I’d like to introduce you to Sue and Jude who have both just completed their first oil paintings on a 4-session course. This is after a mere 12 hours of painting!
They began with greyscale sample boards and grey tonal paintings using only black and white. The second artwork was to paint the same still life in colour. They could change the viewpoint or format (portrait / landscape) if they wished. Sue has never tried oils before and since retiring, has worked almost entirely on her own, doing mostly small pencil sketches and little watercolours.
She was very very nervous at first, but once she realised how easily mistakes can be sorted out she relaxed into her painting. The third lesson was a bit of a meltdown when she felt as though she couldn’t make anything work. This was made worse by the previous day of the NHS behaving badly over her husband’s illness!
Sue said: On the third lesson I felt as if I couldn’t do a thing right. Nothing I was doing was going well. Lin was calm (I was not), helpful and not at all fazed by my frustration. The next lesson, everything started to fall into place again, so don’t give up if one lesson goes hard for you. Lin is very encouraging.”
In the end she was really chuffed with her paintings and excited about using oils as a medium. Just look at the reflection of light on the walls in the still life and the three dimensionality of the lemon.
I find in teaching that after a break, people relax a little but they also slip into old habits and haven’t yet consolidated what they experienced initially. On a one-day course it is usually after lunch that it is the worst, when you have had loads of input, new things to take on board, are digesting a meal and feel as though you ought to know what to do.
Jude has not really picked up a paintbrush since her school days – other than to do decorating or home-beautifying projects. So she was really surprised and excited by just how much she enjoyed her painting course and can’t wait to the do next one.
She says: “My artistic experience was very limited; basic art at school, which was not encouraged. However I think I’ve always been a little interested because my father used to do pen and ink drawings and he bought me a set of pens which I used for a time. Mainly doing little pictures to illustrate my social history classes when about 14 yrs old.
When I first walked into the studio I had a mixture of fear and excitement, thankfully the excitement took over and after my first session I felt really uplifted and couldn’t wait for the next class.
The first interesting thing I learnt was they one doesn’t have to start at the top of the painting or even with the background. Building on the painting gradually, letting things flow in together was new to me, but then most of it was, I just had preconceived ideas.
Learning to mix colours to achieve different shades and learning about the different brushes to use made the whole painting experience easier and come to life”.
In my teaching I try to meet the students at their level, so if they are really comfortable and understand colour mixing (using complementaries) I leave them to get on with it. However I am always happy to go back to basics of how to mix colours or draw accurately. So although this class is for absolute beginners, there is room for different levels of experience and different speeds of working. Some people will only be there to learn how to use oil paints and that’s fine too!
Read a little more about “what the students say” about oil painting at Limetrees.