found that Clay-board is very sympathetic to the handling of egg tempera and I would enthusiastically recommend it to any painter working in this medium. Initially, I draw up most of the picture in pencil and then go over the outlines in watered-down Indian ink. Then I erase the pencil, leaving the Indian ink drawing, after which I cover the board in a series of broad washes. Finally I work up in great detail with a series of small brushes. When the painting has been dried 8 months to a year, I give it coat of Damar varnish. Cennim, the great painter who lived in the 1500s, recommended leaving a painting for several years before varnishing. However, this is hardly practical in this day and age, and most painters consider that approximately one year is sufficient.



My approach to oil painting is really very simple. If I am doing a landscape, I draw broadly, and cover the pencil/charcoal drawing with a thin paint mixed with turps. When this is dry, I apply a thin coating of general colours, and when this is tacky or dry, I start to work up the painting in depth with series of glazes, thick impasto, wherever needed.



Again, like oils, my approach to watercolour painting is simple. I prefer to work on Archers paper, rough or smooth. I draw up the subject broadly in pencil, then go over it broadly with watered down colour. When this is dry, I erase the pencil and start working up the whole painting in a series of glazes. About half an hour before I start painting, I soak the whole page in pure water, and allow it to dry. This will ensure that any wash put down after will soak right in to the paper.