I’ve been focused on trying to figure out how to use oil paint. Reading about it, watching videos. Intensely and narrowly focused on it. I’m working on 10 panels, experimenting with various aspects of how the paint reacts to mediums, palette knives and brushes. It’s been a dance between having fun and feeling frustrated because I don’t have control over the media yet.

painting of bare tree in lush grass
Winter Tree in Summer Grass?

Maybe control isn’t the best approach?

Putting work in progress up on this blog gives me an opportunity to step back and see what I’m doing. Last week I wrote about allowing myself to use brushes in addition to palette knives. I was so obsessed about figuring out the tools that I lost sight of the image.

I almost always paint bare trees. I’m more interested in the structure of the branches than leaves. I went to a familiar type of image thinking it would be easier than coming up with something new in addition to the new media.

I was so tightly focused on my battle with the tools that I stopped thinking about the image, and ended up with a bare tree in a lush sea of grass.¬† It’s not that my work is ever representationally accurate, but this just seemed wrong.

 This may be the best part of oil painting

I started by trying to darken the ground, but the whole thing just felt overworked. When I do that in watercolor, it goes in the trash. Here, I can just scrape it back and redo.

Here is the painting now. Not sure if it it finished yet, but that’s a topic for another post.

oil painting of row of purple trees
Purple Trees, oil on panel, 9″ x 12″

 

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20 Comments

  1. A combination of palette knife (ground and clouds) and brush (trees and sky behind the clouds)?

  2. A combination of palette knife (ground and clouds) and brush (trees and sky behind the clouds)?

    • Yes, pretty much. Just a little using the brush to blend a bit in the sky toward top. It probably dried for two days between the warm layers and working the light blue/white back into it. Then another two days before I did the trees. Using cold wax and Galykd in the background, which helps it dry pretty quick.

  3. Do you worry about preserving oils you’ve squeezed out of the tube but won’t use in a session. I’ve read about laying the palette in a Masterson box and filling it with water, Saran Wrap placed on the individual paints with no air and keeping it in the freezer, and Oil of Cloves.

    I tend to squeeze out as little as possible and that works when colors aren’t mixed. Once mixed, it can be difficult for me to make an identical mix later.

  4. Do you worry about preserving oils you’ve squeezed out of the tube but won’t use in a session. I’ve read about laying the palette in a Masterson box and filling it with water, Saran Wrap placed on the individual paints with no air and keeping it in the freezer, and Oil of Cloves.

    I tend to squeeze out as little as possible and that works when colors aren’t mixed. Once mixed, it can be difficult for me to make an identical mix later.

    • I’m doing what you are right now, trying to estimate how much I will need for the session. I’ve also used plastic wrap, and that’s OK, but you waste paint on the plastic and have a lot of mess potential (that’s me, you are neater.)

      I haven’t tried the underwater or freezer thing. May resort to it though, as I start to work larger the expense of the paint is going to become a bigger consideration.

  5. I’m thinking Hangout during painting sessions, camera pointed at the canvas, ongoing discussion.

  6. I’m thinking Hangout during painting sessions, camera pointed at the canvas, ongoing discussion.

    • Am I hanging out with you while you are painting, or am I hanging out On Air?

      • Ever since I learned tennis by watching pros at Longwood I’ve learned by watching others do what they do; in this case, a webcam kind of thing. I suppose it could be an experiment for an extra source of income for you; teaching painting online.

  7. BTW, not that you’ll want or need it, but I found a wonderful book called The Oil Painting Course You’ve Always Wanted.

  8. BTW, not that you’ll want or need it, but I found a wonderful book called The Oil Painting Course You’ve Always Wanted.

    • I’ve been looking at all sorts of resources, including books. I just ordered it from the library. Love to see different approaches.


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