Earlier last year, I took my very first oil painting class EVER! Believe it or not, I attended a University for four years, and received a Bachelor of Fine Art degree, and I never took one oil-painting instructional class.
I graduated from the University of Dayton, Ohio in 1993. My BFA degree is in Visual Communication Design, with a concentration in Illustration. I learned painting for many of my class assignments, but it was always with the goal of using the paintings (illustrations) in some other form of printed media… like books, advertising, or corporate use (logos, storyboards, presentation materials). Usually, the paintings were done using either acrylic paint or gouache.
Since I was not majoring in Fine Art, I never learned the intricacies of traditional canvas painting, like working with oils, stretching canvasses, establishing gallery connections, etc.
I am blessed with so much fantastic knowledge from earning my degree. I still reflect on what I learned, more than twenty years ago now, with so much gratitude. I have learned how to adapt my knowledge to create illustrations on walls, floors and ceilings by establishing a thriving mural-painting business. In the past, I acquired on-the-job-training, learning to work on computers doing digital illustration. That experience allowed me the ability to create all my own marketing materials, website, and even publish my own products which feature my illustrations.
And, so, when my friend Melissa Talma (wonderful friend of mine & truly gifted artist –here’s her website) convinced me to take an oil painting class with her at our local art store (The Art Store, Henrietta, NY), I admit, I felt some anxiety about learning a new skill! Luckily, it was immediately followed by the excitement and positivity of going the next step in a very exciting journey as an artist.
The class was taught by Patricia Tribastone. I am completely in awe of her work. Tip: If you choose to take an art class, pick a teacher whose art style you admire! She is not only a gifted artist, but also a patient, friendly teacher as well. I liked that she demonstrated techniques to us first, starting with a blank canvas and showing us everything we needed to create a whole painting. The style we learned was called “alla prima”, literally translated from Italian “at first attempt”, meaning a wet-on-wet painting, typically completed in one session. It’s also referred to as the “direct painting” method.
I have completely fallen IN LOVE with oil painting. Yes, acrylic is the logical choice for murals – and some paintings. But, there are so many qualities of oil paint that I truly love. I love how soft and pliable the paint is, how smooth it goes on the canvas. I love the color depth. I love that the slow dry-time allows me to blend colors.
The paints that Pat recommended are M Graham brand oils, because they are made with walnut oil. She had us use walnut oil as a solvent. The walnut oil replaces the highly toxic chemical-based solvents that are very harmful to the environment and to artists, and it is really fun to work with. I love the smell, and it is perfectly safe!! I buy it at our local gourmet grocery store, Wegmans!
I will also add that although the “alla prima” method is done in one sitting, I found that doing a whole painting in one session doesn’t fit my lifestyle very well. My paintings are done in my studio. I have worked on a few oil paintings since taking the class, and I find that I can finish one in about 3-4 sessions. It allows me to go back in and add the level of detail that is characteristic of my style. My decades of experience with painting in acrylics have served me well, and so developing my style in this new medium is going pretty well, so far. The biggest lesson is not laying my hand on the wet canvas! Some colors take up to 2 or 3 weeks to dry! Acrylics dry within minutes. This has been the biggest adjustment! I am practicing patience!
I am working on several more oil paintings, which I will sell. This is new for me; I am ready to let my own artistic voice speak for itself. This year I am looking forward to painting some big, beautiful murals, building the wholesale market on my illustrated alphabet letter cards, and creating and selling paintings that really lift my soul. I believe that there are buyers out there for my paintings. Help me spread the word! I believe that each painting I create that really inspires me will find it’s way to it’s ideal home and continue to inspire.
Here’s the first oil painting that I’ve done for sale ~ I call it “A, Bird, Cup”. This painting is FOR SALE on my Etsy shopping page!
And another one, which I call “Pitcher, Quince, Radish” is in progress. It should be available in a couple of weeks. I’m not sure how long it will take to dry! I’m still learning!! :)