Landscape oil painting techniques
Karl Dempwolf, "In the Distance Santa Clarita," oil, 24 x 36 in.

Today we welcome artist Karl Dempwolf as our guest with an exclusive Q&A about painting en plein air, his color palette, and his advice for those new to painting with oil.

From his website, we learn that “Dempwolf spent his childhood growing up in the picturesque Bavarian countryside but at the age of fourteen he and his family immigrated to the US on the Steamship America. Dempwolf received his BA from California State University Northridge, where he will always be recognized as that institution’s first All American Athlete.”

Q&A with Karl Dempwolf

Cherie Dawn Haas: Why do you choose to paint en plein air? Do you also do studio work?
Karl Dempwolf: I paint both in the studio and en plein air. I love plein air; sitting in nature and in Creation is uplifting. It makes me feel part of it all. Even if my plein air work turns out dismal, it will have been a rewarding experience. In the studio it is all labor, hard work, experimentation, and often failures, buy not so when painting en plein air.

Landscape oil painting techniques
A recent landscape oil painting

CDH: Can you tell us about one of your recent paintings? What was your inspiration, or what were some challenges you experienced, for example?
KD: Always a hard subject and not much easier in paint. This is typical in nature — the old dead trunks decomposing giving new life and nourishment to new growth. I was hoping that there would be enough interests in the piece other than the obvious decay of the old that would distract the viewer from concentrating on the life cycle of every living thing.

Landscape oil painting techniques
Karl Dempwolf, “Harmonious Wilderness,” oil on linen on wood panel, 38 x 36 in.

CDH: If someone were new to painting with oil (plein air or studio), what’s the first thing you would tell them?
KD: I would ask the person how long have they been interested in painting. If the answer was ‘yesterday,’ I would ask what kind of art they are interested in — contemporary, abstract, or traditional. If they need help with that, we would really have to start with basics.
If, on the other hand, they have been sketching or trying to paint without much success, I would say join a local art group, like the California Art Club — go out and paint with others, join a community of fellow artists to get involved. Once you have done that and are serious about getting better at painting, take some classes from someone who knows how to teach.

Landscape oil painting techniques
Karl Dempwolf, “The Masters Bench,” oil on canvas, 14 x 18 in.

CDH: Please tell us about your color palette.
KD: My color palette is not minimalist as Anders Zorn’s was, using only white, black, yellow ocher, and red. Mine is extensive. I add to it and experiment with new colors and suggest that those new to painting in oil do so as well, since one of the joys of painting is finding colors that excite, colors that give your paintings that extra zing.

Stay tuned! You’ll be able to learn how to paint landscapes with oil in Karl Dempwolf’s upcoming Streamline video workshop.

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  1. Karl Dempwolf’s paintings have made him one of my very favorite artists ever — The strength of his brushstrokes and his chiseling away at the scene like the supreme visual editor that he is until all is stunningly illuminated is astonishing. To me, his art has always reminded me of my favorite artist since college days — Cezanne. I am thrilled to see that Karl Dempwolf continues to receive the attention that is his due — with videos, articles and books that will broaden the reach to all the more artists and art devotees who will be inspired by the treasures with which he has gifted the world.

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