Having A Purpose for Painting

"Big Sur Bump"
Oil on Canvas Panel
12" x 16"

As you have all read in the previous post, I have returned to painting oils.   Yes, this is an old ‘love’ who is as passionate and as troublesome as any woman who decides that other competitors need move aside and give her first rights to  . . . uh . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..permanence.

Part of the allure for me is that I know nothing about it . . . .or didn’t until a few years ago.   Technique, is, of course the chief concern as I plunge back in to attempt to make art that is worthy of the name “Fine Art.”   I already know, from my experience in watercolor, that unless I muster a lot of painting experience with the medium my work will be relegated to the category of “Just a hobby, nothing serious.”

A few years ago, I began this blog with the intention of completing 100 oil paintings in 90 days.   If I didn’t hit the goal, I came very close to it.   In that short time, I had quickly educated myself by watching other painters, observing various technique strategies and trying a lot of different things.    That entire experience awakened me to how beautiful oil paintings could be.   That is when the siren really started to call me and kept me dreaming about it at night.

For the last few days, the studio has been my refuge.   I spend my morning there with a large tankard of coffee and attempt to make a complete painting in a few hours.   For me, this time is not spent just to make another ‘pretty picture.’    There are goals that I expect to accomplish.   These ‘goals’ or ‘objectives’ are not about the completed work necessarily.   They are more about the process I shall follow and what I want the paint to look like when finished.   That is to say NOT the image, but the paint.

In this painting I wanted fresh unsullied color.    That means color that isn’t necessarily saturated, but clean, crisp color.   Secondly, I wanted big brush strokes to show and I desired those strokes to delineate planes of light and shadow.

One would think that these were worthy and fairly easily accomplished objectives.   It seems so, but just wait until you try it!    It seems my biggest enemy in the color department has been the turp or the OMS (odorless mineral spirits).   An enemy because, as a watercolor painter, I was rinsing out my brush in the OMS continuously.   I isn’t long before the solvent takes on a greenish gray color that permeates every brush load of paint.   Not good for clean color !

So, today, I swore OFF the solvent.   Just don’t use it at all, Mike!   That requires using many clean brushes.   What I ended up doing was using a single brush for every color,  including very dark, near black, and white.    I think, by the time I had finished,  I had used some ten different flat brushes.    I think this painting is an improvement over my last one . . . .the colors are definetely clean.   And the strokes are obvious, as are the planes of light and shadow.

Of course there are a few areas that could be much better (duh!).   And the photography could certainly be a heck of a lot better.  But still! . . . .I am happy enough with this outcome to take my gear out with an oil painting friend and join him in the plain air tomorrow.   It seems progress is being made!