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  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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  3. #2
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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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  4. #3
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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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  6. #5
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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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  7. #6
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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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  8. #7
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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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  9. #8
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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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  11. #10
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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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  12. #11
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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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  13. #12
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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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  14. #13
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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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  15. #14
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    jhgoforth - Thanks for the advice. I do have decent drawing knowledge so I guess im not hurting myself.

    sfa - Thanks alot.. the charcoal painting is something ive never heard of.. interesting. I definetely know what you mean about cost.. The stuffs super expensive.. plus I have to buy canvas. Im just gonna keep it simple for now. Black, white, and umber... get a feel for how it works, practice tone studies, etc. Basically make painting similar to drawing as far as value goes. If I keep the color out for a while.. im not getting too far from drawing.. so Its more in my comfort zone for now

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  16. #15
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    The lessons you learn in drawing will serve you well in painting, but I can't believe that starting to paint earlier can harm you in any way (other than as a distraction? That's the only thing I can think of that they might be worried about). Oil paint takes a different process than drawing, so I'd think that getting a head start in that learning process can't hurt, as long as you keep up on the drawing.

    As a transition from drawing to painting, try doing some rub outs. Grab some cheap canvas panels (the ones that come mounted to card board). Mix up that umber/black color Elwell suggested (you can experiment with other colors too) and then with a large brush cover the board with a thin, but dark, layer of paint (no medium). Now grab a bunch of clean cloth (nothing that will leave lint obviously) and with your cloth covered fingers rub out your study. As you reveal the white canvas beneath you can get a sense of form, smearing paint around to get mid tones. The traces of color left behind by the paint gives the image a nice colored glow. Erasing is as easy as reloading a brush and recovering an area.

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  17. #16
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    Thanks J, What you said about a distraction is also what I was thinking. I couldnt imagine painting hurting you, unless you sacrafice too much drawing time. Im gonna be drawing just as much.. Im just putting aside a bit of time to learn painting. I really wanna eventually use Painter as well as traditional oil.. so I thought that getting into traditional now would give me a head start when I wanna start using painter. I always love traditional mediums.. but paintings particularly messy so when im at college id like to use painter along with traditional paints. I can always be drawing because the materials are simple and not messy.

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    Well sense we have thread up on this subject a quick question on brushes.

    Does it really matter the quality of brush when starting out? I got a cheap 20 set that brings a bunch for 8 dollars. I thought hey im just experimenting so fuck it.

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    At the risk of sounding like the "Bad News Fairy", Painter is at best a distant relative of real media, it's more PS with faked textures.

    Don't get me wrong, it's a sweet program but it's nothing like the idyllic "smelly solvent free painting heaven" you may be imagining. There are many sliders and sub menus to navigate, it crashes at will and few of the brushes will behave as you might expect without serious tweaking.

    Think playing "Tony Hawks Pro Skater" vs actually riding a skateboard or playing "Tekken 5" vs having to actually fight in UFC.

    It's a cool program, I like it a lot but it's sooo not the same as actual paint.

    On the other hand, "real" paint doesn't have 32 level "undo" functions.

    /2p worth

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xeom View Post
    Does it really matter the quality of brush when starting out? I got a cheap 20 set that brings a bunch for 8 dollars. I thought hey im just experimenting so fuck it.
    Try them and see.

    When I was in art school I bought all the expensive brushes I was told to from the Official Materials List, some of them were good , some sucked worse than the cheap equivalent.
    Having using flat bristles for most of my life I went shopping the other day and picked up some cheap synthetic rounds, turns out that I love them to bits and will probably use them for the foreseeable future..

    If it's cheap, try it out and see if it suits you I say. Opinions and reviews are handy but until you personally try something, you won't know if it feels good or "right" or not.

    Last edited by Flake; July 29th, 2008 at 10:15 PM.
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  21. #20
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    Flake - I see what you mean. Ive never actually used painter but Ive seen some beautiful work done with it.. and alot of it looked very much like traditional paint (although I could of course tell it wasnt). Are you suggesting using photoshop instead or are you just saying that I shouldnt expect it to be some great replacement for traditional media? I do want to eventually use digital medium.. Not at all exclusively.. because I love traditional too much. But a good amount of the art that I admire is done digitally.. so I thought I would need to learn it to head towards producing that type of stuff. Also for the fact that its totally mess free.. and the idea of being able to carry my laptop and a tablet and be able to paint anywhere anytime seems so great.

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    Joe, I'm just saying don't expect it to behave like real paint, bacause it won't.
    I'm not suggesting anything other than testing it out for yourself.

    or are you just saying that I shouldnt expect it to be some great replacement for traditional media?
    Exactly that. It'll have inherent advantages and it will have areas where it fails.

    It's a simulation of real media.

    That said, there's no reason you couldn't combine the best aspects of both, scanners are, after all, cheap...

    Last edited by Flake; July 30th, 2008 at 07:57 AM.
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  23. #22
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    Thanks Flake.. I do have a scanner.. and yep i paid 50 bucks for it so your right about that. I do know of artists who combine mediums.. For instance Yoji Skinkawa does his lines in india ink and a brush and then scans them in to painter to do watercolor-like painting. Is there a particular reason why so many artists around here use digital means to produce their work? Im guessing its due to the nature of the industry.. where work needs to be done quickly and efficiently.. as well as easily sent from place to place. Is there still a place in the illustration world for traditional artists? I know there are people who still work in traditional medias.. but what about in the video game/Trading Card/movie/concept art fields? Also.. Im curious to know if anything that can be done in Painter, could be done using traditional oil paint? (aside from applying filters and such, which is purely the programs doing) It just seems like some digital art has a certain look that couldnt be achieved with paint.. maybe thats just because im still at a lower level and I dont understand painting well enough yet.

    Last edited by JParrilla; July 30th, 2008 at 12:19 AM.
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