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What Would You Share With a Complete Beginner That Would Help Them the Most?

As I await the delivery of some key supplies, I stand on the precipice of this vast undertaking.  I have now watched every free video on the DMP site.  I have ordered and received my Geneva paints, and I am preparing to lay out the cash for the first $100 DMP video download.  I have enjoyed reading through this forum, and learning from everyone here.  You produce such great work, I feel like I have so much to learn.


May I pick your brain?



What do you know now, that you wish you'd known before you began painting?

What mistakes have you made, and what did you learn from them that has changed something significant about your drawing, mixing, and/or oil painting ever since?

What book, tutorial, teaching, or technique has made the most dramatic improvement in your work?

What are common beginner mistakes, and how do you avoid them?

If you had to give a beginner advice, what wisdom would you share that you think would make the largest difference to an oil painter who was totally new to painting in general?


Comments

  • edited December 2020
    Here's what I would tell a beginner who is serious about painting.

    Painting cannot be learned from a book or video. You can get valuable information from these but painting itself is learned by doing. No amount of abstract knowledge alone will make one a good painter. Drawing skills, brush control, colour mixing and much else have to be physically practiced to be mastered.  Mistakes and failures are inevitable. It is from our disasters that we learn most.

    It's the same in all the arts. No amount of music theory will alone allow one to become a concert pianist. That requires enormous practice over a long period. Likewise with writing. No amount of abstract literary theory about plot, characterization etc will make one a good writer. The aspiring writer must read and write, read and write ... It's the same with painting.

    So, in a nutshell, my advice to the serious beginner would be: Look at great paintings (in the flesh) as often as you can. Watch good painters paint. And just paint, paint, paint!
    anweshaMichaelDCsontvary
  • edited December 2020
    I agree totally with @tassieguy `s advice.

    I think its easy to be over self critical to yourself when you start and to compare your own attempts with something you feel is better, this is not realistic.

    Avoiding mistakes is not really going to happen and that is a good thing because they are lessons. They help you grow, there is success in failure.

    Mark talks about `the ugly phase` when doing a painting. I think it is very easy at that point in a painting to convince yourself that what you are doing is a load of crap, and `who am I kidding` etc. Bit if you actually don’t over worry about that stage and see it as part of the process for you to now mould the painting into something that you want it to be. So in that sense that phase can be quite liberating because nothing is yet set or fixed.

    Back to comparing: Often we can be in awe of a piece of work or a favourite author, but we never consider, or see, the practice runs, or ugly stage of the work. Or we don’t appreciate that the book we so revere went through several drafts before it was honed into what it became.

    Down the line as you improve and confidence grows I believe it is important to become your own constructive critic. That does not mean don’t take advice or criticism form others. But really, friends and family are going to be amazed at some of the things you paint, but if they are not they wont necessarily say so.

    Ask yourself where you want to be, determine how you can get there, then apply yourself to it.

    The most straightforward advice I have had from many artists is the same “Paint paint paint”

    Above all enjoy it, there is so much to learn, but what a fantastic journey to embark on.

    Here is one of my favourite quotes from a book I have by an old Zen master

    ”In the beginners`s mind there are many possibilities, in the experts mind there are few”

    Shunryu Suzuki


  • Dustin_Cropsboy

    What do you know now, that you wish you'd known before you began painting?

    Painting and drawing with a loose and confident stroke/line that is driven from the shoulder.

    What mistakes have you made,

    I make a practice of making lots of mistakes. Love them. Opportunities to learn something new.

    and what did you learn from them that has changed something significant about your drawing, mixing, and/or oil painting ever since?

    Starting from scratch with Mark’s teaching I learned the value of quality materials, good studio design, premixing, colour checking, prop divider use etc.
    Mistakes include;
    Piles of mud mixed to get paint values solved by Mark’s six questions
    Wonky perspective, proportion and composition, solved by taking figure drawing classes.
    Constant struggle with canvas texture, solved by switching to aluminium composite material

    What book, tutorial, teaching, or technique has made the most dramatic improvement in your work?

    All of Mark’s stuff.
    ‘Loomis, Figure Drawing for all its Worth.
    ‘Karl Gnass 

    What are common beginner mistakes, and how do you avoid them?

    Too much control, too much tightness, too much pure pigment, too much titanium white.

    If you had to give a beginner advice, what wisdom would you share that you think would make the largest difference to an oil painter who was totally new to painting in general?

    Be kind to yourself. You are on a long and at times difficult journey. Take the hard road and be determined to learn, grow and enjoy.

    Denis


  • What do you know now, that you wish you'd known before you began painting?

    Real life is a lot grayer than you think.

    What mistakes have you made, and what did you learn from them that has changed something significant about your drawing, mixing, and/or oil painting ever since?

    Great drawing skills make for great paintings.  Painting is a process of correcting your mistakes.  

    What book, tutorial, teaching, or technique has made the most dramatic improvement in your work?

    Mark Carder’s instructions.  After, or while in the process, of doing your first few paintings watch marks videos again and you will find all kinds of knowledge he conveyed that you didn’t see or hear the first time you watched them

    What do you know now, that you wish you'd known before you began painting?

    What mistakes have you made, and what did you learn from them that has changed something significant about your drawing, mixing, and/or oil painting ever since?

    What book, tutorial, teaching, or technique has made the most dramatic improvement in your work?

    This forum

    What are common beginner mistakes, and how do you avoid them?

    Drawing symmetrically, mixing values, applying paint evenly... there are so many to list.  You can’t avoid making mistakes you can possibly lean from them if you pay close attention.

    If you had to give a beginner advice, what wisdom would you share that you think would make the largest difference to an oil painter who was totally new to painting in general?

    Work on your drawing skills and value matching.

  • I am speechless.  I just keep reading these posts over and over... thinking about your words, and trying to internalize the advice.  I can't believe the generosity of all the folks here that help one another, and I want to extend deep appreciation to @Mark_Carder as well for making so much available for free as well.

    Because my drawing skills are so, so incredibly weak-- and because my current passion/obsession/intrigue is much more on the "mix, paint" side of things, instead of a burning desire to practice the important "draw" components-- I realize that is my true Achilles heel.  @GTO how did that Tim Jenison's mirror-painting experience go for you?
  • You don't have to be good at drawing if you are copying from a photo (I'm not). Trace onto the canvas with carbon paper of some kind. If you have time and inclination then practicing drawing will be better, as without that you will always be limited. But if you are prepared to accept that tradeoff then go for tracing.

    The two biggest issues I've seen that stop things being realistic are:
    Incorrect drawing (trace)
    Incorrect values (colour check)

    Hope that helps,
    Richard
  • edited December 2020
    Thanks, @Richard_P.   One of Mr. Carver's Q&As mentioned the use of projectors, etc.  I do, very much, understand I will never get better at drawing if I do not practice it.  

    I have determined that at least for my very, very first ever oil painting, I am going to employ the full DMP method, complete with D. 

    After that, I might actually experiment with Saral or DaVinci Eye or something like that, in order to do the next two 12x12inch paintings that I have promised my wife I would try (that include our children).


  • Here are my thoughts:

    1. If you aren't strong at drawing, which I'm not the greatest at either, I often use a grid method to ensure accuracy (especially if I'm copying from a very detailed photo or doing a master copy).  That's less important if you're doing a landscape.  I definitely agree with the person who suggested taking figure drawing courses.  (I did one before Covid struck, but will hopefully do more in future.)

    2. BEFORE you start a painting, do a quick charcoal or pencil sketch...can be very small (4 x 5 inch) if you were planning to do a 16 x 20 painting for example.  This will help you see quickly if the composition you've chosen looks good to begin with.  If something is off, better to find that out before you've invested time and paint on it. 

    3. VALUES: I really did not grasp the importance of this when I started painting. I saw things purely in terms of color.  But there's a saying, "Value does the work, color gets the credit."  I've noticed over time that even when I don't get the colors precisely right, if you still get the values right, the painting can still look convincing.  But if you get the values wrong, even if the color matching is accurate, the work may not look good.

    4. Books: I learned a lot from Juliette Aristides' books, which I was able to find at my local library.  She uses the classical method which varies from DMP, but it's great to help improve drawing, composition, perspective and color theory.  Also, Richard Schmd's Alla Prima is a classic; hopefully your library has it because it's quite pricey.

    5. Never be too satisfied.  Always try to improve by constantly reading and watching art videos.   I did some paintings at the beginning that I thought were really good, but looking back at them now, they seem pretty primitive.  Have a friend or family member who is unbiased give you their honest opinion. This forum is also of course a perfect outlet for that.  That will give you the motivation to keep improving.  Also, try to go to museums as much as possible because once you start painting, you see the works in a different light and it's helpful to analyze how artists tackle certain challenges. 

    If you have any follow-up questions based on the above, please feel free to ask.
  • @Dustin_Cropsboy look at Holbein or Caravaggio. They were masters at drawing but they, along with others used lenses and camera obscures, as I am learning from David Hockney’s book Secret Knowledge. 

    Whatever technique you use just get a good cartoon on the panel before you apply paint.

    i didn’t do a mirror painting I did a small drawing of a black and white photo.  It works but it too would require some practice to get used to using it.
  • With the mention of the Aristides Ateliers and Schmid book... that makes me wonder-- in what ways do a "classical" approach differ from from the DMP recommendations?


  • @Dustin_Cropsboy Generally speaking, the classical approach differs in that you start with an underpainting value study using thinned paint, usually with only one color plus white.  Once that layer is dry, you then can do subsequent layers adding color, and following the "fat over lean" principle.
    Schmid is another variation.  He paints "alla prima" where he essentially does the entire painting wet in wet, which is similar to DMP, but he doesn't follow all the formal elements of the method.  For example, he would start a landscape using very thin paint and do the outline of the scene, and then paint over it with thicker paint, all in the same session.  
    I use all three methods depending on what I'm painting, or what my mood is.
  • You may want to try camera Lucida app for drawing. I’m horrible at drawing too but this app will get your drawing down exactly. 
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