With a spanking fresh canvas, a pot full of paintbrushes and a squeaky-clean palette dotted with paint you’re already halfway there, but I’ve rounded up a few insider tips from my experience as an oil painter to help you excel in your artistic endeavours
Hit the ground running
Get yourself in a strong starting position, which means finding an ultra-high-quality photograph. Some of my favourite pieces have been when I’ve collaborated with a photographer, as I know it’s a guaranteed win for high resolution images, this hugely helps in the long run when you’re focusing on the finer details. If this isn’t possible, take your time sourcing the perfect photo(s) online – just remember to ask for permission from the photographer.
A fresh start
Make sure you’ve got the right kit to get an extra feel-good boost before you start. Invest in a quality canvas, a bunch of new paintbrushes and a fresh palette with your favourite dots of paint on. I find it makes a massive difference to my motivation and outlook to have everything ready when starting a new piece; blast some music and you’ll be good to go.
Block it in
Blocking in isn’t every painter’s go-to method but it’s a firm favourite of mine. I work by loosely (and quickly) getting in the colours, tone and a minimal amount of detail in first. It gives you a stronger direction of the piece and I like that the second layer has some colour coming through too. If you’re a fellow oil painter start this process by thinning down the paint, the paint can crack otherwise.
Paint what YOU want to paint. Throughout college and university I was told to paint with narrative and found this so frustratingly hard. I relished going to life drawing classes and painting the figure, as well as the aesthetic of paint, but unfortunately I didn’t have the imagination to create stories around my life model paintings. I think it’s safe to say I struggled with my lecturers! Whatever it is you’re inspired by, trust your gut and roll with it, trust me.
Have fun with what you’re creating. Painting is supposed to be enjoyable, therapeutic, freeing and expressive. If a particular piece isn’t working don’t be afraid to scrap it and chalk it up to a learning curve. I’ve abandoned, painted over and cut up pieces in the past – sometimes the best bit about making artwork has been demolishing it – they can’t all be winners eh.