Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Whipping out an oil painting

I thought I knew what I was getting into when I signed up for a Community Education Oil Painting class for beginners and intermediates.
I took a lot of art classes in high school, majored in art and communications in college and have always enjoyed art.
I thought, how hard can it be? Sure, I've never worked in oil but my son-in-law does beautiful work in the medium and he makes it look easy.
I picked out a picture, bought the paints and medium and brushes listed on the class supply list and headed out.
My first clue that perhaps I was in over my head came when I noticed that most of the people around me were planning to paint the apple and the orange and the banana on the table.
One lady was painting a vase.
I showed the teacher my picture, a landscape picture of two moose wading through a beautiful mountain lake with reflections in the water, trees on both sides and gorgeous, rugged mountains providing the backdrop.
She did a double take.
"Well," she said, "That's ambitious."
I plowed ahead.
First, we had to tone the canvas. I whipped out my Burnt Sienna and painted. Then I whipped out my rags and wiped it down. Even after serious wiping, my canvas was now a bright orange.
I came back the next week and tried painting the sky using a blue paint my teacher later told me was better suited to abstract and modernistic studies.
My teacher helped me tone it down.
Then I tried the water and again, the blue I'd chosen was way too bright.
Over the next few weeks, I learned a lot.
When working with oil, one works in layers and slowly. The paint has to dry and one works backwards.
After several weeks of hauling a painting in and out that looked very amateurish and odd, I finally pulled out my dark green oil and started painting leaves. At least I could do something that looked liked it would in the end.
I learned to add color to white rather than white to color.
I learned to carry along a big roll of paper towels because oil point migrates and travels.
I learned some patience and I've developed a whole lot of respect for my son-in-law and his work.
This is hard and although the end result of my effort is something I'm pleased with, I'm quite aware that I'm truly a beginner.
I love it but I'm a beginner.
At 59, that's something to admit.


  1. I'd like to see your painting.
    It's funny, a couple of weeks or so I did some work on color. I learned all about the science of color. In computers you work in the opposite way, everything goes lighter as you mix them. Red and Green make Yellow instead of Brown.

  2. Nice guide! thank you!/I love it ! Very creative ! That's actually really cool Thanks.
    oil Painting

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