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Thread: Starting to paint?

  1. #1
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    Starting to paint?

    Sooo I have to say I have a sort of fear of painting. I just have it drilled into my mind that drawing is the basis of painting.. and I wont allow myself to paint because im not satisfied with my drawing. I wanna learn to paint in oil.. but im wondering if this whole idea I have is false. I know ateliers teach that one must learn to draw before painting. On the other hand I read the Harold Speed book where he recommends line and mass drawing be done simultaneously.. and im pretty sure mass drawing is kinda equivalent to painting. So is this thought I have kinda rediculous? Should I just pick up a brush, some paint, and a good book and just go for it? Or continue my casts and bargues for a while longer?
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    Speed is, as usual, 100% correct. Play, have fun, don't think you have to create a masterpiece the very first time you pick up a brush.

    Tristan Elwell
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    Ah so when he speaks of mass drawing.. it basically is painting huh? Thats the feeling I was getting but it wasnt very clear to me. I guess it is kinda silly for me to not allow myself to paint until I draw better. After all where will I draw the line that says Ok your good enough to be able to paint now!! I think im gonna start with just black and white oils for now though. I really havent touched any color yet because im so unfamiliar with color and values of color. Maybe ill try doing a cast painting or some eggs or something
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    Just paint. It'll open a new door for you. Don't think about it, get an impulse to do it and do it. You don't need a book unless you're painting in it!
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    Tonal painting is a good way to start. Rather than straight black, which tends to be a poor drier, try raw umber, or a 50/50 mix of umber and black.

    Tristan Elwell
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    thanks alot guys. I think im gonna do that.. probably try the umber like you suggested. Elwell.. when do you think diving into color is a good idea? I mean.. im very far from having great black and white values.. So would adding color just magnify my value problems worse than my pencil drawings show?
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    If you're learning to handle paint, I would also suggest trying out a variety of mediums to see which one you work best in. You might find that you're suprised by which type of paint works best for you.

    I, personally, absolutely hate oils and refuse to work with them at all. I just don't have the patience to let them dry, and they feel mushy and unresponsive to me. I worked in acrylics for ages, but I always watered them down so they were almost like watercolors. When I finally started painting with real watercolors, they just clicked for me (even though I'd thought for years that watercolor's pale pastels weren't vivid enough for what I wanted to do); I felt almost like I was painting in Photoshop, with the thin layers of color building on one another until they were all but glowing. It's become my favorite media now, even though I avoided it for years.

    So I think that the type of paint you're working with is important. They all handle differently, and you'll probably work with some better than others. If you're just learning to push the paint around, oils or acrylics are probably best, especially if you're just doing black and white/tonal value studies. Both are fairly forgiving, and acrylics, at least, are pretty cheap. I would avoid learning a medium because you think you "have" to paint that way.

    As for color, I would definitely wait until you have a good sense of value and form and the ability to render them fairly well before you play with color. With color there is a lot more going on, so you need to be confident with the basics first. Still, it might not hurt to do a color study every now and then between the rest. Say, do ten tonal studies and then try a two- or three-color piece just to experiment, then do ten more tonals. If nothing else that might give you a good visual scale of improvement.

    Ultimately I think you just need to poke around and find out what works best for you.
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    thanks alot man. I cant say which is best for me yet cause I havent used any of em Since I love being able to get cool little details in my work... I figured oil would be the ebst way to go since acrylic usually doesnt get as detailed.. although it could. And watercolor is even less detailed. Im surely gonna wait to get into color.. im gonna start with white, black, and raw umber like Elwell suggested
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    Rather than straight black, which tends to be a poor drier, try raw umber, or a 50/50 mix of umber and black.
    Found this out the hard way, Lamp Black with hefty applications of Linseed oil might dry before the sun explodes. Or it might not.

    Umber and some thinner is usually dry the next day.

    Regarding types of paint, try them all out, you'll find one suits you better than the others, go with that.

    I always find myself going back to oil because they dry the same colour that I put down, the tone shift in acrylics when used in anything other than thin "permanent watercolour" washes made me want to kill things.

    Your mileage will vary.

    Quote Originally Posted by biggjoee5790 View Post
    when do you think diving into color is a good idea?
    Like Harry says, whenever you want, but don't confuse it with your studies. If you want to dick about with acid colour schemes, do it, but keep it as a seperate exercise for now.

    If you totally feel the need to do a "Symphony in Pink and Neon Green", get it out of your system.

    /2p worth
    Last edited by Flake; July 28th, 2008 at 09:43 PM.
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    thanks alot Flake. Im sticking to value studies for now. I guess if I get the urge Ill try color.. but not yet.
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    Im curious as to what some of your opinions are about the Atelier view of painting. I read that many of them do not allow students to paint until theyve been drawing for multiple years! Now im sure when they begin painting they will be way ahead of someone without the drawing experience.. but do you think its a little too much? Is it really necessary to be absolutely amazing at drawing before touching paint?
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    Outside of simple colouring like coloured pencils and cheap elementary school paints, I never painted seriously till college. I did drawing for most of my teens. So the atelier 'requirement' of years of drawing first is a bit silly as that is really dependent purely on the prior experience of the student. If you are fresh to drawing and art in general, then yes of course you need lots of time spent learning form and shape and line weight and tonal values. But it can never hurt to start incorporating colour theory as well (and it's tough in it's own right to even pretend to master it). (side note: Watercolour pencils are another cheap alternative to painting and can help bridge the gap between drawing and painting).
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    Quote Originally Posted by biggjoee5790 View Post
    Im curious as to what some of your opinions are about the Atelier view of painting. I read that many of them do not allow students to paint until theyve been drawing for multiple years! Now im sure when they begin painting they will be way ahead of someone without the drawing experience.. but do you think its a little too much? Is it really necessary to be absolutely amazing at drawing before touching paint?
    No, but it helps.

    Drawing is a good 2/3rds to 3/4s of painting. If you can't draw, then there's no way your painting will turn out well if your aim is something representational. From watching others, and from my own experience as well, the majority of problems people run into when they paint are typically related to issues with drawing: gesture, shapes, form, proportions, planes, values, design, composition, etc. Painting tests everything you know about drawing and throws in even more variables into the mix: color, opacity, texture, etc. The main reason why ateliers don't allow students to progress into painting until they've reached a certain level is because drawing alone requires the student to juggle a massive amount of visual information. Jumping directly into painting without having a solid foundation in drawing is like walking a tightrope without a safety net. Their "rule" about no painting seems mainly designed to save the student from unneeded agony and frustration.

    Besides, pencils are like what, two bucks for a Conte 1710 B? And $8 for a pad of newsprint? That's $10 for weeks of practice.

    In contrast, ten bucks sometimes won't even buy you a tube of decent oil paint these days. Can you imagine how expensive it would be to learn how to draw and paint using oil? I think it's best to get all the kinks out of your system using cheap supplies and move onto more expensive mediums when you're ready to make the leap.

    Speaking of cheap supplies, if you really, absolutely feel the need to paint, then here's what you can do in addition to all the great suggestions above. Buy a jar of charcoal powder and sprinkle a tiny bit of it on a pan. Grab a cheap throwaway brush, dip it in water, and use it load the brush with charcoal powder. Presto - you're ready to "paint". This method is best used on thicker paper or illustration board. The neat thing about this is that it's still charcoal, so if you make a mistake you can erase it a bit when it dries. You can even draw over it with charcoal pencil if you want too. Remember, whether you're going with one of the above routes or this one, stay monochromatic. Keep it as simple as possible while you're learning.

    When you're ready to jump into color, as a bridging medium, I've had success with watercolors with white gouache. Watercolor is a devilish medium, but you can control it somewhat by adding gouache to control its opacity. And yes, it's a pretty cheap combination of mediums too - I've done over thirty little studies in a scrapbook and have yet to run out of any paint in the initial batch of tubes I've bought. All in all, I think it cost me $50 and I learned a heckuva lot about color mixing, color temperature, and the planing out of heads with simple brush strokes in the process. This is all information that I can apply to the more expensive medium of oil when I'm ready to tackle it properly.

    Good luck!
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