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Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Benefit of Painting Miles of Canvas

'Soothing Sanctuary'            5x7            oil on panel                  ©Karen Margulis    SOLD
"If you look into the past of a successful painter you will find square miles of canvas" Charles Hawthorne

  It is April 2012 and I am starting a new painting challenge.  I have been painting with pastels for 6 years now and I have been wanting to venture into the world of oil paint.  I have tried here and there over the last couple of years but I was frustrated by the learning curve.  I know that with pastels I experienced the same frustration as a beginner. My answer was to do a small daily pastel painting.  It really helped. It is so true that one needs to paint a mile of canvas in order to become a more confident painter.

I recently returned from the 1st Annual Plein Air Convention where there were over 500 wonderful artists.  Most of them were oil painters. I was so inspired by them. I enjoyed watching them work. I saw so many different approaches to painting and so many different set-ups.  I knew that I wanted to be 'one of them'.  As much as I love pastels I felt a bit left out of the oil painting party!  I made a commitment to understand and get comfortable with oils.  I bought some of the Rosemary brushes and a RayMar panel carrier and came home ready to paint! (I had some paints at home)

 My commitment is to do 5 small oil studies each week. This should be do-able.  I have already done six 5x7 studies this weekend! You can see them all on my 'Miles of Canvas' blog.  I will be posting my weekly studies on this blog so that I can have an online journal of my progress.  I invite you to join me in this challenge. It doesn't matter what medium you would like to learn, doing several small studies each week....putting in your miles...will help you become more comfortable with the medium.  I promise you will see progress!

My reference for the oil painting is my original 8x10 pastel
So what is the benefit of miles of canvas?  Painting is like any other discipline. It is not enough to read about it or go to an occasional workshop or lesson. You need to practice. You wouldn't expect to be able to play the piano with ease without practicing. It is the same for painting. Practicing makes painting less mysterious. If you paint more often then you are less likely to treat each painting too preciously.  You are more likely to experiment and be playful. You will gain a deeper understanding of your medium and how it works best for you. Here are a few tips to make daily painting practice more manageable:
  • Set a do-able goal. If you work full time, don't stress about your time. Make your goal smaller. If a daily painting is too much, try to do a smaller number.
  • Set a time limit. Plan on taking an hour or less for each painting. Treat each painting as a study. Take the pressure off of having to do a masterpiece each painting session.
  • Keep your supplies available and set up. If you have to set up and clean your space every session, you are less likely to paint.
  • Have your paper or canvas prepared and choose your references in advance. For my oil studies I am planning to paint from my pastel paintings (see above)  When I do daily pastels, I choose a week's worth of reference photos. It keeps me from taking up my entire painting session trying to choose a subject!
  • Have fun and enjoy the journey!


Maria Hock said...

Great challenge! though you are already an accomplished artist I look forward to seeing your progress with oils!

Karen said...

Thank you Maria. I intend to have fun with it!

Julie Ford Oliver said...

Good for you!
I am addicted to oils so I know you will enjoy them and your idea of copying what you have already worked out in pastel is a great idea. Should be a breeze for someone of your talent.

Good luck and I will enjoy watching your adventure.

robertsloan2art said...

Interesting challenge! I love the colors you achieved in your small oil painting. It has a bright freshness that reminds me of pastels - hope you do keep that brilliance and freshness in your painting as you do your miles of canvas.

You've got a great idea with miles of canvas. I've been frustrated by oil painting too - mostly with the cleanup and storage problem for drying paintings. I'm not sure I'll ever get into it, do know I need more space to be able to paint in oils regularly. But you're tempting me to try again sometime.

Karen said...

Robert, the storage and clean up was what was holding me back too. But once I saw all of the oil painters at the convention manage and how they kept things organized I had to try again. I set up my easy-l which is small. I am only using 5 tubes of paint and when I am done I clean the palette but cover the leftover paint with pressn stick wrap for the next day. I found a wire file holder at the thrift store for 77 cents and it is perfect for the drying paintings. I will have to write a post abut my set-up because so far it is working for me!

Karen said...

Thanks Julie. I can see now how it can be addicting! (like pastels) :)