Wednesday, December 4, 2013

What I have learned so far

It’s more complicated than you might think. I thought oil painting, and by association art itself, was free and accepting and open minded.

When I first got started painting, I called a local art gallery, looking for a teacher. I talked with a lady who taught the oil painting class at the gallery, and she asked me to tell her what I had done up to that point.

I told her about the paints and brushes I had purchased at walmart and about the Bob Ross videos I had found at the library.

I could hear this teacher starting to hyperventilate over the phone, so I stopped talking.

Then she launched into her rebuke!

I was doing myself more harm than good! There was nothing on the internet or in videos that will teach me anything!

I needed live, personal instruction. I needed a good year of training in sketching before I ever touched a painter’s brush!

Now, I respect this teacher and I understand her enthusiasm about the importance of proper art instruction.

But I don’t feel like I have a year to spend learning things before I start to paint.

I will say this though: I believe that I need to learn to draw, so I will study drawing AT THE SAME TIME as I am painting.

The main reason I didn’t decide to take lessons from this teacher is that I am looking for instructors that are more easy-going. I’m not young anymore. I can’t take the “drill sergeant” type who has very strong feelings and beliefs about the right way and the wrong way to do things. I want to explore and experiment. I don’t want to be indoctrinated into one particular school of thought.

It’s funny to me because I’ve always been attracted to hobbies and pursuits that cause people to disagree violently.  I golf, and golfers are cruel and critical of one another. I play the guitar, and guitarists notoriously hate each other.  

“You’re doing it wrong!” I knew I’d hear that. I’ve found that artists have very definite ideas about the wrong way and the right way to paint.

But isn’t art about expression?

What if I wanted to paint with different hues of mud, using a toothbrush? Would that be okay?

I won’t even start naming famous artists who had different styles, some even radical.

But there are still some hints I’m learning about successful oil painting that I can share.

Cleaning the brushes with dish soap and water is possible. But it makes a huge mess in the sink. I’m always looking for the cleanest, easiest way to go from set up, to painting, to clean up, as I can.

People have told me not to use dish soap and water to clean my brushes, but it seems to work fine, and after drying overnight, the brushes seem great.

By the way, if you have strong feelings about what I should or shouldn’t be doing, PLEASE leave a comment!

But right now I’m mostly cleaning my brushes with mineral spirits. They do seem to build up a residue though.

So I’m learning, finding my preferences, developing habits, painting my mile.
So here's another canvas so you can see my progress:



  1. I like that your willing to jump in there and do it. I'm slowly getting past my own resistance to try it myself. I went to one class a couple of weeks ago. I like this painting that you've done. Makes me want to go there. It's interesting. It invokes a feeling. That is what I look for in art. Is that a trappers cabin? I wonder if they are having a good season? :) keep on painting your mile.

    1. Thank you! I only started because I wanted to try, and I've loved every second of this adventure. I often wonder when I'm painting if I'm making any kind of statement at all, or just smearing paint. Thanks for the thoughts!!!