Hello, everyone! It’s been a busy three months since I went “back to school” to resume my art studies. Yes, I’ve learned a lot over these recent weeks, and I’m thrilled to be posting here again now. I took “the plunge” and dived into oil painting. I’m loving it! It is, of course, a totally new learning experience. I’m actually very pleased with the results I’ve achieved with my first few paintings.
Before I start showing off my canvases, I want to recap some of the most important things I’ve learned.
- My earlier work wasn’t really all that bad.
This came as quite a surprise to me. For such a long time, I refused to think of myself as “an artist”, and I felt certain that my work was amateurish, awful, and something I should be apologetic for. But then, after several months away from my art studies, I returned and saw my earlier drawings and paintings from a different perspective. Maybe it’s partly a sentimental thing, maybe it’s all the memories those earlier works evoke. Or maybe it’s true that — as so many of you tried to tell me — even my beginner’s works had a certain individual style and showed potential. Especially when I sit down with my burgeoning portfolio of early drawings, watercolors, and acrylics, I am amazed to have created so many pieces of art, and pleasantly surprised by the quality. Some, of course, are better than others, but I’m happy that in my eyes, I can definitely see the possibilities those early works show.
- I love seeing the world as “an artist”.
I once heard someone say that painting is good for our souls if only because it teaches us to see the world in a different way. It’s so true! During my “art break” I worried that I might lose that artistic point of view. Fortunately, that didn’t happen. Especially now with oil painting, I do find myself studying scenes more closely, being much more observant of the subtle changes in color, the play of light and shadow, and the essential shapes of things I see. It’s a fascinating perspective from which to view the world around us. I’m glad I have developed this ability.
- I don’t care for acrylics.
I did enjoy watercolor, but I never fully embraced acrylics. I still have quite a few paints in my studio, but I doubt that I’ll use them. As artists (and yes, I now feel comfortable in using that term to describe myself) we have our likes and dislikes. We have our affinities for certain media, certain styles, certain subjects. And we have those that just don’t “do anything” for us. For me, that’s acrylics. I can’t pinpoint any particular reason. I can only say that while I thoroughly enjoyed watercolor and am totally loving oil painting, acrylics just never did much for me. I’ve now dropped acrylic painting from my studies, and I won’t miss it.
- I am very glad I took the time to learn the principles of drawing.
Years ago, I believed all artists had to learn to draw. I couldn’t imagine it possible to paint in any media without knowing how to draw. I was quite shocked, in fact, when an artist friend (a painter) told me “Oh, I don’t do any drawing. I’m a painter.” How could that be possible? Well, today, I understand that it’s quite possible to paint without first learning to draw. Maybe I wasted a lot of time. Maybe instead of learning to draw I could have just learned to paint instead. Maybe I’d be much farther along on my artistic pathway had I followed that route instead. Maybe. But, all the same, I’m glad I know how to draw. I enjoy drawing immensely! I love sketching with pencils, or doing charcoal portraits. Even more, I love the knowledge I’ve gained. I’m glad I know the various “elements of art”. I’m glad I know about perspectives and proportions. If nothing else, it gives me a feeling of confidence and a “can-do” attitude when I grab a canvas and begin painting.
- I am the artist.
This is one of the most important things I’ve learned! It’s not just that I am an artist, it’s that with any piece of artwork I do, I am the artist — the one who makes the decisions, the one who has the freedom to express myself as I see fit.
Although my studies still involve a lot of “lessons” and tutorials, I’m much quicker now to try different things than I was in the past. I’ve learned that although there are guidelines to follow, there are no absolute rules. I’ve discovered that I have the right to do as I please, to take chances, to trust my own instincts. It’s a wondrous feeling! So now, it’s time for me to show-off my first oil painting. Of course, I still feel obliged to offer my usual disclaimers. I’m still learning. There’s a lot I could improve upon. I made a lot of mistakes in this painting.
At the same time, I can happily say that I really like this painting, as simple as it is. For a first effort, it far exceeded my expectations. I had fun doing this painting, so much fun that I couldn’t wait to do another…and another.
You’ll probably notice that the painting is unsigned. Actually, I did sign it, but the signature was too big and clunky, so I wiped it off. Yes, even with oil paints, I can correct things! I was very glad to learn that.
I have a nice new “script brush” on order, and once it arrives, I will definitely be signing this — and future — oil paintings.
My one regret is that I haven’t figured out how to successfully photograph my paintings. The colors I end up with are not what the actual colors are. In the actual “Winter Scene” painting, the ground is white with snow. The color of the sky is a gentler shade of blue. If anyone has advice, please share!
Although most of my works will be oil paintings now — I feel as though I’ve truly found my artistic calling and passion — I will still be studying figure drawing, doing occasional pastels, and having fun with gesture drawings, colored pencils, and other media.
I’m grateful for everyone who follows my blog and shares this incredible journey with me. As when I first began this blog, I’m hopeful that my experiences may in some way be inspirational to others.