Golden Oil Painting Tips & Tricks

Many people are far too serious when it comes to painting. They have such a cramped perception of how to go about it, while painting really is a lot easier when you feel relaxed and confident.

And it’s not their fault.

A majority of oil painting workshops feed you with the idea that oil painting is very complicated and that you have to know a lot of things. Besides that, most coaching programs also suggest that it takes ages of learning to get to a certain level.

Well… teachers like to sell long term tuition, don’t they? So a little bit of intimidation does help with a certain crowd.

Obviously, repetition will have a tremendous impact on anyone's progress. To become a good painter you DO need to paint a lot, that goes without saying. But as long as you know which steps to take, you might as well have joy while on your way getting there. It will also get you there much faster.

Having a good laugh regularly makes painting easier, which reflects in the paintings. It is this liberating fun that is lacking at times and it shows.

So a different “cut the crap” approach can make painting much more of a pleasure. It frees the mind so that you can simply focus on what you want to paint, instead of how to paint.

So what should you be focusing on when starting with painting?

Doing preparational warming up exercises in the form of quick sketches. To loosen up and get to know the subject better.

Even if your goal is to make a classical, photorealistic image of a subject you should first always make a large number of rough studies before you actually start with the definite canvas. The more studies the better. These studies should be timed and take no longer then ten minutes at the most.

Preferably you sketch direct with oilpaint on paper. Just whack it on in the shortest possible time and see what you get. They call this ‘alla prima’.

So why would you do that?

In the first place many subjects in real life do change quickly as well. People move, light changes, colours change. So it is of real importance to get used to working as quick as the light.

Secondly you can only achieve so much in such a short period of time, meaning that you’re forced to concentrate on those main points of a subject that matter most. That is very important. You should learn to skip details at this stage and only focus on the overall first impression of light and dark. This they call ‘massing’. It helps you to make priorities and prevents you to get too obsessed with tiny little details that don’t really matter that much.

In the third place working like this teaches you to come to terms with feelings of failure and success quickly and helps to overcome fear of the material. Your brushstrokes will become more confident, less hesitant.

Painting involves making a lot of mistakes and NOT getting it right straight away. You could compare it with football. You try again and again and only sometimes there is beauty. That is the nature of painting. There is always some kind of a struggle. No matter how good you become, this struggle remains the same. The important lesson of course is, not to be intimidated but instead have a good laugh, shrug it off and try again!

By doing all these sketches you get into a flow, a trance. The key here is repetition. At a certain point you learn to switch into this trance – this role of the painter inside you – automatically the moment that you pick up a brush, just like the actor, who steps into his role the moment he enters the stage. Once you know how to do this the magic really starts and anything can happen. That's when painting becomes art.

JanPaul Wittebol is an artist and oil painting enthusiast. For more great oil painting tips and tricks visit .

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