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New painters, how often do you just want to throw in the towel?


(Brenda Bolts) #1

i’m new to oil painting, and maybe I am in a funk, but it seems I think "I suck at this’ at least twice a session.
I can’t mix what I see…
I mix what I think is right, only for it to be wrong on canvas…
I can’t blend nicely, nor just put the perfect swatch of beautiful color smeared on in the perfect spot- gorgeously- like Carol Marine, etc…

How to get over the beginner’s blues, anyone?


(Connie McLennan) #2

Do you have a teacher or mentor? That was essential for me.


(Sharon Egan) #3

That happens to me all the time, literally every painting session, and I’ve been painting for 30 years! I still learn lots at workshops, here on this site (ArtBytes), sites like ArtistsNetworkTV, in classes and from other artists. Don’t give up. Just enjoy the process. It’s a challenge! Consider your supplies as well - buy the best you can afford: artist grade paint, good substrates (try Ampersand Gessobord) and the right brushes for the job. Buy a copy of Plein Air Magazine both for the articles, the how-to section, and great lists of workshops. Many people at the workshops are beginners. I met quite a few folk at the Plein Air Convention in Santa Fe last spring who were rank beginners, having less than 10 paintings under their belts. Best of luck to you and happy painting!


(Sharon Egan) #4

Also, paint as often as you can. Daily painting is good for you. Like eating your vegetables!


(Annemiek Haralson) #5

Sharan, exactly what I would recommend. I challenged myself to draw or paint every day for a year. Some days ended up being 5 minutes, others 4 hours. There were days I missed, but it became very much part of the routine. As far as throwing in the towel; every painting has that ugly stage, and every painting I feel like quitting at some point. I push through it. Sometimes I have to come back to it later to see what needs to be changed. It remains a challenge, but what a good feeling if it is finished. If I look back on what I painted 4 years ago versus now it has improved a lot, and it has been through miles of paper and canvas!


(Sharon Egan) #6

Annemiek - An instructor of mine called this ugly stage every painting goes through the “teenager” stage! So true that every painting has one. Sometimes I produce a bunch of “wipers” in a row too. Love that good feeling when you get a good one and can see improvement!


(Annemiek Haralson) #7

Haha the teenager stage is a good analogy! Rowdy, uncooperative, but with love and guidance something good will come out of it :slight_smile:


(Brenda Bolts) #8

Thank you everyone, I totally get the ‘teenager’ stage - each one I try I have that same feeling! It’s the blocking in stage that I just hate…

I sure appreciate the tips! I am in an area without many options for classes.


(Cynthia Richardson) #10

If you were learning to play the piano, you would not expect to be playing Mozart right away - you would start with simple pieces, practice your scales, etc. It is the same with painting - if you set your expectations too high you will fail. Don’t expect to paint like a pro the first week, or even the first year. But if you treat each attempt as a learning experience and paint frequently, you will gradually improve. Learning to mix the right colors and values, and apply the paint skillfully takes practice - just like doing your piano scales.


(Lisa Strickland-Clark) #11

Another thing you could try is to subscribe to an inspiring painting blog, like ‘The Painter’s Keys’. That keeps me going on days when I feel like throwing in the towel.


(Rita Malenczyk) #12

Brenda, I found that Carol Marine’s book Daily Painting and the section called, I think, “collective Insight on blocks” was really helpful; her tutorial about artist’s block on the DPW site has much of the same thing. In the book she also shows some of her early paintings and talks about how long it took her to have something she was happy with. She also has a particular style, which I like and learn from, but it isn’t my style (I paint mostly on black gesso) and doesn’t have to be yours. Just keep going even though it’s hard. (Also, maybe your sessions are too long? Not sure how long they are, but maybe give yourself an hour to paint and call time after that hour. Sometimes having a limited time forces you to be what Carol calls “fast and loose.”)


(Lori Brackett) #13

Was that “eating your vegetables” or painting them? :slight_smile:


(Andrea Jeris) #14

Have you checked out the tutorials on this site? I have found many of them helpful and they are not too expensive to start with. There are a lot of free ones on YouTube and then there are excellent videos you can buy by artists you admire for more money.


(Jacqueline Davis) #15

Keep going…keep going! My first attempts at oil painting were absolutely terrible. I mean really, really terrible.

I probably painted 40 paintings before I got to one that I thought ‘I actually like that’. I actually kept the painting as a memory of what I felt was my first milestone - where I thought I was actually making progress.

Taking breaks when you are in a funk helps too. Sometimes a break away from it can bring you back with fresh eyes. It’s all practice, practice, practice.

Keep going!

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