Bird & Sunrise photo

Bird & Sunrise photo
Because "someday" is today!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Who Says Oil and Water Don't Mix?

"On the Trail" 6"x 8"oil on canvas, ©2008 Tina M Welter   A red fox is following footprints in the snow.
"On the Trail" 6"x 8"oil on canvas, ©2008
Because of necessity, I taught myself how to paint with watercolors 20 years ago. After graduating from college, my husband and I moved about twelve times in eight years trying to find the right combination of work and place we wanted to live. During that time, packing around canvas and wet oil paints wasn't very practical. We did buy a used 1972 Prowler camping trailer in Alaska during one of our adventures and lived in it much of the time during those eight years. Needless to say,we were very short on storage space. They didn't build those RVs for long term living back in the 70's. I had loved painting with oils in college, but didn't do very well with the turpentine fumes then, so that was another reason to try another medium.

It took some time, but eventually my watercolors started to look good to me. I found that they were wonderful for painting flowers which is one of my favorite subjects. They were also great for painting birthday cards and small studies of landscapes. The things I didn't like were the framing with all that glass and mat cutting and the tendency for many watercolor pigments to fade.

A few years ago, we started to hear about these new oil paints that were water soluble which sounded great, but I wondered if they could really be that stable to paint with. Time seems to be proving that they are a wonderful new way to use oils. In the interest of changing my old "I can't do it" patterns and not having to cut another mat for one more painting, I decided to invest in a new set of the water-soluble oil paints. We bought the Holbein Duo brand because they were also using non-toxic pigments and their Medium to mix the paint with didn't give me a headache.

This was so exciting; new canvas, new paint, and certainly I would have no problem remembering how to work with oil paints! I should also mention that my Talented Boss had told me that her gallery was looking for someone who could paint wildlife. Since I was still feeling good about having my last paintings juried into the miniature show, I thought sure, I can give wildlife a try.

I decided I wanted to do a small 6"x8" painting of a red fox. Piece of cake, right? I do all my flower paintings from my own photos so there is no copyright problems. Finding images of a fox I could use was not easy. Especially one that had any decent lighting and color. I rented wildlife films and sketched and sketched. I ordered a book on drawing animals and sketched some more. I spent eight hours one Saturday and finally got a simple drawing I felt worked and didn't infringe on anyone's copyright. I was relieved to finally be to the painting part.

Good Grief! The underpainting was fine, but then it just seemed to go downhill from there. I wasn't used to paint that didn't dry immediately anymore and I kept making mud. Ugh! Thankfully, the water-soluble oils do dry in four or five days so that did help me. I spent more time studying my old oil painting books and trying to remember what used to work for me. Eventually, with several re-paintings, I got my little painting to a place where at least I didn't think it was horrible. Jeff told me to try something I know, like FLOWERS!... I finally agreed with him and put the fox away.

What I learned from this little adventure is that is good to stretch and try new things, but you can make yourself crazy and depressed if you try too many all at once. I should look into joining Overachievers Anonymous.

After doing three small oil paintings of flowers, I took out mister fox this week and finished the painting. Hurray for happy endings! I still think he looks a bit stiff, but hey, I can only get better and I'm ready to let this one go.

Jeff's corner: I came up with the title for this entry!

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