To oil paint or not to oil paint....

Posted by Elissa Baltzer on March 16, 2013 at 6:45 PM

So here I am on the precipice of a new (to this decade of my life) medium. Holding my breath and thinking hard. Trying to screw up my courage to jump off into the unknown creative vastness that is oil paint.

When I was, oh let's say, eight or nine this was possibly the first real painting medium I worked in (besides tempra paints at school and what not). My Mom and I went to a painting class given somewheres in one of the buildings on what was then CFB Cornwallis about 10 minutes from the village I called home in Nova Scotia. I loved working with the oils, didn't like the smell of them though and really wasn't crazy about the herbal teas served in class that the adults liked. I was by far the youngest member of the class. I liked to work with lots of texture (something I had completely forgotten about until my Mother recently found one of my old oil paintings from back then). I worked in bold colours, oranges and greens, and painted still lifes(something I almost never do now). It was a whole new world of painting discovery back at that age, inside the wierd mint green walls of the classroom under the bright flourescent lights. I had no fear of what might go wrong I was just figuring out how to do something and thus not so concerned with the destination as the journey to get there. Then our class finished and that was the end of my oil painting career for the first decade of my life. I'd taken up writing and moved on to other things as we are wont to do at that young age where there is so much to discover going on all around us.

Here I am a couple of decades later trying to encourage myself to take to take the plunge again. I have the paints. I have the mediums. I have the brushes. The only thing I'm low on is courage to jump from the fast drying medium of acrylics into the slow drying medium of oils. I've had lots of Q & A sessions wih various oils painters I know and they all love oils, they encourage me and hand over lots of tips and tricks. One recently told me that the rule of thumb is you make 2 bad paintings when you switch over, trying to figure everything out, and then it's fine from there on in.

Recently however I had the extreme good luck to sit through a 400 level university course during a 4 week pose as a model and listen to a fantastic teacher walk to students through all of the steps of creating an oil painting. In listening to this amazing woman teach I realised I could do this. If I was lucky I might even bypass the two terrible paintings to get to the good painting part having watched a class of twenty students make it through unscathed themselves. I have hope.

So steeled with all of this knowledge and bravado I feel like I'm ready to take the plunge. It may be minutes, hours, days or weeks until my paint brush touches the canvas with oils but I'm ready to go...I just can't help but think this would be so much easier if I had the carefree lack of attachment I had at the ripe old age of eight or nine when I tried oils for the first time! ;)

Categories: My Artwork/ Mon Art, Life Model/ Modèle vivant

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Reply ellie
11:13 PM on March 16, 2013 
talk to that little girl from 2 decades ago. she'll probably tell you to jump right in and not to worry about having 2 or 10 or zero terrible paintings.
Reply Elissa Baltzer
10:42 AM on March 17, 2013 
I'm sure you're right Ellie! ;)

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