Wednesday, October 21, 2009

help wanted

I did it! For years now I've been promising myself that I'll invest in oil paints. I loved using them at university, but when I started painting again in 2001 (after a way-too-long-to-mention break) I hemmed and hawed for a bit, then decided on acrylics for ease/economy/ low toxicity. I liked them immediately though I'd never used them before. They suit my graphic/layered style very nicely though, granted, it was a style that developed as I learned to handle this new medium. (Which came first -- the chicken or the egg?) Anyway, for years I said to myself, "When I make X amount or sell this much I will treat myself" ... and never did. I realize now that the whole idea of 'treating myself' was what was holding me back. I was considering this a luxury rather than a business expense (a huge, blind pothole in the road of artists who are second-income earners). After all, there's always a transmission to replace, teeth to straighten, vet bills to pay, etc. So when I realized that the series of paintings I've had germinating in my brain for the past few months would work better in oils rather than acrylics I knew it was time to pony up and make the investment. I waited until I was paid for the Texas commission, though! :)

I'm hoping using oil paint will breathe new life into my work and that my attitude won't sabotage my fun. What attitude you ask? Robert Genn summed up my approach using a very positive spin in a recent letter:

Esoterica: There are two kinds of students--recipe takers and recipe fighters. The former listen to the instructor, try to get it "right," and often succeed in doing so. The latter strike out on their own, pay the price of rugged individualism, and fail often. In art, it's all about failure. In art, the journey outshines the destination. In art, mistakes are golden.

I'm one of those golden forgers of grand mistakes. I'm the person who hates asking for directions (fortunately I love maps), never reads the instructions, and nods off when given an explanation that consists of more than two steps. I love to putter and explore. I get frustrated. I throw a lot of stuff out. So tackling the materials is going to be a bit of a learning curve for me. Here's what I got to get me started:

There are eight colours of Gamblin paint, plus black and white. I was looking for Liquin but they were all out so I got Galkyd as a medium. I don't use medium with acrylic so I'm not sure what to make of it. I bought three brushes that I won't use with my acrylic paint and old-fashioned "The Masters" brush cleaner. Oil painters: am I on the right track? What should I use to rinse my brush between colours? Should I use rags or paper towels? How much medium should I use with my paint? I also discovered this old can of Ecolse Quick-Drying Oil Painting Medium III at the back of a cupboard. Is it any good and, more to the point, will it still be any good? Also, if you know of any on-line info that is short (very short) and sweet, please point me in the right direction.

Before I get to play, though, I have to do two more of the landscape-plus-goodies drawings for Effusion Gallery. Do you think I have enough discipline to keep my fingers off those tubes?


Blogger dinahmow said...

SheeeT! We *are* clones! Well, at least in the do it my way stakes!
When I teach (whatever the subject) I tell the students to listen, take notes, do more research if they want to, but learn the basics (the rules, if you like) and then you can bend them.
Advice on oils from me? Don't wear good clothes! ;-)

21/10/09 6:03 p.m.  
Blogger Kikipotamus said...

Good for you for giving yourself permission to buy the oils. I need to learn to loosen up and bend rules more. I am getting there.

21/10/09 7:04 p.m.  
Blogger andrea pratt said...

Dinah: I need someone to cram the basics down my throat.

Kiki: To bend the rules successfully you'll need to work harder on that laziness thing. (I have it perfected.)

21/10/09 7:20 p.m.  
Blogger Ellen said...

wet probably has good basic info. Rags never paper towels, (they'll leave lint).

GO PLAY (well after you finish your Effusion stuff), it doesn't really matter about the rest, fat over lean is the only golden rule to avoid cracking later. Like Dinah said prepare to get messy.Also Galkyd is super stinky so open some windows too. It's also quick drying and if you want more translucency use more rather than less (there's no recipe ratio)and put your opaque colours on top, using less medium. I dip my brushes in mineral spirits, then wipe with rags between colours (cleaning is my least favourite thing about oils). But having said all that, a lot of how much of this or that you use is dependent on what style your painting in - glazes? or textural and impasto? or both? Just experiment.

I so want to know what your planning to paint! Tell me, in email if you must, I want to know!

21/10/09 7:29 p.m.  
Blogger sonya said...

This is indeed exciting news Andrea! I'm proud of you! But then again, I'm always proud of you. My Grandfather the Dutch artist could probably have given you a few hints on using oils but sadly his time was up long, long ago (1926).

21/10/09 7:36 p.m.  
Blogger dinahmow said...

Yes, I'm with Ellen - we want to know what's in the pipeline!

21/10/09 8:29 p.m.  
Blogger Kelly said...

....hmmmm....I haven't used oil paints since 1979 in high school. They look good! Have fun.... Love all the color in the painting.

21/10/09 10:32 p.m.  
Blogger albina said...

'fat over lean'(explanation in one of the links below), proper ventilation, rugs... More tips and tricks here:

...and a very good book to have to answer questions etc. here:

have fun!!!!!!!!

22/10/09 5:31 a.m.  
Blogger Angela Wales Rockett said...


22/10/09 9:37 a.m.  
Blogger andrea pratt said...

Ellen: Way back when I remember getting these rolls of rag-like paper towels that were lint free. I wonder if they still exist? (Where do you get your mineral spirits?) I will update you next week. It's still half-formed. (Or was that half baked?)

Sonya: Or maybe he could've given me a little lesson in egg tempera!

Di: I'll tell you when you reveal more of your former lives! (Yes -- it's called blackmail. :)

Kelly: Oil paints in high school? Wow. With funding these days in this area they're lucky to get a piece of blackened stick and a cave wall.

Albina: Thanks and .... rugs?

Angela: I know -- and incentive to get the other project done!

22/10/09 3:53 p.m.  
Blogger Heather Plett said...

Ooo... I love that quote! I'm a great "maker of mistakes" as my recent foray would attest. It's nice to have that acknowledged as a good thing instead of a weakness. :-)

Enjoy the paints! I bought some acrylics recently, after the fun I had with watercolours, and I'm having great fun with them, but I don't have a clue what I'm doing. Ha - just makin' mistakes and having fun!

22/10/09 5:13 p.m.  
Blogger Melody said...

oooh can't wait to see what you come with.....please share...

23/10/09 2:32 p.m.  
Blogger albina said...

rags... tee-he... ESL, my dear :)

23/10/09 6:01 p.m.  
Blogger andrea pratt said...

Heather: The great thing about acrylics is how forgiving -- and how versatile -- they are.

Melody: I'm an exhibitionist by nature... :)

Albina: ESL? What does that mean? "Errr... stupid loser"? :)

23/10/09 6:27 p.m.  
Blogger andrea pratt said...

Albina: Oops -- you meant you -- not me! :)

23/10/09 6:28 p.m.  
Blogger Costescu said...

Good for you trying oils, I have wanted to try them for years but need to wait a few more years so recently bought a ton of acrylics to try out. They were on sale for 50% off so I felt HAD to buy them, that helped with the guilt ;)

I am excited to see what you will do with the oils as your colors are already so rich in acrylic! One other site I really like is A Stroke of Genius but it is mostly portraits but also most of the artists paint in oils and give some good tips.

25/10/09 9:53 a.m.  
Blogger self taught artist said...

yeah good for you! go for it!
i'm smiling, i use those little trays too, found some at a good will a few years ago and love them.
good to come back here and catch up on your blog posts. love your art/mind.

31/10/09 9:00 a.m.  

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