Feeling Technically Incompetent

startingoil

I don’t know what I am doing technically in oil paint. I hate that. This new project has continuously put me in the beginners seat. I’ve had to stretch in ways I never anticipated. I thought the writing would always be the hardest part of what I do. Now I’m not so sure.

There is an expected level of competence with art. I’ve been doing it for a long time. I’ve taken the classes. Long ago got in my ten thousand hours of practice. Yet, every time I switch media I’m a beginner again. Things do not work as expected. The order of attack shifts and it’s no longer obvious what comes next.

How do you cope with feeling like you don’t know what you are doing when you are used to feeling like you do?

Oil Paint Wrecks Your Clothes

Christine wearing a shop coatNot that my clothes are anything special, yet working in watercolor I never really worried about what I was wearing. Oil paint doesn’t come out of clothes, so now I need to worry about it. When I was in art school, I wore my Dad’s old shop coats which worked great. Those are long gone, so I bought myself a new one. We’ll see how it works

Three different types of gloves to wear oil paintingThen there are the gloves. Not thrilled about wearing them, but if I’m going to be mindul about safety, I’ve got to wear them at least part of the time. I didn’t realize how much I stick my fingers in my paint. Don’t notice it much with watercolor.

I’ve got three different weights of gloves to try. I suspect it will be situational. Using solvents will be the heavy green solvent resistant ones. Everyday painting I’ll try the black gardening gloves and the nitrite exam gloves.

Getting paint on my wrist Easy to make a mess

Even wearing the long sleeved shop coat and gloves, I managed to get paint on my skin in between them. I’ve also scratched my eye and looked like I was wearing bright blue eyeshadow. I regularly take my gloves off to do something, and forget to put them back on right away. The most common thing I find myself doing is picking up the paintings forgetting they stay wet for days.

Lots of things to get used to. How do you protect yourself when working with art materials?

Shifting from Watercolor to Oil Painting

At the Edge of my Confidence

I’ve decided to shift from watercolor to oil on panel for the newest large project I am working on. It’s not that I don’t still love watercolor, it’s just that it gets to be fragile and expensive when it gets big. In the past my watercolors have been small, 9″ x 12″. Lately, I’ve been working 20″ x 30″ or larger which changes a lot of things on a technical level. It’s been over 30 years since I did anything in oil, and even then I just took a semester class in art school. Suddenly, I’m a beginner again.

Getting Started

CynthiaStudioI knew I’d need help, so I took a private class with Cynthia Herron, where I really enjoyed playing with the paint. She had everything set up and organized. She was experienced, knew what we were doing. It’s not quite the same back in my own place.

First thing I needed to learn about was the new painting surface. Panels. They come as smooth wood or already pre-gessoed. The gessoed seemed like a good way to start, but they have a fake canvas texture. I gessoed over them, but the texture rises right through the layers. I could sand them, but that’s a lot of work and a lot of dust. I don’t really want fine dust in my studio or my lungs.

Cats

Two of my cats have beautiful soft long hair. They are feline dust rags, or more accurately feline dust redistributors. They like to be in the center of what I am working on. They shed like mad. In watercolor, the hair gets in the paint and falls off the painting once it’s dry. Not going to work in oil. Not to mention the materials are much stickier, more toxic, and much harder to get off of fur.

The cats are not going to work in an oil painting studio. They are accustomed to hanging out with me most of the day. There will be much mewing when I close the door.

 

Shifting from Watercolor to Oil Painting

At the Edge of my Confidence

I’ve decided to shift from watercolor to oil on panel for the newest large project I am working on. It’s not that I don’t still love watercolor, it’s just that it gets to be fragile and expensive when it gets big. In the past my watercolors have been small, 9″ x 12″. Lately, I’ve been working 20″ x 30″ or larger which changes a lot of things on a technical level. It’s been over 30 years since I did anything in oil, and even then I just took a semester class in art school. Suddenly, I’m a beginner again.

Getting Started

CynthiaStudioI knew I’d need help, so I took a private class with Cynthia Herron, where I really enjoyed playing with the paint. She had everything set up and organized. She was experienced, knew what we were doing. It’s not quite the same back in my own place.

First thing I needed to learn about was the new painting surface. Panels. They come as smooth wood or already pre-gessoed. The gessoed seemed like a good way to start, but they have a fake canvas texture. I gessoed over them, but the texture rises right through the layers. I could sand them, but that’s a lot of work and a lot of dust. I don’t really want fine dust in my studio or my lungs.

Cats

Two of my cats have beautiful soft long hair. They are feline dust rags, or more accurately feline dust redistributors. They like to be in the center of what I am working on. They shed like mad. In watercolor, the hair gets in the paint and falls off the painting once it’s dry. Not going to work in oil. Not to mention the materials are much stickier, more toxic, and much harder to get off of fur.

The cats are not going to work in an oil painting studio. They are accustomed to hanging out with me most of the day. There will be much mewing when I close the door.