One of the joys of my art journey is discovering personal preferences. I learn as much about myself as I do about drawing and painting.
I think, at this point, it goes without saying that I’ve figured out what medium I most enjoy. While I still like charcoal and graphite, oil painting has become my favorite form of artistic expression.
Now that I’ve been painting for almost a month — I’m becoming an old hand at this — I’ve already gathered quite a collection of brushes in various shapes and sizes.
And, I’ve found my favorite brush. It’s a Royal Langnickel “Moderna” mop brush made from goat hair. It’s a perfect brush for blending, and at $5.99, the price is definitely right.
I haven’t discovered my favorite brand of oil paints yet, though. There are so many to try! Mostly I’ve been using the very inexpensive Daler-Rowney oil paints that Wal-Mart carries. I’ve also tried M. Graham, Winsor & Newton, and Hobby Lobby’s “Master’s Touch” brand. I do like the “Master’s Touch” and have considered buying a 10-tube set through Amazon, but the product description doesn’t specify precisely what pigments are included in the set, so I think I’ll pass.
For now I’m tossing all my tubes of paint into a box — much like I’ve done with my brushes. Yes, it does mean digging around a bit for the ones I want, but that’s all right. Whenever I go art shopping, I plan to pick up a tube or two from different brands, and maybe one day I’ll say, “Oh, yes! I love this paint!” If and when that happens, I will know I’ve found the best one for me.
Meanwhile, I’m developing my favorite color palette. I really enjoy working with a limited number of colors on a painting. Right now, my “go-to” colors seem to be raw umber, cerulean blue, alizarin crimson, titanium white, and cadmium yellow.
Another “favorite” involves size. I find that I’m most comfortable with the 16 x 20 inch canvas panels, and those are another “favorite”. I definitely prefer the panels over the stretched canvas. I’m getting more accustomed to working with the 18 x 24 panels, and I think I’m going to enjoy them as I do more. Currently, I’m exploring the smaller options — doing paintings on 8 x 10 and even 5 x 7 inch panels. I think it’s good for me to use a variety of sizes. It’s a way of making my brain focus a bit on proportions.
I’m also using linseed oil, and an odorless thinner — the brand I can’t remember. I don’t yet have any personal preferences along those lines. I did invest in a cleaning screen “system”, and I’m very glad I did. It has really helped me keep my mess down to a minimum.
As for favorites in my painting, I’d have to say it’s skies. Oh, you expected mountains? I know I’ve painted a lot of mountains, but skies and clouds will probably always be my favorite. My least favorite subject? Buildings. I know you haven’t seen any buildings in my paintings yet. There’s a reason for that. Each time I’ve tried to construct one, I’ve ended up wiping it out. My next practice painting session is going to focus on painting buildings. That doesn’t mean you’re apt to see them showing up any time soon. Hopefully, though, I’ll eventually master the techniques. The ones I’ll be doing in my practice session will be sketched out first, not painted directly on the canvas.
That’s another favorite, too. Sketching things out. Maybe not making highly-detailed sketches, but having a few inked-in guidelines as to where the horizon will be, how I’ll shape the mountains, where I’ll place a pathway. The proper term, I suppose, is “blocking in”. It really has been helpful for me.
And underpainting. Yes, that’s a favorite technique now, too. I’m not always successful with it, but I’m having fun trying different underpaintings. Working with my raw umber has been good. I’ve been happy using cerulean blue as an underpainting, too.
So, that’s a look at the favorites I’ve been playing…or playing with, I should say. What are yours? Do you have a favorite brush? A favorite color? A favorite tool, trick, or technique? Please share! I’d love to hear about all your favorites.