View Full Version : My first oil painting UPDATE: Finally Finished!
August 10th, 2009, 05:43 PM
UPDATE: Finally Finished!
Hello fine artists!
I wasn't positive where exactly to start this thread, but I think the fine art crowd will be able to help me most. If I posted in error, I'm sure the mods will put me in my proper place.
I'm embarking on my first oil painting and I'm very excited. I work mostly digitally.
Eventually I'd like to use this thread to track my painting's progress, but in the meanwhile, if you have some helpful tips and/or pointers, I'd appreciate any and all words of advice before I get started.
August 10th, 2009, 11:07 PM
don't be afraid to be loose with the paint, paint isn't precious- don't think twice about putting it on the canvas and really working it. that was my biggest problem at first, I was almost intimidated by the paint. don't be afraid to take what you've done away either, wipe it off if it's not working for you.
hope that helps a little at least... mabye. =)
August 10th, 2009, 11:21 PM
well, don't hesitate, but don't just throw paint around in haphazard way either. Painting requires careful thought and concentration, the amount of analysis in regard to shape, color, value and placement that you put into each stroke will show.
In general, work from big to small, general to specific, start your paint thin and work more solidly on top. keep most of our edges soft...not mushy, but soft. Also, realize that most objects are not highly chromatic, most of the things we see are composed of harmonious grays.
August 10th, 2009, 11:51 PM
Many thanks guys! I read something online about fat-over-lean. Is this something I should be diligent about?
August 11th, 2009, 12:15 AM
it'll work to your advantage if you keep it in mind. use mineral spirits or turp to keep your paint thin in the beginning when establishing a wash...then use more solid paint (without medium)...THEN use paint thinned with oil if you want. Incidentally I've heard of people doing their first pass in solid oil color, then letting it dry and modifying it with oil thinned paint.
August 11th, 2009, 10:40 AM
I've got linseed oil - just as good?
August 11th, 2009, 01:49 PM
the oil i'm referring to in the later stages (fat medium) is linseed oil, so yes.
August 11th, 2009, 03:05 PM
When it comes to mixing styles and pallet set up I really like what Fletcher suggests. Follow the Link in my sig and give it a read. Might save ya some experimenting time.
August 13th, 2009, 01:38 PM
Started with a pencil sketch that I tweaked and "inked" in photoshop. Then I got to work transferring my sketch to my canvas. I guess most artists use a projector for this sort of thing? I don't own one, so I divided my canvas and sketch into a grid and worked that way. Not a perfect method, but okay for now...
I know it's early, but I already feel like I've bitten off more than I can chew. Not good.
August 14th, 2009, 04:25 AM
I guess most artists use a projector for this sort of thing? I don't own one, so I divided my canvas and sketch into a grid and worked that way. Not a perfect method, but okay for now...
I know it's early, but I already feel like I've bitten off more than I can chew. Not good.
You can easily transfer your drawing by making a photocopy of it, apply charcoal to the back of the copy, lay it over your canvas ( preferably unstretched) and then going over your lines or most important landmarks by pressing lightly with a pencil. Then you can ink in your drawing with fluid paint. I usually make sure when I ink in that I use a fairly low chroma mixture that is not too dark. (raw umber and white for example)
The size of the canvas you're working on seems quite large for a first oil painting. A smaller canvas might be less intimidating.
August 14th, 2009, 10:36 AM
Thanks for the tip Tom. Yeah, I'm working on an 18x24 canvas. It's actually a gift for my wife. I would have liked to have experimented a bit first, but there's something exciting about plunging right into it also.
I've definitely lost some of the likeness in transferring the sketch. But I think that's good in a way because it will encourage me to explore with the paint rather than feeling beholden to the sketch.
August 14th, 2009, 10:43 AM
That's a lovely present for sure! :)
Jeff, it depends what your goals are. If you want to get a likeness it's best that you build upon accurate foundations. If there's one thing I've learned so far it is not to ignore mistakes, hoping to fix it in later stages of the painting! It nearly always comes back to hit me in the face.
In this stage, you can easily correct when you ink in the lines on your canvas. Also, the painting will progress faster if you build upon something that is correct even though at first it may take a bit longer.
Good luck & happy painting!
August 14th, 2009, 03:20 PM
Hey Tom, took your advice and worked the sketch a bit more during the "inking" stage. I'm glad I did, but it's still not where I want it to be. To be honest, I found it impossible to do delicate line work. I have extremely unsteady hands (which is part of the reason that digital work is so good for me) and man, I was just having all sorts of trouble with my brushstrokes. Any further refinement is going to have to wait until I start throwing some real paint on there. As it is, I ended up laying the paint on a bit thicker than I'd intended. Hopefully as I start layering paint, I'll be able to recapture some of the likeness that I've lost from the sketch.
August 17th, 2009, 11:38 AM
I've run into another quandary. I knew from the outset that it would be very difficult to give the painting proper drying time while simultaneously concealing it from my wife. Furthermore, I knew that this early stage would require additional dry time since the paints have been so diluted with linseed oil. I was hoping that the weekend would be adequate but alas, I uncovered the painting from its hiding spot this morning and it had hardly dried at all. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. It looks like I'm going to have to alternate days when I paint with days when I leave the canvas out to dry, since it seems any hope I had that the canvas might dry a bit while covered and hidden has been dashed. I've read about white alkyd paint aiding the speed of drying - Does anyone else have any useful tips for drying oils? Would running a fan in the canvas's vicinity be helpful or harmful?
Very disappointed that I won't be able to get any painting done today. :[
August 17th, 2009, 11:47 AM
if i'm on a deadline i mix liquin in with my paint. it' speeds the drying time up to about a day or two. most of the time my paint is dry within 24 hours.
August 17th, 2009, 11:31 PM
Right now you should definitely not be thinning with linseed oil. If you are concerned with toxicity of mineral spirits, turpentine, and the like, then at least use winsor and newtons drying linseed oil that has an added metallic drier. also, winsor and newton has a very fast drying " underpainting white". I'm sure alkyds would dry even quicker but I've never personally used them. For decreased drying time, make your layers as thin as possible. By that I do not mean thinned with a medium, but don't let your paint build up an impasto. For a process that might be easy for you I would recommend one underpainting layer to sort out values, then another once the first dries to perfect the likeness. After that, a thin glaze with the dominant color over the entire painting, and then work your broken color and extra highlights, details and other artsy things into that.
Good luck with the painting and the hiding, I've had as many problems with the latter as the former.
August 18th, 2009, 10:43 AM
Hey Chris, was just checking out your sketchbook. You're a phenomenal talent.
Thanks for the tips. Yeah, I was quickly arriving at the conclusion that I'd misunderstood and done something wrong. Even today this crap isn't dry yet. I've wiped as much of the excess paint off as I could without ruining the sketch. I'm hoping that by tomorrow I can get back to painting, but if it's still wet tomorrow I'll have to just start over, I guess. I can't keep waiting forever.
I'm definitely going to pick up some sort of thinner/ drying agent.
August 19th, 2009, 06:12 AM
In my opinion it would be best for you to just wipe it ALL off, and start over. it seems you've already learned a bit of what you're doing and I bet you might already be feeling regret that you didn't have the knowledge you did when you first started. Any pigment left from the wipe away will leave a tone that will be pleasant to work over. At you're stage, the drawing should only take one session, which means you could get back to where you were, and even better as opposed to waiting a day or even more for something to dry that you're not even completely satisfied with. Your wife deserves the best!
August 27th, 2009, 02:32 PM
Sorry for the lack of updates. I actually had to tuck this away for the last week as life sorta interfered with my progress. I ended up wiping down my underpainting because it simply wasn't drying. Fortunately it left enough of an outline to guide me going forward.
Now I know this is gonna prompt a groan from some, but I was having so much trouble with using oils for the underpainting, I decided to switch to acrylic. I understand the risk entailed in painting with oils over acrylics, but... nothing ventured, nothing gained. I'm gonna give it a shot and see what I get.
So without further ado... update:
August 30th, 2009, 02:00 PM
Oil over acrylic shouldn't be a problem.
The other way around, well that would be bad..
September 1st, 2009, 02:37 PM
After all the trouble I had getting started, I was worried I might not take to this whole oil painting thing. I finally was able to spend about an hour today just painting, thank goodness. I had a lot of fun.
September 2nd, 2009, 02:06 AM
Looking good :] Keep it up.
September 3rd, 2009, 11:47 AM
I dare say this is coming along. Though if I were painting in Photoshop I'd be lowering her left eye right about now...
September 3rd, 2009, 05:28 PM
Yesterday was a lot of fun. It left me wondering why it had taken me so long to put down my pen tablet and pick up some oil paints.
Today... not so much. I had a lot more trouble with my dog than I had anticipated. As for my wife - I tried fixing some things and ended up just making a mess. In both cases, I finally quit because I decided the paint is just too wet to work on top of with any sort or precision. I won't be able to work on this again until Tuesday at the earliest, so until then I guess I'll just grumble quietly to myself and beat myself up about it.
September 9th, 2009, 10:08 AM
Phew, the long weekend is over and I was able to get back to work on this. Unfortunately, my anniversary passed over the weekend as well, so my wonderful and patient wife is still waiting for her gift. I told her that I'm building her a robot, but I'm not sure she's buying it...
I'm back to loving what I'm doing, however, now that the paint is drying and easier to work over. I lowered the left eye that was bugging me and I've begun rendering our dog. I've also started to adjust the pose. In the original sketch I had her leaning over and embracing the dog, but I decided to have her sit up more straight. Next I'll increase the slope of her hair and back to eliminate the hunch before I get to work on the body of the dog.
By the way, any tips on photographing a canvas? I think that's been the hardest part!
September 14th, 2009, 03:32 PM
O'lrighty folks - this is nearly finished. Tomorrow I'll probably be laying down the final few strokes. Any last minute comments, crits and/or suggestions would be much appreciated. Thanks!
September 16th, 2009, 04:06 PM
Well I'm finally calling this finished. It's spent the last couple days drying and I'll unveil it for the wife on Friday. Our anniversary was the 6th, so she's been very patient, and she's very anxious to see what I've got cooking. Thanks once again to everyone for their help.
And some details.
September 16th, 2009, 04:09 PM
That's a nice first oil painting. I hope she likes it :]
September 21st, 2009, 12:40 PM
Thanks a lot Pariano - And thanks for all your help!
Important question to all: Am I supposed to apply any sort of finishing coat to the painting to protect it? I just let it dry and hung it.
September 22nd, 2009, 01:30 PM
A coat of retouch varnish wouldn't be a bad idea.