Sunday, November 14, 2010

Wow, this is harder than it looks.........


I'm still attempting to work in oils.  My, but this is much harder than you oil painting bloggers make it look.  You can see by the photo's above - the photo I took of the pumpkin and some fall leaves on a white background, then I turned it into black and white after I had completed my painting to see if I as close in values.  Not so good ...

A few issues I'm having is that:

  • To thin the oil paint I find that I have more than once used turpentine to thin the paint instead of my  medium.
  • My brush strokes are bazaar at best, I'm not use to seeing shapes.
  • Not knowing what brushes to use and when.
  • I'm also wondering if this set-up with the fall leaves was too much for me at this stage of my learning oil paints.
Those issues above really have nothing to do with the poor drawing skills I've shown, but non-the-less I'm going to continue my oil painting journey.

I'm open to all suggestions and advise ....( except 'quit while I'm ahead').


  1. No don't give up! I personally never use medium, Nancy, don't feel like I need it, or that it is easy to control. (Kevin Macpherson never uses medium either) The big thing to remember with oil is "fat over lean" so cover the entire surface first, putting in the shapes you have been working with already using thin washes (there is nothing wrong with using as much turp as you need to thin it out initially) and then top layers should be thicker paint. Most oil painters keep the darks thin (to get a luminosity from canvas underneath) while making the lights much thicker. And don't worry about which brush where, most oil painters I know can easily use the same brush the entire painting unless there is some super detailed subject--or you may want to use one brush for lights and the other for darks to keep your colors clean. Kim English says choose the biggest brush you think you can handle, and then use one a size larger than that! When he demos, he usually uses one that is about half an inch wide, a filbert; while Peggi Kroll Roberts always uses flats, also half an inch wide. Hope that helps!

  2. Remember, Nancy, that oils are much more forgiving than watercolors. And always take time to clean your brushes well between colors. You'll do just fine.

  3. The thing I've learned about (and from) oil painting is that value seems to be the one most important thing to master. I usually do a pre- paintingin just black and white, to work out the values and compostion.
    Jean-Oierre Pyat is someone who explains value in a simple and helpful way
    (use gogle translation - it's in French) He suggests limiting values to four, and gives composition tips.
    I also used the Carder system when I first started, and sometime still re-watch the video - it's pretty idiot-proof, if a bit tedious.
    That said, you've off to a really good start. You should have seen my first attempts! I must remember to destroy them......

  4. Wow, I've had so many great replies to my post. Thanks bunches gang.

    Faye.... wonderful advise you've shared. I've taken notes.

    Sally ... darn if that isn't about the hardest habit for me to get into. Keeping my brushes clean between colors. I always want to forge ahead and paint some more.

    Casey.... Great web-site you shared with me. I like the 4 value idea. And... I may break down and purchase the Carder videos. May be the best money I'll have spent on art, who knows.

  5. Great comments Nancy. You are more adventerous than I in attempting oils. Your blog has loads of good information. Love your little "Exercises In Oil Paints" still life photo. Your "Back To Basic" value sketches are also nice. I like your blog. You are not afraid to try things which is GREAT!!!

  6. Anonymous10:25 PM

    Love the sharing of your art adventures! What excellent exercises (turning into nice art too). I also, could use practice blocking out values.
    IMHO, I think what you've shown here is a great start! All that may be needed is to darken your darks a few steps with straight paint (no medium/turp) and I think much of it will pop. I really like your handling of the 'light' leaves.

    Ditto FCP and others on many accounts. Personally...
    - I rarely use medium, though I use Gamsol instead of turp (less stinky/dangerous)
    - Lazy me I try to use as few brushes as possible; ideally one. When your paint gets thicker, less threat of one color "poisoning" another (except lights/whites)
    - K English = (*sigh*) my hero. I mostly use Brights

  7. Hey shouldn't complain here --your pumpkin looks an awful lot like your arrangement. Count it a success and go on to the next thing--! (Good work!)