When I first tried to paint I was in digs at University. Fortunately I was staying with a potter who was, herself, very creative and allowed me to paint in my room there. (In fact my bedroom was over the kiln which kept me lovely and warm on those cold Cambridge nights.)
I actually started painting with oils. I knew nothing about any kind of painting at all except what my mother had taught me. She had studied art as a young woman and, before I left for University, she gave her oil paints and brushes to me. She showed me how to clean them and then let me get on with it.
That’s one of the brilliant things about my mum. She has this gift for letting those she is teaching have a go at things and work things out for themselves freely. She pushed us to think for ourselves. Professionally she was a superb teacher (now retired). She gave me this sense that I could do anything if I put my mind to it and worked hard at it.
So I didn’t think anything of using my Saturday afternoons at University to try to paint a picture of the Crucifiction with oils the first time I ever really tried them.
The picture itself wasn’t massively successful – I should have concentrated more on my anatomy as I’m sure I gave poor Jesus too many ribs! Anyhow, this is the only photo I have now of that picture…
Along with a close up of some of the detail…
I do remember really enjoying painting with oils and them being incredibly smelly to have in my bedroom!
Today I saw a brilliant video on YouTube on how to use oils. The artist was using a medium called Liquin (made by Winsor and Newton I think) which dries quite fast but still gives hours of wet time for blending and moving the paint around.
Here’s the video. It’s by Lachri…
When I started art again as an adult I painted in Acrylics, which was fun but very fast drying.
Even using copious amounts of retarder to extend the wet time of the paint, I still found it dried too quickly for me. I was forever racing the drying time.
What I really love about using paint as a medium generally is the ability to blend the tone and colour to get exactly what I want. With copic markers and pencils, colour and tone choices are necessarily limited. The Acrylics were technically able to get there but I never found there was enough time to play with it. Watching Lachri blending in her video (above) makes it look like blending is more relaxed in oils, maybe because the paint stays wet for much longer. I think it would be brilliant to try oils again and find out what it’s like as I can’t remember the details of using them in my youth.
Also, I really loved the way she painted a tonal picture at the start and then glazed over with colour – what an amazing way to do it! I totally love that!
So I’m thinking about getting a small set of oils and having a go. I’m going to have to research which materials to use, especially with respect to drying times and odour. But it might be fun!