This winter I decided to teach myself to oil paint. I’ve never painted really. There was the flirtation with oils when I was nine or ten years old. Just because someone gave me a set of oil paints. I hated what I did then, so decided to stick with drawing. And in Design Fundamentals in college I dabbled in a bit of color theory, mixing acrylics. But that’s it. I’m not even the one who paints the walls in the house.
I just wanted to do something for fun, and to mix up my thinking, a bit, see what I could learn. So I started with simple shapes, a set of student paints, and a pad of treated paper. A pumpkin on a pillar. Okay. A bit raw, and bright, but I started. On to painting on canvas.
I tried a set of small sea smoke paintings. Wow. What a difference painting on canvas makes. Nope, not interested in going back to the treated paper. And I tried some glazes in these, to tone down the bright colors a bit and try to get all of the lights of the morning sea and sky. Abstract and not abstract, but playing with color.
I found I was really enjoying how long the oils take to dry, how easily the colors blend and change. Mixing colors on the pallet, on the canvas. Wicked cool.
Next stop: vegetable portraits, something I’ve been thinking about for a while. I think I want to paint landscapes (go figure), but I was also thinking that focusing on single subjects would give me a chance to focus and figure out how to control the paint, paying attention to details, experimenting with different styles. Though I keep getting into details.
I did try to get loose and impressionistic on the squash painting. And the artichoke was very clear and crisp until I added a bright red glaze that toned it down. I kind of like the look. Probably I am overdoing that red glaze. But oh well, at least I am seeing what it can do.
What I am learning is that painting is sculpting with light, paying attention to shadows and highlights, changes in colors, subtle and bold. Very different from drawing. Very. And very forgiving.
So learning to paint has become a bit of a consuming passion most mornings this winter. Each time I spend any time with the paint I learn something new. As I am painting in the greenhouse, there will be an end to this diversion, once I start filling the place with seedlings. I figure I have at least six weeks before I have to move on, so until then, I’m having fun sculpting with light.