Wednesday, June 06, 2007

My first (ever) oil painting

For some time now I've thought I'd like to try oil painting. I had some 8" x 10" canvas boards, (I'm not sure that is the proper name for them), and a few brushes I thought may work. I purchased some oils, some linseed oil and found some helpful step by step instructions on Joe's blog. In the first photo you see where I've toned the panel with a mixture of cad yellow and aliz. crimson, plus some white acrylic. That was as close to the yellow ocher Joe used in his instruction's. Also you see a photo I was using as a reference.
This photos shows where I have done a rough sketch of my picture (and I use the term very loosely) with my homemade vine charcoal.

At this point, in the photo above, I was suppose to be blocking in the major shapes. I think this is where I start to get overwhelmed and begin to think that I've not done my blocking in correctly. I was already beginning to get nit-picky.

This is where I've stopped for the day. I can't seem to get a close-up of it today because of a glare when I photograph it ... maybe tomorrow it will be a little dryer and I'll edit this post with a finished photo.
I'm pretty satisfied with my first attempt, but feel I may do some touch-ups tomorrow.
I still need to:
  1. Learn what brushes to use where. I seemed to want to use only one brush and had to force my self to try one that would work better.
  2. Remember that I can use either the thinner or linseed oil to mix with my paints to aid in painting. I think I used way too much paint, when I could have used a thinner application.
  3. Learn not to mess up my whole pile of paint to mix a color.
  4. Figure out what to do now with the paint left on my palette that isn't used.


  1. It looks great, Nancy! I hope you keep at it. And someday I'll try my hand at watercolors.

    Some of the points you brought up:

    About thick paint, there's nothing wrong with painting thick - many people go for that look. But it is good to start thin and get everything generally 'right'. Then paint your finishing touches heavier. Painting thick right from the start can result in a big mess that's hard to control. One other thing to keep in mind with oils is that you can easily scrape some off and start over if it gets too messy.

    About not messing up a whole pile of paint: it's good to squeeze your paint out in long ribbons instead of one big pile of paint. Then you always use paint from the end of that ribbon, and at worse, you mess up that one end which is easy enough to wipe off without wasting too much paint.

    What to do with that left over paint? Start another painting! :-)

  2. wow! That's an awesome first EVER piece! Amazing how quick you just picked it right up! One trick I do to save my paint overnight and through the week as I keep working from the same palette, is to cover it with a sheet of wax paper. This way the paint is slower to dry out.

    Another idea to keep in mind, since you already love painting in watercolors, is that you can also treat your oils in a little bit the same way. Meaning, thinning them out, painting really light washes, and going from light to dark on the canvas. That's a lot of the way that I paint because I just don't like the goopiness on my brush and having to hyper sensitive about the brush strokes when I put them down. I tend to brush down on the canvas pretty hard, so all I wind up with is mud if I have a lot of paint there.

    Keep at it! This is great work!

  3. canvas paper:

  4. Not bad! Are you kidding it is great!I really enjoyed seeing the pics of how it evolved.

  5. Thanks Joe, I had read about using a ribbon for my paint ...(in the one book I own on noil painting... "oil paintings with light and color" by Macpherson.... but just forgot it when I started out and made a pile for each color. Lesson learned! I see now that when I started I was not blocking in with a thin coat. That would have helped a lot. I see in my one book that Kevin Macpherson used his left over paint by mixing it all together and use for his gray's... I'm assuming thats when he doesn't have a lot left on his palette. Thanks for all your encouraging posts on your blog. They've helped.

  6. Ester, I had to laugh at your encouraging words... "awesome" may be a slight exageration. But thank you... you are always so encouraging, and make me want to try harder.

    I'll give your "watercolor" method a try with some of my left over oils I have on my palette. always love a challenge.........(*wink)

    Thanks also for the link to the canvas paper... what will they think of next? I guess its all in what you are interested in huh?

  7. Thanks Jafa...... come on "GREAT"??? Some of you may have been sniffing the oil paint fumes, with all these positive encouraging words... (I won't mention any names).

    I think I'm finally back into the exciting part of being creative. Since I joined the new (to me) Plein Air group, I feel enspired to PAINT, (even with watercolor). What a great feeling it is to ENJOY being artist again.

    I'm glad you enjoyed the photo's. I'm trying to take more. You are so good at filling your blog with a lot of exciting photo's and it makes the viewer want to see more. Thanks.

  8. Oh my gosh! How fantastic! I would be so thrilled if I could make an oil painting that looks like that. I planned to work with oils this weekend and things just got crazy. Now I'm glad I didn't because I have your inspiration and a chance to look at the lessons you mention on Joe's site. Beautiful. I'm curious the size of the painting you did? I couldn't tell from the photos. That's an interesting set up with the big sheet of plexi on the easel. Do you use that easel for all your work and tape watercolor and other papers to it as well? Did you do that whole painting in one day?

  9. (loooong appreciative whistle...)
    Wow! It's hard to believe this is your first oil painting. It looks awesome from here.