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.


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.


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  1. beginners rock…

  2. beginners rock…

  3. What kind of subjects do you think you’ll paint with the oil & cold wax?

  4. What kind of subjects do you think you’ll paint with the oil & cold wax?

    • I’m playing with landscapes and maps to start. Who knows from there? I hope my ‘voice’ becomes clear. Right now it’s hopelessly lost in technical wrangling.

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