Starting to paint

My first completed oil painting. Two Russian children in reindeer coats.

For so long I have avoided painting and stuck to pencil and pen drawing, my safety zone. But recently I took up a paint brush and I feel I have only been half an artist till now! I painted two Russian children from a photograph in a National Geographic magazine. I got very excited when my painting of flesh started to look like flesh, when their cheeks started to glow with cold, when the atmosphere started to arrive and mature ‘on its own’ once I had laid down the colours. This is what painting feels like to me, a dedicated drawer. It seemed as though I was invoking ‘chemical reactions’ between the colours I laid down on a page.

Towards the end I did get tired and painted the background rather shabbily, it is true. I think the piece would have benefitted from a few more defined trees on the horizon. I will be the first to admit that the painting itself is unremarkable compared to my work with pencil and pen. My brushstrokes lack conviction in a way my pencil/pen lines never have. I am still taking baby steps with this medium, and teaching my hand to dare and dream with a paintbrush. Overall I am quite pleased with the fruits of my labour.

I think the best advice I can give to someone looking to start painting, is to lean into it. Lean into the painting process and lose your sense of attachment to the final result. After some practice you will gain an instinctive sense of what looks good and what looks bad; when you should stop working into it and when you should not. I once read somewhere that “the best way to be a writer is to be a writer”. The exact same applies to painting. I look forward to sharing my future paintings : )

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