Wednesday, October 7, 2009

First Oils after 20 Years in Pastel

(Posted by Maggie)
I started my art career as an oil painter, more years ago than I care to remember. Over many years, I worked in oils, and later in acrylics. But by 1990, I felt my work was no longer progressing. I was just repeating—-repeating what worked, and repeating my mistakes. I needed a fresh start, and I loved the look of pastels. Once I got over the hump of the learning curve with pastels, I was thrilled with their brilliance, luminosity and versatility.

I’m still in love with pastel, but now and then I’ve itched for a brush, and wondered what it would be like to go back to working with oils. I decided to give it another try, and have been having a lot of fun with them.

One interesting thing has been that, aside from the annoying necessity of mixing colors and waiting for paint to dry, I’ve worked pretty much as I do in pastel. I feel that everything I’ve learned about color, value and composition in the years of paintings landscapes in pastel translated fairly easily to oils.

I’ve always thought that understanding values was easier in pastel than any other medium, and working in oils has confirmed that. It’s a lot easier to select a correct value than to mix it. On the other hand, achieving aerial perspective seems a little easier—you just add some blue to make a color recede. And while I’ve enjoyed the ability to mix what seems to be an infinite range of colors, it’s frustrating when I get it wrong and have to throw it out instead of putting a “wrong” stick back in the box.

I’m determined to paint at least two or three oils a week through the winter while I’m not traveling to teach, and will post them here.

Above left, After the Rain, 8x10, oil on panel © Maggie Price (SOLD)

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