Monday 1 February 2016

Painting from scratch

I'm trying to get to grips with oil painting. It's a completely different kettle of fish from watercolours or even acrylics so I feel I'm starting pretty much from scratch. First thing is to chose a subject and preferably nothing too complicated.

I spotted this beautiful jug on a bric a brac stall recently and couldn't resist adding it to the collection of jugs and teapots I've been collecting over the years. There is a signature on the base but sadly I can't make it out - the date though is 1906. I'm amazed at that as it looks so contemporary. I may never use it for its original purpose but it earns its keep by becoming a subject of a still life!

I decided to paint just the one jug on a square canvas panel. It's not much of a composition but it'll do  for practise. This is the first layer of colour. It's still very wet so I have to be patient for a few days before I can correct the drawing with opaque paint and then start to add thin layers of colour to try to better describe the rounded form.

My biggest challenge is to stop painting like a watercolour painter and keep thinning the paint till it runs. Oil paint applied straight from the tube stays where it's put and holds the mark of the brush, completely unlike watercolour which flows across the surface with a mind of its own. To help me make the switch and stop reverting to old habits, I experimented with a knife for a while. I liked that a lot but I think it may be technique more suited to less smooth and shiny subject matter. Looking at what I've got so far I can see that the shadows and highlights are going to be all important if I'm going to capture the shiny surfaces of the tiles, the window and the jug. I can't wait to have another go!

Bye for now,


  1. How wonderful. I switched the opposite direction, from oil to acrylic to watercolor. When I tried to go back, I couldn't believe how the acrylic paint just sat where I put it. It seemed like so much 'work.' You're right about light and shadow. Looking forward to seeing more.

  2. I take my hat off to you because Im struggling to change from watercolour to acrylic painting.
    I learnt watercolours watching my dad paint as a small child and have been playing with acrylics ,I have more success with them If I paint on paper which is strange cause I use rough watercolour paper.
    So well done to be playing with all 3....