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Painting is Easy

October 27, 2013

detail_Gauvin oil painting

Few will ever try painting a horse or a sunset. Yet they'll know your painting is 'wrong.'   How can you get the knowledge needed when...

For whatever reason, you didn't go to University or Art School, so you need to go DIY for your training. Good for you! This is the best way, in my opinion, to preserve the one thing you have to offer the world. It is your own, unique way of seeing and putting that vision on paper or canvas so others can see it. Formal art training in youth often seems to work against that.

Perhaps too much knowledge of Art History stifles personal creativity. Maybe the example of all those geniuses we can never hope to match is just too daunting. Right now, you need to learn the 'How' part of painting. No amount of reading about famous artists or the various Movements they founded will teach you how to actually paint. Here are 3 useful avenues to try in your search for knowledge.

1.The Internet offers myriad low-cost options.
 You-tube videos by working artists demonstrate all kinds of techniques. Just enter a search term and watch. Make notes as the lesson progresses and try it out in your own studio. Websites offer artist blogs and courses of endless variety, some of them free. Online magazines publish how-to articles by artists. You can sign up for e-mail alerts to new publications.

2.Your local library holds a treasure-trove of books.
For the small cost of membership, you'll find a book on any aspect of painting techniques and materials. If a book is really helpful, you'll want it to keep at hand in your studio. Seek out a copy at the local book exchange or save to buy it at the retail bookshop. Books on subjects such as Human Anatomy and Anatomical Drawing, Perspective Drawing or the Chemistry of Pigments are an investment in your career. For any style except Colour Field' painting, you'll consult them often.

3.Find an artist who gives lessons in your area.
Getting real-time lessons is the ultimate way to learn but teachers are not all equal in value. Here are some points to look for in a good artist-teacher.

Lessons should be not more than a week apart.
Class groups should number fewer than 20, with fewer than 12 being ideal.
Cost per hour should be stated upfront and notice given before any increase.
Check if you'll be required to buy materials for the lesson or can bring your own.

  • If you don't like this artist-teacher's own work, don't worry about it. You're there to learn technique and if the teacher can convey that, your time and money is well-spent.
  • Caution: if, on day one, the 'teacher' puts up a calendar picture or a poster print of a painting and asks the class to copy it – leave the room at the first tactful opportunity. You'll learn nothing there.


TIP_Don't waste your time 're-inventing the wheel.'  In the end, your best teacher is yourself. Like a virtuoso pianist, your facility comes at the price of regular practice. Along the way, you'll make discoveries about painting, unique to you. However, some training in the basics from those who know, saves a lot of time 're-inventing the wheel' instead of creating.©Dorothy Gauvin

 

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