It will probably seem as though I’m having a bit of an artistic identity crisis. First, I’m sharing my new thoughts about impressionism and even doing a bit of abstract expressionism with colors. And then I’m doing an about-face and posting pieces of representational art.
It’s not so much that I have a personality disorder as it is that I’m still a beginner when it comes to oil painting. I think it’s important for me to develop skills in many different areas.
The winter scene I’m working on now — inspired by an acrylic painting from Annette Dozier’s book Painting Peaceful Country Landscapes — is giving me an opportunity to improve my drawing skills with both pencil and paint.
Although I did sketch in foreground elements and the fence using a drawing pencil, the trees were drawn directly on the canvas with a small brush and well-thinned paint. I had previously done the background area, so I waited several days for that to dry enough for me to easily paint over it.
I’m getting better at placing my lines where I want them, and even my lights and shadows are looking a little better than usual. I still struggle with getting the paint exactly the right consistency, but overall I feel I’m making progress.
I’ve heard many people say that learning to draw isn’t necessary in order to become a painter. In fact, ThoughtCo lists this as one of 6 prevalent myths about painting, explaining that:
“…a painting is not a drawing that is colored in, and a drawing isn’t a painting that hasn’t been colored in yet. Painting involves its own set of skills. Even if you were an expert at drawing, you’d need to learn how to paint.”
I can definitely attest to this. After having spent several years learning the basics of drawing, I’ve still had to learn oil painting techniques — which are entirely different.
“…some artists like to do detailed drawings to use as reference before they paint, but many don’t. Some artists do drawings directly onto their canvas before they start to paint, but many don’t.”
Here is an area where I haven’t yet found exactly the best method. I’ve done paintings — such as the stone bridge — where I first drew a detailed scene in my sketchbook and then re-drew the scene directly on the canvas. I’ve done landscapes where I’ve made vague-looking sketches on the canvas. My scene of a nearby fishing lake was one of those. I’ve also done many paintings without drawing anything — in a sketchbook or on the canvas. My Winter Dream painting was one of these, as was Fire in the Forest.
I’ve also experimented with using thinned acrylics to “sketch” a scene on the canvas. While that method seemed promising at first, I was disappointed with the results I got. The same thing happened when I tried to do a complete sketch with thinned oils.
What I’m learning now is different, not sketching an underpainting, but actually drawing completed elements — such as the trees — with my paints.
“…there is no rule that says you must draw before you paint if you don’t want to. Drawing is not just an initial step in making a painting. Drawing is a different way of creating art. Having drawing skills will definitely help with your painting, but if you hate pencils and charcoal, this doesn’t mean you can’t learn to paint.”
Yes, without a doubt, I believe that drawing is an important skill for a painter, and I’m glad I took the time to develop basic drawing skills. As I move toward a more impressionist style of painting, I may use my drawing skills less while painting, yet I do want to always maintain a sense of representation in my landscapes.
I want to paint trees that resemble trees, rocks that look like rocks. I want, too, to eventually develop the ability to add more structures to my landscapes — like the fence I painted in this unfinished Winter Scene. I want to add those old barns, those covered bridges, those farmhouses and country cottages that are a part of the natural landscape, despite being man-made.
To do this, I need drawing skills — both with pencil and paper and with paint. Drawing with paint is different. Very different. I like what I’m learning, and I’m pleased with the results I’m starting to see.
ThoughtCo. also shared a bit of wisdom attributed to Leonardo da Vinci. I like this. It gives me a lot to think about in my art:
“Painting embraces all the 10 functions of the eye; that is to say, darkness, light, body and color, shape and location, distance and closeness, motion and rest.” — Leonardo da Vinci.