After my Super-Fantastic failure and decision to try my hand at oil paints, I did some quick Google research. Bob Ross came up over and over during my searches. I decided to watch a few of his episodes on Youtube to see if it was something that I thought could help. My son liked watching Bob and the "Happy Little Trees" that he painted. We decided to give Bob's method a try. We chose to paint the picture called, 'Christmas Eve Snow." Thanks to my friend from the previous weeks post, I had all the necessary colors, plus some extra ones incase I felt creative. My thought process was, if Bob can paint a picture in half an hour, I should be able to do it in two.
Since this is a night picture, I needed to paint my canvas black. This was my first experience with using oil paints. Not at all like other types of paint I've worked with. My wife and I painted the inside of our house in South Carolina twice, the inside of our current house once, plus halping others paint houses, and various art projects I've done for school and fun. If you have never painted with oil paint, it is more like messy putty than paint. No wonder Bob Ross was able to do an entire pinting with just the putty knife. It was a pain to cover the canvas with a "thin layer" of the stuff. However, I acomplished my goal and covered the canvas with black.
The paint had to dry for two days. That is something new to me. I had no idea that oil paint took that long to dry. No wonder it took the Italian masters like Leonardo da Vinci months to complete any of their works. I didn't know that the Mona Lisa is an oil painting, however, now that I've taken a second look at it, the background of the painting looks similar to what I attempted to do with the paint. I guess I learned some tools to help me spot an oil painting.
We began by putting clouds in the sky. Tiny circles to make them, then just blend the bottoms of the clouds, don't over do it. Well, I blended the whole cloud, and over did the blending on top of that. Making mountains is fun. You take some really dark color on the putty knife and trace the outline of mountain peaks onto the canvas. I then had to make a big decision. Decide where the moon is, and then put white paint onto that side of the mountains with the putty knife. Put a thin line of paint onto the tip of the knife and lightly spread the paint cascading down the mountain. I then took the white paint, added some black and blue to it to make a greyish color and did the same technique on the shadowy side. My mountains looked awesome!
So lets talk a little about perspective and all that blank black space below the mountains. I wanted to add some trees, especially since the "happy little trees" is why my son wanted to paint this way in the first place. So, being an inexperienced painter, I put the trees right in the middle covering my awesome mountaint. I did learn that you can take your putty knife and trace a line up the middle of the tree, while subtle, it can help create the illusion of the trunk.
The next task was to create the snowy field. Again, I over blended everything and it looks like a blue-grey blob. Lastly I added a church and some more trees in the foreground to give the illusion of perspective. Personal notes: I need to work on my straight lines, perspective, and looking at the whole canvas before I cover my really good mountains with trees. While I was painting with the oils, Anthony chose to paint one tree with the sky around it using his washable paint. He wore an old work shirt of mine as a smock, which looked pretty funny, considering I am 6 foot 4 and he is 43 inches tall.
One thing I need to plan for next time is how to clean the brushes and dispose of the paint thinner without violating any laws or killing myself. The warning lable is pretty specific about how you can do both. I think I am going to get a bucket for the brushes to soak in, and then a funnel to move the thinner back into its storage container. Paint thinner fumes are flamable, so leaving it in the bucket for storage is not an option. I plan to go back to Michael's to see if they have any tips, or equipment to help me safely handle the thinner.
So what did I learn? I learned that I like to use oil paints. It works pretty well with how I think and what I want to make. The history of oil painting is fascinating. Oil based paints emerged as early as the 12th century in Northern Europe, somewhere around 200 years before the Italian Renaissance. It is almost as fascinating as the history of painting. Just about every culture in history has some kind of painting or visual art. Anthropologists belive that the first paintings served a religious or ritualistic purpose of some sort. There is also evidence it was used to communicate complex ideas in pre-literate societies. The Greeks and Romans used art to educate and commemorate important events. During the Medieval Era it was used to warn against sin. The renaissance moved art to a more decorative role. It is also one of the most versitile paints. I also learned that I need to learn more about brush cleaning and how to properly handle the chemicals involved in oil painting. I am going to let my son decide again what we paint next. He has two different scenes in mind, so we'll see what happens next week!
Ainsworth, M. (n.d.). Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. Retrieved June 30, 2015.
Ross, B. (n.d.). Bob Ross. Retrieved June 30, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/user/BobRossInc