three plums

Painting a day challenge

Are you like me and wanting to improve your skills in painting. Do you feel as though you’re treading water and not getting any better?.

We let me share my journey so far, and you can grab tips to improve yourself.

I have owned a small collection of oil paints, brushes and canvases for a few years. Then when moments of inspiration came, I would drag them out, dust off the brushes and easel, and paint away.

Trouble is, what I imagined or saw in front of me was never what appeared on the canvas. I got disappointed, gave up again for a few months. That is till I forgot and inspiration grabbed me again.

Can you see the circle I was taking? Are you doing the same thing?

I can now. Looking back. I wanted to improve, but I can’t paint that well, so I’d stop, and then wonder why I can’t paint as I imagined.
I kept watching shows, youtube channels, I have books, all on how these people painted. Why can’t I do that.
Even with digital, I mean I own a Wacom graphics tablet. I play in ArtRage. But I don’t come out with many finished pieces.
A handful, maybe.

Am I just one of those naturally untalented people who are good for nothing hands on.

It drags bad memories into my head when I was back in metalwork class at school.
Among my stories are of making a mirror plastic mirror stand.
We had to make a mirror stand out of acrylic plastic.
We brought a mirror tile, drew a shape that would stand up.
So first we drew a shape on a blank sheet, when we got something we was happy with. Then picked a piece of acrylic of the colour we like. We drew our design on the paper on the plastic. Cut it out roughly, beveled the edged all the way around. Over a small bar heater coil, warmed and bent the plastic.
Finally removing the paper covering, attached the mirror tile.
Doesn’t sound difficult does it.
Well, it took me two years. To complete that simple exercise.
Good job we wasn’t on a piece rate.

I have loads of practical stories like that. I’m a nightmare.

So, how with this running around my head, making me want to give up, do I improve.
I am not on a lot of money, so personal tuition is well off the menu.
Like you, If I truly want to improve, I have to find a secret.

Well, here it is.

Currently, I paint on small canvas boards I can get in six packs, like these here on Amazon.

I use some student grade, Winsor and Newton oils, here is a link to Winsor and Newtons Lemon Yellow, a really great colour.

Also both Hogs hair and synthetic brushes, hogs hair to the initial layer, and softer synthetic to adjust the tones, lay in details, general refinements.

Then battle to improve in any field you are passionate about is practice. You have to do the work. Sure watching videos is great, but you have to practice. Like everything though, you will feel as though you are getting nowhere sometimes, you are though.

I did try to paint with images on my ipad, but I want to paint from life. I want to set-up, mess up, and improve.

I am painting Monday to Friday, if things crop up and I have to miss a day, never mind, but the following day, I make sure I do one.

The real battle for me, and I guess most people is that negative nancy talking in your own head.

It used to be getting started, oh the lights not right, I don’t have a basket of fruit, a model, or sunset on the River Thames to paint.

Paint anything, I do, if I need a model, I grab a mirror, I do a self portrait. I pick up random things around, lay them out in some sort of composition, and paint away.

Let yourself enjoy the moment, relax forget about your worries.
If I need fruit, or doing a still life, I grab what I have. Hey, I have even painted my old Apple Mouse.
Landscapes, I look out of the window, the light changes with the time of day, where the sun is.
Another tip, why I keep my canvases small, they are only a 5 by 7 inches. I can spend time in really trying to get the shapes and colours right, without having to commit 6 hours or more to finish a larger painting.

Two reasons, I can’t afford huge canvases at the minute, and two, I like most others have other commitments during the day.
Education wise, I never did an art class at school. The gits kept me in metal work and wood work.

One time, we had to varnish and sand a finished piece. The last layer of varnish wasn’t meant to sanded. Foolish me, I kept doing it. I must have varnished that lump of wood a dozen times.

Anyway, self tutoring, I love some channels on youtube, some are just their to self promote, but if you look around you can find some people who give advice.

I keep a sketchbook with me most places I go, trying to sketch people. People fascinate me, the way they hold themselves. Trying to capture them in life. Real scenes, real people.

Another final tip is this, If you are really feeling creative, you had a few great days, feeling pleased with yourself. I resist temptation in grabbing another canvas. I keep the energy and excitement for the following session, and feel really good for yourself all day.

So that is what I have learned so far, when I get up, put the old canvas board somewhere safe, because oils take an age to dry.
Shower, dress, grab a cup of tea, medication.

While I am waking up, I think about a subject to paint. Fruit, glasses, me, empty bottles of aftershave. All sorts, I don’t really mind for the subject, it’s how I see and paint it.

I do a really rough sketch in charcoal, under painting in acrylics (these a really cheap, but it’s mainly to block in, set a mood.).

Then I grab the oils, I limit myself to around 4 or 5 tubes, a red, yellow, blue, white and some kinda brown.

I’m not keen on a black, you can make a black from the brown and blue, if you pick the right shades.

If I have a bad day, never mind, try again tomorrow, even if it’s visiting a subject you have painted before and did a fine job with.

I do hope these tips of what i have gathered so far help you in your journey, like they are me.

One later tip, I try and limit that amount of colours on my palette, so things don’t get too muddy. But a great book on colour and how it really works is this one, I have a copy on shelf also.

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