Inquiry Project – Oil Painting

For my inquiry project, I decided to try oil painting again after an eighteen year absence. Over the years I’ve wanted to get back to oil painting, but it seemed that I could never find the time. Being a commercial artist and working on a computer everyday made me appreciate working with traditional media, like pencil and paint. Absence makes the heart grow fonder I guess. I also thought that painting with oils would bring another dimension to teaching life drawing at the College. Becoming an oil painter also seemed like a good first step to adding “fine artist” to my resumé. Yet for all its attraction and perceived advantages, for some reason, I could not make the time to start oil painting again.

After a good deal of thought, I decided that a lack of confidence was at the root of my reluctance to break out the brushes and oil paint. Working with solvents and painting mediums require more time and attention as they can be hazardous. In addition, the painting process is not as easy and flexible as painting on a computer. To overcome my lack of confidence and boost my odds for success I decided to keep things simple and keep my goals modest.

First I needed a refresher on solvents, painting mediums, colour mixing and painting approaches. My first instinct was to review some books on the subject in my personal library. My second thought was to check Youtube. Being a visual learner, I found Youtube to be a terrific resource which allowed me to quickly get up to speed in the areas I needed help with.

Secondly, instead of doing a larger painting, which would take more time and planning, I decided to do a much smaller colour study. The smaller study would take less time and would also be less precious. As a result I would be more open to experimenting and less worried about making mistakes than I would be with a large painting. I also built on my strength of drawing to get me off to a good start.

In the end, I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. The results were better than I expected and encouraged me to continue down this path. I realized that other skills I had developed over the years were complementary to oil painting and increased my chances for success.

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