Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Switching Mediums


A few years ago I decided to abandon watercolour and try painting on canvas instead of paper.  I wanted to go bigger and brighter and to get away from having to frame under glass.  I also really wanted to be able to touch the surface of my paintings without fear of ruining them with any traces of oil or dirt on my fingers.  Paper is not easy to keep pristine. 
I thought that acrylic would be a natural choice so I went out and bought a full complement of colours, and some canvases and set optimistically to work.  It was a slaughter.
The paint fought me all the way.  It dried quickly and flatly like house paint; it covered the colours beneath it very opaquely unless I started fiddling with different mediums to make it more transparent or more rigid or more something or other; and it wouldn't glow for me no matter what I tried.  I started to question whether I was capable of being a painter at all.  This was not a good time.
Luckily a friend suggested that I try oil.  I'd avoided it because it seemed difficult and intimidating.  It wasn't.  The first painting that I attempted wasn't actually that bad and, more importantly, it glowed.  From the start, I could see that this was a medium that was as beautiful as watercolour.  You could layer it, blend it and play with it like thick, bright frosting on a cake.  I was in love. 
The painting above is my very first oil painting.  It's a picture of the painter Sharon Williams addressing a canvas.  The colour is fanciful and unrefined but still, it has energy and heart.  I'll hang on to it.

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