Completed nearly forty years ago when I was in the 5th grade, and affectionately dubbed "Sunrise Over Fruit Bowl" by Massachusetts artist Debbi Friedman, the above was my first (and last) oil painting.
I have been interested in the arts from a very young age: drawing more so than painting, whether in graphite, colored pencil, or pen-and-ink. Drawing always seemed to come very naturally to me, and I have done precious little painting over time. Since returning to my artwork several years ago however, I have increasingly had the desire to try my hand at oil painting. I mean, really............how hard can it be?, I thought.
Gradually over the past few months, I have collected those items that I knew would be needed to make an attempt at oil painting: a canvas, brushes, linseed oil, odorless turpentine, stand oil, palette, and brush cleaner. Then little more than a week ago I took the final step and purchased five tubes of oil paint -- black, white, cadmium red, cobalt blue, and cadmium yellow. I remembered hearing that any color can be mixed from the three primary colors, so no need to go overboard, right? Debbi was quick to let me know that I may want to invest in more colors, but really, once again............how difficult could this paint mixing be? And besides: I was simply experimenting........trying it out. (THIS assessment from a woman with 400 different pencil colors.)
So, three mornings ago I decided that that was the day. Given the fact that there is a work-in-progress in my drawing room currently, I chose to spread my newly acquired oil painting supplies strategically around on the kitchen table -- and I sat down to get to work.
The self-commentary and inane questions began almost immediately. Is it possible to layer this dark-to-light, in much the same way I do colored pencils? (Uh.......no.)........ What is meant by the term "glaze" as it pertains to oil painting?........ I don't think I bought enough oil painting brushes; I wonder how water color brushes will work............... Is it best to work wet-on-wet?.......or wet-on-dry? For what reason did I buy stand oil? I can't remember...............I can't believe that some artists produce such stunning portraits with this..................... If I thin the paint with turpentine as opposed to linseed oil, will it dry faster? (At some point during all this I burst out into a loud hyena-like laugh, causing the retrievers to look up in an alarmed fashion.) How do you stir this stuff???........ Its thirty-eight degrees outside; is it really necessary that I well-ventilate this room?........... I think Debbi was right; I need more colors............ What exactly is meant by the term viscosity? (The property of a fluid that resists the force that tends to cause that fluid to flow.)
You get where I'm going here: this was no easy feat for me. After nearly an hour of........um........."painting", I put away my supplies and returned to my drafting table to lick the wounds on my bruised artistic ego. (The fact that I recently encouraged another artist to keep at it, despite his unfamiliarity with sanded pastel paper, comes to mind.) And I will keep at it, perhaps engaging in my second painting session sometime this week -- using the things I learned not to do from last week's adventure (and right after I obtain more paint colors). Needless to say, my admiration for those who paint has increased dramatically.
The result of my endeavor was an unrecognizable blue jay feather. Debbi said that feathers are difficult, which made me feel a little better (even if she was saying it for that purpose). Another close friend, Elizabeth Patterson of California, summed the experience up with, "I think that maybe you need to take a class".
Clearly. (loud hyena-like laugh)