Good method for beginners in Oils

Myrtleville, Co. Cork.

The painting was completed in 3 stages. Each dried before the next was started. There are advantages and, of course, disadvantages in this approach. I do it as a change from my 1 hour paintings which I happen to prefer. This ‘quick painting’ creates an intense involvement with the process. Every brushstroke is critical. Because I use a computer to produce graphics for my ‘day job’, remembering that I don’t have an ‘undo’ key adds to the excitement of this type of painting. In a way its like a live performance.

But this post is not about ‘quick painting’. Its about the 4 hours, 3 stage painting. For a beginner, this is a safe option. In a sense, you have an ‘undo’ key. If the under layer is dry, a misplaced brushstroke can be removed with a little solvent on a tissue paper. Before the next stage is started its a good idea to ‘wet’ the entire surface with a medium like ‘Liquin’. The drying process changes the colours, especially the dark ones. They appear lighter in colour. The oily effect returns the painting to look as it did when you last worked on it.

There are effects (see in the above video) like the rays of light which would be difficult in the ‘alla prima‘ method. Also, large paintings, even with large brushes, take so much time, can only be done in stages.

A serious defect with the multi-stage painting is the tendency to overwork the painting. Trying to maintain a freshness and the ‘hand of the artist’ in the work which has several reworks, is difficult. But, for a beginner, it is still a more comfortable approach. I think in due course and with experience, a beginner will be drawn to the thrill of alla prima.

An interesting observation:- As a holding medium of videos for this blog I use YouTube. These are public and watched by a broad spectrum of people. Some, like myself, are interested in the ‘nuts and bolts’ of producing a painting without all the ‘waffle’. Others are random hits. The most watched, and the one which engages the viewer the longest, of my 20 or so videos is Still Life with Two Glasses. Alla prima at its most difficult – transparent glass on an almost black wet-paint background. Are we witnessing a new art form emerging as a result of the ‘web’. A ‘doing’ and ‘sharing’ form of performance. Who knows?


3 thoughts on “Good method for beginners in Oils

  1. Hi Liam,
    Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement and support. I’m doing good…just hitting a rough patch…your video is so great, and so helpful! I’ll be back to posting soon, and looking forward to seeing yours as they arrive, as always.

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