Oil Painting

I had heard a lot if hype about oils being awesome, so even without a lot of painting experience I was excited to take this class. The faculty member teaching it had several decades experience and that tipped my motivation to take it.

We started with grisaille painting. You paint a grey tonal painting, then paint colors over it. As you can see, my flower put one looks pretty flat, it was my first oil painting.

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I like this second one better, but the composition is a bit off. My slightly mischievous mannequin’s head is too closer to the top of the page.

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Next the teacher made us put down our brushes and use our palette knives for painting with. First it was just really scary, then it got delightfully fun. I am now a fan of the palette knife for life. We made impastos, or paintings with really thick paint. At this point it became apparent this was the most expensive class I’d taken, due to continually replacing paint tubes.

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As the class progressed, we covered and practiced a lot of basic 2D design concepts, composition, perspective, color, shading, etc. We’d often have the whole classes’ paintings out for constructive criticism (and inspiration, so many different styles and ideas!). You could visually note how everyone was improving.

Next we did alla prima, or doing a painting in one session. We brought out our brushes again. She wanted us to do these in front of our subject matter. (I named this lawn flamingo Wilfred).

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This next one was done in plein air, outside.

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Next was a huge challenge, the painting of a live model! We practiced mixing skin tones, and the day of we had about three hours to complete our figure paintings, and that needed to include our composition sketches, paint mixing, and breaks for the model (it’s not too comfy to lean on one arm for long.) Fortunately I’d done a lot of figure sketching on my own in previous months. This made it so the naked shock value was diminished. When painting or drawing, a human figure is  just a (really complicated) still life and most of your time is spent trying to figure out how to realistically render it rather than blushing at boobies. More importantly, I had some practice drawing proportions. Mine still wound up with a long torso and small head, but I was still proud I’d painted this with the considerable time restraints.

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Our final was a self portrait with a hat. If figures are complicated in a scary way, faces are terrifying. I did many sketches of myself because the first few didn’t even look like me. She gave us freedom to use non-local color and to imitate the style of portraits by the masters. I tried my brush at art-nouveau for the background, but my actual face is just kinda my own style. The cat on my head was rather a comedic element so I went funky with the rest of it. Renaissance it is not, but it does kinda work.

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At the end of the class, I was thoroughly inspired. I love painting. I joined an art gallery, got myself a plein air pochade box set up, and am planning on continuing this both as a hobby and as a way to improve my illustration skills. There’s a juried art show I’ll be entering in April. Wish me luck!

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