Monday, August 11, 2008

Adventures in Oil Painting

Pear Blossoms,
oil on canvas, 9 in x 12in

This post is about my second oil painting, the good, the bad, and the ugly. For those interested, this was my second attempt with the pear blossoms, the first was done in colored pencil.

First though, I just want to say thank you to everyone who has written encouraging comments, it really means alot to me that you would care enough to do so. I feel so very clumsy with paints, to know that my readers are rooting for me is a tremendous help.

The Good
  • I was excited to start.
  • I forced myself to "finish" it. OK, I know that doesn't sound monumental, but it all went so horribly wrong at the beginning that I just wanted to stop. I'm glad now that I carried on, it got slightly better, but more importantly, I did learn a few things.
The Bad
  • Values - the entire painting isn't so dark as last time, but there are no real darks in there to make it interesting.
  • Brushstrokes - I held the brush differently this time and paid a price with the brushstrokes. As well, I tried several different brushes and didn't use the one that I so much success with last time.
The Ugly
  • Edges - last time I did a thick outline drawing first, then swept into that with the color of the petals themselves. In doing so, I had some lovely edges. This second time, I tried that but the values of the outline paint and the petal local color were too different, and it just became a jumbled mess.
  • Wet on Wet - Yikes! I just slapped paint all around and got the colors all messed up. I don't know how people paint over things they don't like. I tried that, but it was not very successful.
What I Learned and Where I'm Taking It
  • Reading - since this painting I've had my nose in Timeless Techniques for Better Oil Painting. I have another book arriving tomorrow and loads of video I could download and watch.
  • Values - now that I've hit the two ends of the spectrum exclusively, let's see if I can't manage a more satisfying values arrangement.
  • Color Mixing - I think I may try my other limited palette. (I chose to do two different limited palettes when I was buying paint, just to focus my efforts.) I may end up just doing some color mixing to see what different colors I can achieve, without painting a subject.
  • From Life - In the book mentioned above I have been reading about color temperature and how it affects color mixing. He strongly encourages painting from life to see the differences that kinds of light make on a subject. This makes me feel like I need to grab some subjects out of the vegetable drawer and have a go!


Katherine Tyrrell said...

My current bedtime reading is "Everything you ever wanted to know about oil painting" (Watson Guptill - paperback) which is a composite of a number of books and perspectives of different people. It contains what looks like some really good advice from artists like David Leffel, Albert Handell, Charles Reid and Charles Le Clair.

Jo Castillo said...

You are having fun, right? You can always scrape off or wipe off something. Start thin they say. Highlights at the end are thicker.

The painting looks OK. Yellow is a difficult color to shadow, I think.'

Painting fruit and veggies is a great idea.

Great start, remember you have only done two!


vivien said...

don't forget to use the paint thin and washy as well as thick and buttery to get variety

and glazes - thin washes of slightly oilier colour over dry paint - it gives beautiful subtle glow and variation in colours

it IS fun!

Jeanette said...

You're doing well so far Rose. Experimenting with values and colours is all part of the learning process.

My suggestion would be to keep looking at paintings of others work that you enjoy or are influenced by. Each painting brings you closer to what you want. Keep going!

Valerie Jones said...

Looking good, Rose! It's been so long since I worked in oils that I can't remember much about them. Sorry, I can't be of much help other than to cheer you on.

Jeffrey W. Phillips said...

Actually, I think this is a fine start, Rose. This is your second oil painting after all!

Another book I'd recommend is Oil Painter's Solution Book (Landscapes) by Elizabeth Tolley. It covers a broad range of basic to mid-level guidelines. Even though it specifically speaks about landscapes, the information is easily translatable to other subjects.

Actually, now that I think of it there are a few books I could recommend. Landscape Painting Inside and Out by Kevin MacPherson is also helpful. I particularly like his focus on a limited palette.

Rose Welty said...

Thanks everyone for the advice and encouragement - it means more than you know! I'll keep the recommendations on the wish list.