This past summer, after wandering through some of the world's most vibrant collections of oil paintings and getting to see the real depth and texture of the impressionist's work, I began to explore oils.
Every Monday for five weeks I rode a short bus to a nearby academy and spent three (too-short) hours learning how, in many ways, that oil painting is the exact opposite discipline from my familiar watercolors. Darkest first, go slow, be generous with your colors, your drawing is important but not that important as you might think... it was somewhat like turning my head inside out every time I touched the canvas. Difficult, uncomfortable, unfamiliar. Yet, by the end of each session, after hours of scrutiny and self-doubt, I would discover something beautiful on the canvas, as if I had nothing to do with putting it there. I'm still not fully convinced that I do.
I dearly loved the structure of the class with our teaching artist showing and guiding us in his style and his choices, especially when I felt like my head seemed filled with a pile of unfolded laundry as I looked at unfamiliar tools and strange color combinations.
Now that the class is over, I find myself with a box of paint, a few full canvases, a few empty ones, and a growing excitement to forge off to discover what these blank canvases will become.
With a much better understanding of all the mistakes I can make (and a handful of solutions) I just need to dive in on my own, break some of the "rules" and see what happens.
Now to find the table space and some time...