Have you ever wanted something but weren’t willing or wanting to do what it takes to get it? I find myself in that place now. I actually wasn’t willing but now I am. I only became willing when I realized it wasn’t going to just come to me in a dream in the night. I just don’t want to be patient while I wait. Or rather work for it.
I have painted in acrylics for 15 years. I have painted pretty contemporary for 15 years. When you paint contemporary, to an extent, you can make up rules. Maybe not even,”to an extent”. You CAN forget all the fundamental rules that we learn when we begin to paint. Values. Perspective. Drawing. I still paid attention to those elements. Somewhat. But there was clearly a contemporary bent to them.
“River of Hope”
So, since I haven’t picked up a paint brush for two years, I thought it would be a good opportunity to try out the good ol’ oils again and paint using a more representational approach. HOLY COW. I have forgotten how to paint. I have adopted so many bad painting habits in the past 15 years. Especially paint mixing. I basically did not mix paint. I’m not sure what I did but it is not translating well in oils. AT ALL.
But I want it to.
But I don’t want to take the time to do it right.
The past few months I have tried to just FORCE the old habits into my painting. One disappointment after another. Well, maybe if I paint another subject matter it will improve. It’s like skiing. I kept thinking that the reason I did not like skiing was the venue was not good. Like Jackson, Wyoming?? Colorado? Come on. I didn’t want to admit it was that I don’t know what the heck I’m doing. That is why I don’t like skiing. That is why I am AFRAID of skiing. That is why I am afraid of walking into my studio these days or those days for that matter. I was wingin’ it. I don’t want to wing it anymore. I look at phenomenal artist’s work all the time. I want to paint like them.
So, I begin with a color chart. Of 4 colors. White. Black. Red and Yellow Ochre. Mixing 120 colors that those 4 colors can make.
Color chart using white, black, red and yellow ochre
Pretty amazing you can get that many colors, huh? Great exercise. And I will only use those four colors ’til I get a good grasp. Only then will I add more colors to my palette. But still SOOOO much work to be done to GET WHAT I WANT.
I read that it is much better to paint from real life than from photographs. I have painted from my maniac imagination for the past 15 years. So, I not only have to mix paint colors accurately but I also at the same time have to look at a real object and interpret the shape, colors, values, and perspective. Sounds like chewing gum, walking, milking goats and eating pizza at the same time. That is how foreign this is to me right now. I used to know how to do it. But I forgot. It is not like riding a bicycle.
BUT…I want to do this right and I will go to any length it will take to get it right. The easiest thing for me to do would be to walk away from it. Go milk a goat that I cannot drink from. Or paint the way I was. But I feel a strong call from God to do this. The last thing He wants from me is to “wing” a gift He has given me. So I WILL learn it. Because He wants me to. And like everything He wants for or from me, the end result is great satisfaction. It is hugely rewarding and ultimately brings me and others joy.
I’ll let you know how its going. I hope it doesn’t take the rest of my life to learn how to paint one painting. But I guess that would be ok too.
The following painter, Anders Zorn, is the “author” of the 4 color palette. He has painted many beautiful pieces with just those four colors.
Anders Zorn ( 1860-1920)