Discovering Oil Painting

Seven weeks ago I decided I should stop thinking about trying oil painting, and START oil painting. 

I signed up for a 6 Week course with Visionary Artist Bonny Hut and started the course the following Monday. 

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, but I was excited to start. I had been gifted an awesome oil painting set for my birthday and despite already painting a lot in watercolour, I didn't know where to start by myself and was yet to even open one of the tubes of oil paint. 

The class offered all the basics I wanted to learn to move me from "I don't know if I'll do it right so I won't try" to "I have an idea, and it's OK if I get it wrong so I'll have a go!" We put theory to practice by recreating a portrait which I was a bit nervous about to begin with, but turns out I freaking love painting faces! This is the first time I have painted a face since I have a always chosen to draw/paint animals or plants etc.

I wanted to share the process from start to finish of my course, because I am a bit proud of my painting and I really loved this learning process. 

Week 1: In the first lesson we learnt about basic drawing, using grids and then shape placement (all done upside down to see the shapes rather then the eye or the nose or the mouth etc), and the base layer - no detail and very turps watered down paint for the beginning. Pretty much no idea what I was doing at this point, but loving it anyway! 

Week 2: Quantity over quality. Still painting upside down. Beginning the blending process and some detail.

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Week 3: Moving features into the correct position. You can see the markings on the original here of the relative proportions. I shortened her chin, made her head wider and moved her eyes. 

Week 4: In week 4 I decided I'd like to create an airbrushed look instead of the brushstrokes of the original painting, as this is actually easier. I used tiny amounts of white paint to highlight her cheeks, forehead and chin using the lightest circular brush strokes. I loved this lesson, this is where the painting started to pop off the canvas. I used purple and orange paint all over her face here too. I also started on the detail of her lips and one eye. 

Week 5: Final details, adding texture to her head scarf and extra shadows. At this point I thought I was finished, and then during the week I noticed a few things I wanted to change - right eyebrow and a little extra detail on the left eye. 

Week 6: Finished. I love this painting, mostly because it's my first ever portrait and I didn't know I could create anything like this, and also because of the slow, almost meditative process of each class which allowed me to progress to this final image. I was amazed that tiny amounts of paint could change the picture so much. 

Bonny advised that we shouldn't get attached to a painting, because in doing so we spend too much time trying to perfect it. By letting go of any attachment to the outcome you can enjoy the process completely, and then once it's done, move on to the next thing, and if you want to you can also just throw it away. 

I'm not going to throw this one away though, because it's a bit of a symbol for me to remind me that practice on a regular basis yields incredible results. It's the beginning of something so exciting for me, and I can't wait to learn and share more!

Closer detail - see the orange and purple? I'm hooked! I love oil. 

- Zoe 

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