TAGS: Oil Painting

  • Drawing with Thread, Paint, Paper & Pen

    Whiskey Creek (Spring)
    By Kate Harding, 2008,
    found leather garments, thread,
    grommets, and steel hooks, 54 x 35.
    One of the things I love about the artistic process is that we all share the need to put our creative energy into practice, we do it in so many different ways, and yet we usually have a lot of overlapping interests.

    The one that springs immediately to my mind is a focus on drawing. Across media—including oil painting, collage, watercolor, sculpture, pen-and-ink, charcoal, fabric, and mixed media—I've found that the artwork that really stands out and captures my attention has a solid foundation in drawing.

    Drawing and sketching are sometimes relegated to the equivalent of art in first gear, perhaps because drawing is what many of us learned first when we were growing up. But I see it a different way—drawing is an essential!

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  • Bring Together the Outdoors and Indoors In Your Landscape Paintings

    When I’m landscape painting I’m always drawn to the curious, in-between places where the outdoors and indoors meet. This could be an ivy-smothered barn that almost looks like it is disappearing into the landscape, or an ocean view from an open window. The places where architecture and the natural world collide make a composition eye-catching and compelling because they integrate elements that we usually think of as distinct and separate. Bringing them together creates a tension that some of the landscape paintings I like best have in common.

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  • Don't Paint the Sky Blue!

    Because it’s hardly ever really blue. Think of Turner’s skies or even Monet’s—they are multifaceted and carry the hum of several colors. As many of us transition from painting outdoors to inside the studio, we can sometimes make assumptions and take certain things for granted like the color of sky or water, perhaps because we may see our subjects primarily in photographs, or maybe because the weather or busy schedules give us a much more limited timeframe to go out and work in the landscape.

    When it comes time for me to paint from an aerial perspective, I think of Georges Seurat’s paintings. This may be an extreme example, but for me his work demonstrates an awareness of the prevalence of color, especially in the sky. Thinking of his pointillist dots helps me remember that color is everywhere. In the spirit of this, I pulled together a few tips on painting the sky to help stave off the “blue syndrome.”

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  • Paint the Human Body in Action

    Alaska-born artist Steven Huston knows that when there's no mammoth sports arena or cheering crowds, an athlete on the field of play can easily turn into an artist's ideal model. Even without motion, an athletic figure still possesses an interesting pose, physical awareness, and conceptual power of form. "I wrestled throughout junior high and boxed for a while, and I've always been interested in 'mano y mano' sports," the artist explains. "As a painter, I was drawn to the musculature and movement of the body in action. My style is pretty chunky and lends itself to the lumps and bumps of muscles. But I wanted a context for showing off the body, rather than simply objectifying the human form." 

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  • Learn to Paint the Unexpected

    Artists are the sharpest of observers, attuned to a person's passing gesture or the play of light and shadow on a building façade—but not everything that catches our eye is a painting waiting to happen. For Utah watercolorist Joseph Alleman, the stories that hold his interest are reflections of his passions and his environment.

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  • Artists Are Adventurers at Heart

    A few of my artistic heroes get worse than no respect. They get anonymity. Jacques le Moyne de Morgues, Philip Gidley King, James Cook, Joseph Frederick Wallet Des Barres, John James Audubon—all were artistic adventurers, and most of them are virtually unknown.

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  • Paint to Protect What You Love

    As an artist who has painted the natural world for over 20 years, Adam Straus has a complicated connection to his environment. In the 1990s, he painted Oil Slicks, a series of paintings that referenced the oil spills that happened at the time, and the relevancy of these paintings has been asserted again and again over the years.

    For a period of time, the artist also painted seascapes that contained a sense of foreboding, often jarring to viewers who expect serene images of waves crashing along the shore. The works lent themselves to that 19th-century understanding of the sublime. In many of his paintings Straus demonstrates that nature, although welcoming, still has power to match that of any manmade structure. “Nature is a powerful force and can destroy what we build in a matter of minutes,” the artist says. “Haiti and New Orleans are examples of that.” Lately, the artist has reduced the environment depicted in his paintings to its most elemental. Seascapes compositionally winnowed down to water, air, and the horizon line that joins the two.

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  • Your Best Landscape Painting Experience

    With summer in full swing, I've been spending as much time as possible outdoors, going to concerts and plays, walking from place to place when I do my errands, and just finding every excuse for an outdoor excursion. Landscape painting is another perk of the season. There's something invigorating about stepping outside and sharing space with your subject matter--breathing the same air, seeing the same light, and having an in-the-moment experience with the landscape.

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  • Fur, Feathers, Scales, and Tails

    I don’t have pets but I really love drawing animals because it allows me to focus on a subject matter that is totally different from what I’m used to. Animals’ bodies vary dramatically from bird to reptile to mammal, and that means I...
  • Where to Find Down-to-Earth Mentors

    Robert Johnson strikes the perfect balance between master artist and down-to-earth mentor, supporting his students while pushing them to create the best works that they can. At a recent three-day workshop sponsored by The Art League School in Alexandria, Virginia, Johnson led students through the stages of creating a still life floral painting with oils. He was engaging from the very beginning, starting with a three-hour demonstration, during which he fielded questions about brushstroke technique, supplies, color-palette choices, and the attributes of his favored medium, which happens to be Gamsol.

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  • Paint to Trick the Eye

    The best painters understand that they work to create an illusion. The sleight of hand that comes along with realist painting can be especially compelling when it hides in plain sight—when artists take on subjects that are almost diametrically opposed to the flat surface of their canvases and make paintings that resonate as powerfully as the subject itself.

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  • When Your Art Goes on the Road

    Gaining exposure and recognition for one’s work starts with putting finished pieces in the public and critical eye. This can mean participating in local community shows or full-fledged exhibitions, entering competitions, and hanging pieces in galleries. It is an exciting prospect, but it can also be stressful to prepare works for shipment and display.

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  • Painting Essentials: Color & Light from James Gurney

    Sunset over the Catskills by James Gurney, oil painting. If I want to excel in my craft and become any kind of decent realist painter, the two aspects of oil painting that I need to focus on are color and light. Perfecting the two, together, will allow...
  • It Sounds Corny, But It's True

    A still life changed my life?! It sounds corny, but it’s a little bit true! It was Francisco de Zurbarán’s Still Life with Lemons, Oranges and a Rose. He was a Spanish Baroque painter and I was a freshman searching for a major. Bliss and art history degrees followed.

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  • The Best Part of Painting?

    Clouds Moving , 1999-2009, oil on canvas, 31 1/4 x 37 1/2, by Bernard Chaet. Courtesy David Findlay Jr Fine Art. It’s the materiality—or, for many, that’s at least part of it. The buttery rich feel of oil paint moving across the surface...