How in the name of ultramarine linseed did I get here?
I'll be fifty years old in a couple of years and I have touched a canvas only once in my life before today. (I have always worked for charities and nonprofit organizations all my life. One held a fundraiser at a local www.paintingwithatwist.com place. The shop would donate a portion of each person's admission to the event to the charity for which I worked. We were each supposed to paint a tree on our canvasses. I'm not quite sure I did. To this day, there's still paint there on my canvas as proof that I painted something once, but I think my dog could have made something more interesting and attractive.
I say that to convey that I am a perfect test case for a premise such as a belief that "anyone can learn" or that people with "no talent" can suceed. Oil painting on a canvas, like an artist, is about the furthest thing that anyone in my life, including me, might imagine me ever trying to do. I don't draw. I can't currently draw anything that looks like a person, forget actually capturing a likeness. Prior to finding this website, I couldn't identify a John Singer Sargent from an Edward Hopper.
So, how did I get here?
Well, I saw an advertisement in my Facebook feed.
Not for DMP, but for a class to learn to paint portrait faces using oils and tiny brushes in one of those really hyper-blended styles. Never having seen anything quite like that, I said "Wow! That's amazing! That's a photograph, not a painting! What if I could could paint my wife like that!!! Or my kids!!! Or even my dog!"
So, then I started googling.
I settled here because I appreciated the facts that A) Mark's basic lessons were free, he didn't hold out the promise of magic secrets if I gave him more money,
he tells you how to build yourself most of the stuff he sells, and C) I liked the look and style of the portraits he showed that he's painted.
I've read through the class a few times. I've browsed the forum here a tiny, tiny bit. I've now watched almost every single free video.
I have three big take-aways.
First, binging everything on the YouTube channel is a whole lot of Mark Carder in a short amount of time.
Second, I've discovered that I absolutely love the work of Ilya Yefimovich Repin.
Third, I've taken the plunge; I ordered the basic set of oils and from other places I have purchased some filberts and some linen panels. I would have bought Mark's palettes, too, if they'd been in stock.
As I await the arrival of these supplies, I wanted to introduce myself here, in part because a.) some of you here sound like you are almost as crazy as I am, so I might fit in here just fine; and b.) I know I'm gonna need a ton of help.
To that end...
I haven't started yet, and I have questions already:
1.) What is the "shelf life" of oil paint (specifically, the tubed Geneva with the medium in, because that's the only oil paint I have now purchased)? How long is "good" unopened on the shelf? After opening and using some of it? [Keep in mind I don't know what "good" means. I just saw some of your photos of your studios and I saw dates written on your paint tubes, so it got me wondering. (One of you had also written the date, and what appears to be the word "pig" on the Geneva tubes, and I'm still running potential scenarios through my mind in search of that meaning.)]
2.) Why is the color-checker's circle black? If the canvass and pallette are both stain-color so the colors won't appear darker than they actually are against a bright value white or lighter than they are against a dark value black, shouldn't the same reasoning apply to the checker? (I suppose color perceived is color perceived, and black does isolate the colors extremely well, but I just wonder if it is making both colors look lighter than they actually are, and that is yet another reason why people expect their paintings to be brighter than they are when hung on a dark wall.)
3.) Is this a bad plan?
A.) First, a still life with three objects. This is nothing like the type of thing I want to paint, but I'm committed to following the method, and won't cut corners with the first painting, and will do things just the way the method requires. Shadowbox, proportion divider, color checking, mixing all the steps, etc. In case it is not total garbage when finished, I will assemble the still life with colors and items that match the theme and decor of one of the rooms in our house (in case I can live with actually hanging it).
B.) Next, after finishing the first one, I will two complementary 12x12 pieces. We have one room in our house where we have two prints that size that feature dark rust-orange poppies (that match the decor in that room perfectly). The prints have faded almost to white becuase they are right beside the window. (My wife likes the idea of matching the colors but is not committed to poppies.) So here's my thought. My first preference is this: I have one photo of my son, and one photo of my daughter, both inside Antelope Canyon. The swirls of rock are large and the children are not full frame portrait-size. Not the best original reference, but definitely sufficient. I would probably take the shortcut of using saral to transfer just to make things look right. (Is something like this too extreme of a jump for a second attempt? Is this a question that is more appropriate after we see the results of my first painting? A distant second option would be to go the easier route and just do two 12x12in paintings from an online photo of dark orange flowers with no sentimental attachment.)
C.) Eventually, I want to do nice head and shoulder portraits of members of my family. I'd especially love to do one with both of my children and the family dog.
I have no delusions of becoming a famous artist, or even ever being able to even sell anything I paint-- but I do want to put in the effort to see if I can make some things that might be special for my family.