I have wanted to oil paint for probably the last two decades and yet never managed to include it in my art life. I am not sure what kept me from that besides investing in a new medium and fear that it was a hard medium to master.
Somewhere along the way, I had implanted the belief that oil painting was beyond me. Not sure if it was my original fear or planted there by some well-meaning person I met somewhere along the way. Either way, I avoided trying it for many years.
I have never been a fearful artist, I am usually the one who explores new things and likes to see how far I can push things in my creative adventures. Yet oil painting always left me wanting and yet not allowing myself to give it a try.
Other mediums I have acquired some skill in.
Pastels have been by medium this past couple of years and I was so enjoying the beautiful colors and effects you can get with this wonderful medium.
They are blendable and can give you some soft effects. You can also do some amazing mark making with pastels and give your painting a whole different look.
I also explored colored pencils in my art and just love the amount of detail that pencils provide. You can achieve amazing things with colored pencils. I have many artist friends doing some amazing realism in pencils.
Realism is amazing but I prefer exploring that in a different way by using color and texture to see where else I can bring the piece.
Watercolors have also lured me in over the years. I love the beautiful transparency of this medium and all it can do. You can approach watercolor from the loose painterly approach or keep glazing layers until you get the desired look.
The longing to try oils is getting louder
But somewhere in the recesses of my artistic desires oil paints were calling to me and no matter how hard I tried to ignore that and convince myself that I wanted to focus on one medium and explore that fully, I could not shake the urge that oils were somehow beckoning me to indulge in their amazing beauty.
I have learned over the many years of my life to follow those callings and trust they are meant to be a part of my life and my creative journey. So I bought oil paints and started watching tutorials and learning all I could.
Wanting the best artist grade paints I could afford led me to Blue Ridge Oil Paint. Handmade by an artist and still affordable compared to other handmade paint lines. Also used by some master artist, if it’s good enough for them then it’s good enough for me.
I believe in investing in quality supplies the first time so I don’t have to waste money buying lower-grade paints and then replacing them all. That’s double the expense. Even if I don’t want to continue in oils I can always sell quality paints, lower grades not so much.
Color charts were next on the list
The best way to get to know your paints is to make some color charts. it gives you an idea of how much that color can do for you when you paint.
Mixing paint while make charts is a great exercise in getting to know color, value, greys and so much more. It also gives you a good reference chart to come back to when you paint.
I make a new color mixing page for each new paint that I buy. And there is always a surprise color combo that I find in doing that. It is a great exercise in understanding your paint.
The learning curve got me on this one for a bit
Trying new mediums can be a big challenge and often make you feel like you went backward in your abilities. That can be a difficult thing to work through for many of us creatives.
There is always an ugly part to each painting no matter the medium, it’s just part of the process. But in a new medium that can feel like it goes on for longer than we would like.
I usually adapt fairly quickly to new mediums and this one did not go that way. And the fact that oils stay wet for much longer than many other mediums was also a factor I had to learn to have patience with.
I have been known to be a rather impatient artist in that I like to get through things in a relatively shorter amount of time. I work small so I can work more often on different things and have thus far used mediums that allow me to continue painting in this way.
Then comes oils and put on the brakes and slow down and wait. Being determined to learn oils I had to make myself find a way to work with it or give it up. NOT giving up.
Working on several pieces at once helped with the wait, gave me variety in my current work projects and allowed me to keep painting. Fast-drying mediums also helped.
Discovering how to add a lightly textured base layer with modeling paste and water over my gesso board also helped. I found the texture of this gave my paint something to grab onto.
I use 2 parts modeling paste to three parts water and mix well. I use it over my acrylic gesso base coats and it gives just enough tooth for me to now feel like my oil paint is sliding all over my canvas.
I am currently loving oil painting and will be forging on ahead in this wonderful new medium.
So don’t give up, try that new medium, don’t let the struggle of new things keep you from trying it or continuing it. Great artists are not born overnight. I have put the last 30 years into my artistic journey and every day I discover new things.