What Not To Do

Whenever we set about learning a new skill, we tend to focus on what we should do. With oil painting, of course it’s important to know basic techniques and “how-to’s”, but I’ve found that it’s just as important to know what not to do.



In my first six weeks painting with oil, I’ve learned:

  • Do NOT leave my brushes sitting in cleaner
  • Do NOT forget to wash my brushes when I’m through
  • Do NOT be skimpy with paint when I’m mixing colors
  • Do NOT forget the “thin over thick” rule
  • Do NOT leave jars of thinner and mediums uncapped
  • Do NOT attempt painting when I’m rushed for time
  • Do NOT forget to have paper towels and rags close by
  • Do NOT forget where the light source is in the painting
  • Do NOT drop the palette knife on the painting
  • Do NOT use graphite to draw on the canvas
  • Do NOT start a painting without a plan in mind
  • Do NOT get discouraged when things don’t work out

Of course, it’s the last one that’s probably the most important. It’s easy to become discouraged when trees don’t look like trees, and colors don’t go together, when paint turns to mud, and rocks look like ugly brown blobs. Learning to paint takes time. It takes patience, and above all, it takes practice.

It seems that each time I start a new painting, I learn something else not to do, and that’s all right with me. I’ll probably never run out of mistakes to make, but as long as I learn from the experience, those slip-ups will help me improve.

Feel free to add to my list!

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