Oil Painting 101

This weekend was my first oil painting class at OCAD in Toronto. I’ll be attending classes once a week for the next few weeks. The class was extremely satisfying in ways I hadn’t anticipated.

Sometimes, it’s as if my conscious mind is the last to know what my creative mind wants. I can recognize now that I’ve been craving instruction like this for a while. Over the past couple of years, as a means of broadening my artistic palette, I’ve tried focusing on different types of expression. For example, for a while I focused on drawing and painting animals. I tried a range of animals from pictures and then worked on horses from life drawing. For a period after that, I spent time focusing on versatility of colour use.

I’ve found that learning new things, and sometimes re-learning old things, is really intrinsic to creative development. I’m happy for this time, where I can focus on developing my technical painting skills afresh. Sometimes I forget how valuable it is to work on those skills – often times favouring composition or imagination, over technical ability. I suppose that’s the downside of being self taught.

Through looking at students work in the art school and listening to my professor I understood for the first time the real value of technical ability in painting. At any given moment, a person is the sum of their embodied genetics and experiences. For an artist, one’s work is no more or less than a reflection of that moment of self. The work that you make is the manifestation of that momentary distillation of self. The acuity of that expression is only possible through a marriage of perspective and skill.

On the studio side of things, at the moment, I enjoy the process of working with oils. I don’t know what it will be like, working with them on reflective pieces, since I’ve only just begun to experiment. I imagine that the longer drying time would lend itself to a different sort of process than I’m used to with acrylics. With the little I have done so far though, I really enjoy how the colours spread and blend.

More than anything, it feels amazing to be taking a class in a real art school. I know my class is not an undergrad or masters course, but to have instruction in that kind of facility, from a real professor, feels amazing.

9 thoughts on “Oil Painting 101

  1. Pingback: Oil Painting 101 - Trinidad & Tobago Online

  2. Well said Lisa…a moment of self…
    On a practical note, I like oil paint but such a pain to clean…and to paint while wear gloove doesn’t feel right to me…kinda like socks on a hot summer day.:-)

  3. Thanks! I didn’t use gloves at my class. Did you wear gloves because of the turpentine? Mine is a solvent free class so thankfully no gloves for me. I have to use oil to get the paint off my brushes… I haven’t yet really gotten the knack of it.

  4. hey,I recently experimented with oils myself after years of putting it off cuz of the mess i imagined i would make and also cuz i thought it was for the elite artists.But i love the ability to blend forever! and the vibrancy of the colours which i feel i couldnt get from acrylics(unless i was doing it wrong which is a high probability).It’s so inspirational to know someone else is on the same journey as me…….self taught and trying to increase our horizons.I myself was checking around for classes cuz i lack the technical skills.so excited for you….keep on trucking!

    • I had stayed away from oils for a long time because of the solvents and ventilation I thought they needed, but there are techniques that reduce or eliminate the need for toxic substances when working with them. I’m a fan of rich colours and acrylics have a tendency to colour shift when they’re dry, so I think oils will be great to work with. It seems like a kind of alchemy though – it’ll take a long time to gain proficiency. What does your work look like? I tried to find some on your Facebook but I couldn’t find. Send me pics! Would love to see and hear more about your journey.

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