3 Bad Art Habits to Break Right Now

5 Aug 2012

I don't mean to be an alarmist, but there are certain habits that artists develop when oil painting that can be detrimental to the larger arc of their professional progress. None of us intend to pick up bad practices but routine and absentmindedness can trip us up.

Smoke and Mirror by Sangram Majumdar, 84 x 66, oil on linen, 2012. I've been a fan of Majumdar's work for years, and it has grown and evolved because he has pushed into new territory.
Smoke and Mirror by Sangram Majumdar, 84 x 66,
oil on linen, 2012. I've been a fan of Majumdar's
work for years, and it has grown and evolved
because he has pushed into new territory.

I've observed many artists working over the years, and the one thing that sticks in my mind about that whole array is that they all start their works in a different way. Try to be this way too. Don't start the same way every time, because chances are you'll end up with the same kind of painting you've always created before. Start differently, use a different color palette or painting tool, and stretch yourself--even if it is just a little bit--every time you paint. You may end up somewhere unexpected and extraordinary.

When learning a new oil painting technique, don't just do it once and decide right then and there if it is right for you. Be willing to try out a different method or technique to see how it honestly affects aspects of your oil painting art. Preconceptions can muddle any kind of creative endeavor, so don't get bogged down and let yourself feel free to truly explore what you are doing. That way you'll always be expanding your horizons.

Port de Pesce by Sangram Majumdar, charcoal and graphite on paper, 15 x 22, 2005.
Port de Pesce by Sangram Majumdar,
charcoal and graphite on paper, 15 x 22, 2005.
When putting oil on canvas, our hyper-critical inner voices can start to shout. For me, that often results in me putting down the brush and walking away. Don't do it! The best way to really make strides in your painting is to see it through to the end. The painting may not be something you want to hang on your wall yet, but you'll have learned a lot more than if you'd not done it at all.

If you flip through any recent issue of American Artist magazine, you'll find page after page of oil painting artists and instructors who are confiding the dos and don'ts of their painting processes to us. If you want to assure that you always get that kind of sincere, professional insight, give a subscription to American Artist serious thought!


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Comments

on 6 Aug 2012 6:58 AM

Hi Courtney,

I am glad you reminded me of this. I sometimes look at my paintings and see the same colors and style! Looks boring!

What do you mean change technique? I understand to change color and tool? Oil painting which i like to do mostly is always from dark to light and lean over fat so how would you change that.

Thanks for sharing.

Ranju

on 6 Aug 2012 11:35 AM

Hi Ranju,

Perhaps you could switch up your style? Work more loosely or vice versa--create a more detailed sketch, depending on your current way of working? Perhaps this could open up a new door for you. Enjoy!

Courtney

delo4ya wrote
on 18 Sep 2012 4:00 PM

This was a really informative article. I have bad habits myself; same theme, colors, strokes, etc. I am going to break out of my comfort zone and try some different things. Just recently created something for my daughter using several pieces of mixed media (sort of a collage) and it is really unique and quite beautiful!! Thank you for this :)