One of the reasons I was always afraid to try oil painting was because I thought correcting mistakes would be difficult — if not impossible. If you’ve been following along on my journey, you’ll remember how I struggled with pen-and-ink drawing for exactly that reason. As a student of art, I make a lot of mistakes. With pen-and-ink, I couldn’t fix them. I feared the same with oil paints, so I shied away from the medium.
But I’ve always wanted to paint with oils. My very first try, in fact, came when I was about fourteen years old. The results were not good. You can read about it in my post, “Where It Began“.
Recently, despite my qualms, I gave in to the temptation. I grabbed an $8.00 set of oil paints at Wal-Mart, picked up a couple canvas panels and a few inexpensive brushes, and I headed home ready to paint.
I got cold feet.
For at least another week or two, those oil paints, brushes, and canvases sat in their Wal-Mart shopping bags, waiting for me to get up enough courage to begin.
Of course, you know I finally found that courage. I found, too, that I love oil painting and that it is possible to fix a lot of mistakes.
Last Friday, I think I spent more time wiping off and scrubbing away paint than I did in actually putting paint on the canvas. I scraped off the sky at least three times. The distant hills were re-done three or four times. On the left, where the pines now stand, I started with a red maple. It was going the way of the “giant tree” I’d painted the previous day, so I grabbed my rag and started wiping away. I never could get the reddish hue completely removed, so I worked around it a bit by adding a little of the color to the clouds in the sky.
Between the clouds, the trees, and those hills, I know I grabbed my rag and started wiping paint from the canvas at least a dozen times. Each time, I reminded myself of that old adage.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
It’s not a perfect painting, but I like it. In fact, I’m planning to frame this one and hang it on my wall, probably someplace where I’ll see it while I’m painting. It will always be a testament of that age-old truth. If at first…
Don’t give up. Keep trying. Wipe it off. Start over. Art, I’ve learned, is much more forgiving than we sometimes realize. Well, except for pen and ink.
UPDATE: Tonight we framed the picture. I thought of putting it near my easel, but it’s in our bedroom now. It will be inspirational to wake up and see it each morning. It’s an awesome feeling.