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Are you curious about painting with oils but find them a bit intimidating? Do you feel that there are too many "rules" that you'd have to follow and that they would make the painting process anything but enjoyable? Are you tired of running into oil painting tutorials online that are far too technical and confusing to the point that you start tuning out and not want to learn the medium at all?
When I was first starting my oil painting journey, I got very confused and overwhelmed as I tried to learn from instructional articles and videos I found online. There were so many different types of mediums and solvents one could use, so many ways one could go about using them, and so many rules to follow in order to ensure effective drying of paint layers. Not to mention, professional oil painters have different tips to offer which sometimes even contradict each other.
In today's post, I'll be sharing my current process for creating still life oil paintings. I'll share the specific things I have in mind when creating my photographic reference, what I do to prepare before starting to paint, and the general steps of my painting process. Still life is a subject I highly recommend all beginners to delve into when they are first starting to paint with any medium, as it allows us to practice not only compositional arrangement, but specific fundamental art skills like proportion and value placement. This post also includes a painting time lapse video where you can see me create a complete painting from start to finish using my alla prima method!
What I have come to realize, after having explored oil paint first-hand and tried out a few different mediums and methods (and even ruined a few paintings in the process) is that there is no "right" or "wrong" way to go about creating an oil painting. It is up to each artist to explore different supplies and methods until he/she arrives at what he/she is most comfortable with. It's a matter of not being afraid, experimenting, and slowly but surely arriving at the specific techniques that will enhance and work in favor of our particular painting style.
This is not to say that you should completely disregard the most basic rules and safety measures, of course, like making sure you're working on a primed surface, following the "fat over lean" principle in order to ensure your painting will dry effectively, working in a well-ventilated area and avoiding having paint, mediums or solvents on your skin. However, once you've understood these basic aspects of oil painting (and probably ruined a few pieces for yourself) you'll most likely find oils very enjoyable!
I've heard a bunch of reasons that people come up with to turn away from oils and reach for acrylics:
1. They are too expensive!
There are both student-grade and artist-grade oils, the same way there are for acrylics and watercolors. Winsor and Newton is a brand that offers great quality products for beginners at accessible prices. *See supplies included in this post.
2. You need way too many supplies when compared to other kinds of paint!
What you need to understand is that the use of oil painting mediums is a choice, not a necessity. There are artists that don't even use mediums at all. Even the use of solvents is a choice, as you can use alternatives to clean with. There are people that even use regular dish soap to clean their brushes!
3. They are toxic and harmful for the environment!
Oil paint is a mixture of pigment and linseed oil, which isn't toxic. Different color pigments have different toxicities, whether you're using oils, acrylics or even watercolors (unless you're using the super cheap Crayola-types). So you have to take safety measures with any kind of paint you use.
What makes oil paint potentially more harmful to our health than say, acrylics, are the thinners and, possibly, mediums we use with them. If you're worried about toxicity and harming the environment, simply don't use thinners and mediums, or look for brands like Gamblin that create completely non-toxic products.
Don't believe me when I say that mediums and solvents are optional? Check out this video from JerrysArtarama in which an experienced artist explains how he avoids using them altogether in this work.
4. They are a hassle to clean!
Are they, really? I find cleaning up acrylic paint even more frustrating, as it dries fast and hard on everything! Oils at least remain wet and they can be removed from most surfaces very easily with any kind of thinner. I personally find acrylics more of a hassle to clean because, even though it can be said you need only water and soap to clean them, you need to clean them right away or anything hardens almost immediately. With oils, there is no problem if you continue working and take care of the cleaning at the end.
5. They take too long to dry!
Depending on how you work, you may find this a negative thing or a VERY positive thing. Oils' slow drying properties allow the artist to create awesome effects. However, if you need your paintings to dry faster, there are a variety of mediums you can add to your paint in order to make your paint layers dry in a day or two. Two of these mediums are Liquin by Winsor & Newton and Galkyd by Gamblin.
6. There are too many technical aspects involved!
As I mentioned before, don't allow yourself to get confused by tedious explanations from artists that have been doing this for decades and have very specific ways of working. I highly recommend learning the basic rules and tuning out all other specific recommendations that are right according to one artist and wrong according to the next. Stick to what matters and tune out the rest. You'll learn along the way!
Great Basic Oil Painting Supplies for Beginners
*Click on images to go directly to learn more about each product or visit www.consumercrafts.com to browse some great art supplies for yourself! :)
Aside from these supplies, you don't really need to buy much else! You probably already have everything else you'll need at home or can DIY it. For example, you can create a paint-mixing palette by carefully removing the glass from an old picture frame (cover its edges with masking tape so you don't cut yourself while painting). Find some disposable gloves that you use for cleaning (or you can do as I did and use the ones that come in hair dye boxes -haha). Use regular kitchen paper towels for staining your canvas and/or cleaning, and dish washing soap to wash your brushes when your done.
How I Create a Still Life Painting
Thanks so much for dropping by and checking out my work. I really appreciate it! And if you're a beginner/intermediate artist looking to improve your skills and find your voice, make sure to check out past blog posts!
Hey there, creative friends!
In this week's blog post, I'll be sharing some of my recent sketchbook entries and finished paintings (both watercolor and oils).
As far as sketchbook work, I continue challenging myself whenever I'm able to, focusing on subjects that are difficult for me. For these last entries, I practiced female figure studies and a male portrait (I rarely draw men!).
The oil paintings included here are two in my new landscape series. I have now completed three out of the five I will be selling. Very soon, I'll be sharing progress of the fourth one. So do follow me on Instagram if you wish to know how that goes! Once I complete these five landscapes, I'm going to be working on five still lives. I currently sell my original artwork only in Mexico, but have plans of opening online shops to ship to other countries in the near future! So due stay tuned! :)
The watercolor paintings included here, are part of the group of illustrations I created for the June calendar design I will be sending over to my e-mail subscribers very soon! At the end of each month, I send them free printable calendars in both Letter and Tabloid size featuring my illustrations. :)
If you'd like to become part of my insider group and receive these exclusive freebies, as well as helpful art content and news about offerings that will help you progress artistically, subscribe here:
Thanks so much for visiting and checking my work out! I really appreciate it!
If you're a beginner/intermediate artist looking to improve your work, do check out the posts below! I constantly produce helpful blog posts and YouTube videos with art tips, tutorials and encouragement!
Have a beautiful weekend!
Hey there, art friends!
I've been busier than usual the last couple of weeks because I'm launching my first two mini-courses, which will be free for my newsletter subscribers! These two mini-courses are intended for total beginners looking to start drawing and/or painting with watercolors and are coming out mid-May.
Each of these courses is three classes long (10-15 minutes each) and each class includes its own exercise I ask you to complete before moving forward. They are chock-full of information that I wish I had when I first started drawing and painting with watercolors. Knowing this information will not only give you a solid foundation to build skills upon, but will also help you save some money (we tend to buy supplies in the beginning that we really don't need).
To be notified as soon as they're out, make sure to subscribe to my list here:
Aside from working on my mini-courses and teaching my afternoon art classes, I'm continuing to challenge myself to improve my drawing skills, which is INCREDIBLY important, no matter what artistic medium you plan on developing skills in. The past couple of weeks, I've been sketching a lot of female figure studies, as well as portraits.
In case you're not following me on Instagram (instagram.com/erika_lancaster_art), you should! On there, I share what I'm up to on a daily basis. If you've already been following me, then you're probably aware that a couple of weeks ago I challenged myself to produce a total of five landscape paintings using oils. I've nearly completed the second, which I will be sharing soon! I'm including the first in this mini-collection of my latest artwork!
That's it for now, but stay tuned for much more to come!
I hope you're having a wonderful day and that you've been able to set aside at least a bit of time to work on your art!
Have you reached a point in your art journey at which you feel relatively confident about your skills but are anxious to find your own style and voice? Are you stuck with your art and feel that your own perfectionism and/or fear of failure is keeping you from moving forward?
"Create your own visual style... let it be unique for yourself
and yet identifiable for others."
There is a point in every artist's journey at which a substantial amount of time and effort has been dedicated to developing artistic skills, but the artist has yet to decide what ideas he/she wants to share with the world and what mediums, techniques and style will set him/her apart from others. It takes an immense amount of work, exploration and introspection to push through this point, but it's important to keep on until the breakthrough happens.
In my opinion, it's exactly THIS desire to push through the initial phase that differentiates a hobbyist from a pro. It's a point at which perfect rendering and technique becomes just as important as (or may even take back seat to) having an artwork transmit the ideas or feelings we are striving to transmit.
In this blog post, I will be sharing five very useful tips that will help you loosen up and express more of yourself through your art. It's this exploration that will help you discover yourself as an artist. If you're at this point, it's time to experiment fearlessly and push your limits!
I wrote a blog post several months ago in which I share an excellent method that you can apply to start discovering your own art style using other artists' work as inspiration. This strategy will be very useful for you in this stage, so make sure to check it out after this post.
How to Effectively Use Other Artists' Work as Inspiration and a Great Method to Start Developing Your Own Artistic Style.
Currently, I'm doing a lot of exploratory work with oils on canvas. If you've been following my work for any amount of time, you probably already know that I love working on smaller-scale watercolor illustrations. However, I've had the pleasure of creating larger decorative fine art for local clients and have really enjoyed it! I'm making time for oil painting as much as I can and am planning on selling my artwork internationally in the near future.
I'm working on a series of five large landscape oil paintings. I will be sharing these with you throughout the upcoming weeks so stay tuned!
5 Tips That Will Help You Become More Loose and Expressive When Creating Art
"Regularity, order, desire for perfection destroy art.
Irregularity is the basis of all art."
1. Gain confidence in your skills by learning and practicing
In order to draw or paint freely, you need to have a certain level of confidence in your skills. And the only way to truly gain confidence in anything, is by practicing first-handedly. Knowing Art Fundamentals inside and out is going to help you IMMENSELY, and is the basis for everything else.
Things like composition, harmony, proportion, color, perspective, texture, value, etc., have to be engrained in your head so that you can apply this knowledge naturally and organically as you are creating your artwork.
Aside from knowing Art Fundamentals, it's also imperative for you to have some experience working with whatever medium and supplies you're thinking of using. How are you going to paint or draw freely if you feel like you're constantly fighting with the medium?
The saying "Learn the rules before you can break them." applies here!
In my blog post titled Why Sketchbooks Are Essential Tools for Artists and A Few Usage Tips
I share how I personally use my sketchbooks on a daily basis to make sure I'm progressing continuously.
2. Prepare yourself mentally before you begin
It's absolutely essential to start a challenging piece in the right headspace. Once you have arrived at the idea of what you'll be creating, start with positivity and confidence. I've mentioned this before, but our minds are EXTREMELY powerful! Remember, if you think you're going to fail, you most likely will.
Now is the time to embrace experimentation and throw perfectionism out the window! Allow the magic to happen as you work with your medium and tools. Do your best to give up some of your control and allow your medium to do some of the speaking for itself.
3. Paint with larger brushes and, if possible, on a larger substrate
Painting/drawing at a larger scale will not only encourage more arm movement (which in turn leads to more dynamic work), but allows you to focus on larger shapes. Using a larger brush, or drawing tools like chalk or charcoal, also make it more difficult to obsess over tiny little details. This, in turn, challenges you to think about what is actually needed in your composition and what can be left out.
Not to mention, larger pieces are also (usually) meant to be viewed from farther away. At the moment of drawing or painting, step back and continuously remind yourself that the piece is meant to be appreciated from a distance.
If you're creating a painting, remember that your paintbrush is not meant to be held as a writing pencil or pen! Try holding it with your thumb and index finger, and keep the rest of your hand relaxed. Beginners have a tendency to hold brushes very close to the bristles to feel more in control. Try holding your brush farther up the handle, anywhere from halfway up to the tip.
Explore the different types of brush strokes your brushes are able to create, and the shapes and textures their bristles naturally leave behind. Load your paintbrushes with a good amount of paint so that there's more of a chance for interesting "natural" occurrences to happen.
4. Use music
Music can have such a deep impact on our mood and inspiration levels! I love creating a good, long playlist for myself prior to starting with a painting. Music helps keep my creativity flowing and my energy high for hours.
Our taste in music will vary from person to person, of course. Perhaps an artist looking to create an extremely dynamic abstract painting would be inspired by music with a faster/upbeat tempo. Whereas, another artist might find more relaxing, classical music more helpful.
Regardless of your taste in music, create a playlist that will help you stay positive, inspired and motivated to continue.
5. Learn to leave your brushstrokes alone
Do your best to place your brushstrokes (or lines if your drawing) with intention and then leave them alone! Allow the organic occurrences to happen and think of how you can use these effects to your advantage instead of trying to correct them or blend them out.
Stop yourself from pushing forward with actions that are really not really necessary. Try to do more with less and don't obsess over every tiny little accident!
Let go of the mental need to control everything!
I hope that you found this post helpful and that it encouraged you to keep exploring and moving forward with your art! I wish you all the best and remember to enjoy the process!
"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.
Art is knowing which ones to keep."
It's been a while since I last posted a little collection of my latest pieces and I wanted to share a few of them with you. I also want to let you into my personal life a bit every now and then, so that you can get to know me and what I've been up to.
Lately, I've been very busy taking business courses, networking with other artists/creative entrepreneurs both online and locally, doing commission work for clients, teaching my afternoon painting classes, and producing quality, helpful content for blog/YouTube channel. It's been a lot, but I REALLY want to make this work.
I constantly find myself wishing the day had more hours so that I could continue with my personal drawing and painting studies (as I should be), but right now I really have to prioritize my business goals if I don't want to go back to full-time employment.
I'm extremely happy to share that I'll be traveling to Toronto at the end of March! It's been a dream of mine to visit Canada for many, many years! At some point in April I'll be sharing photos and videos of my trip, things and places I was inspired by, and other great things.
Because I'll be taking a week of from blogging and YouTube March 28th-April 4th, I'll be working extra hard to create awesome content before I leave AND I have BIG things planned for April which I will be sharing with you very soon! :) Stay tuned for that!
Hope you've been able to work on your art as well.
As busy as life can get, try your best to make time for it!
Talk to you soon!
New Saint Patrick's Day and Spring-inspired products at my online shops!
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