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Hi, I'm Ken from Louisville KY.

I watched all  of MC's youtube videos over the past five years and thought constantly of starting to oil paint. I set-up a studio in December and dipped a brush for the first time in January 2021. Watching MC paint over and over had a programming effect on my brain. I follow the DMP steps without deviation and have been a successful beginner I think. In retrospect, setting up a studio was crucial (as Mark says repeatedly). I love geneva paint as well. Beginners have enough to think about without doinking with medium and thinner.

Much gratitude for Mark. It has made my life immeasurably better.


  • edited March 19
    Greetings, Ken.  I'm from Lexington, KY.  I set-up a studio/basement-corner in December, and things have been so crazy hectic busy at work, I have never put brush to paint since then.  Kudos to you for taking the plunge.  I'd love to see what you've painted so far!
  • Welcome to the forum.  I too would like to see your painting.  
  • Hi, @ken. Welcome to the forum.  :)  
  • That was my first still life. I worked in it for about 20 hours. I’ve finished six more since mid Jan. 
  • Hello and welcome @ken. this still life looks great :)
  • Hello @ken and welcome.  My goodness, your first painting using his method is outstanding.  Great work!
  • @ken. What size are these?  They look fantastic!  What kind of work did you do before DMP?  The reflections of that candlestick in the bottle in the first painting is excellent.  The look of the metal reads so well.  And I like the way you treated the highlight on the top edge of the table.  The gold lettering on the books is so convincing.

  • @Ken - What a beautiful painting, and elegant and harmonious. That was your first?!? This is impressive. Congratulations on your painting.

  • Great first painting, @Ken:)
  • Excellent start! Where did you get that cricket ball?
  • Extremely impressive.  Thank you for sharing!
  • Thank you for all the kind comments. That was literally the first time I had ever attempted painting anything. I can’t be trusted to paint the trim in my house but I do have decent drafting skills. But not really drawing skills. 

    My theory is that I trained my brain by watching MC videos compulsively for about five years. I felt very confident while I was working but I was sincerely surprised (shocked even) when I stood back at looked at it for the first time. It has been a strange experience honestly. 

    My wife Jenn and I live in a restored 132 yo vernacular (folk) Victorian in the louisville highlands and we have collected over the years hundreds of items that will be great still life subjects. 
  • As I look at that painting, I think the candle is too bright and the stitching on the ball is too bright. 

    MC is in my head saying, “the number one problem I see with my students is..,” Ha!
  • Lol.  My family just chuckle now when they hear the beginning intro music playing out of my phone or laptop.

    Sometimes when folks are concerned about values or highlights, someone at the forum here will post a black and white version of the photo of the source and the photo of the painting.  I need to learn how to do a B&W conversion that doesn't mess with the values.

    We just had lunch today in the Highlands area today.  (I took a day of vacation and my family and I walked some Bernheim trails during my daughter's Spring Break.)  I love the Highlands.
  • @ken
    For a first try kudos. A few questions. Did you paint from life or photo? Photography - camera and processing software? Surface canvas, linen,panel?
  • edited April 3
    Whatever the substrate/support, and whether painted from life or from a photo (with or without processing software), this is a highly accomplished painting. Excellent work, @ken:)
  • Welcome and your painting is excellent!
  • Thanks again for the kind words. It was painted from life, on a 16 x 20 x 1/4 birch plywood panel, supported by 3/4 x 1-1/4 poplar around the perimeter and one support through the center. I miter the corners and glue the system together with a high-end PVA adhesive from TiteBond. I'm a woodworker, so over-kill on anything wood is in my DNA.

    I like panels because I like to be able to apply pressure to the surface in order to support my hand while drawing or painting. I also like to use drafting dividers and a compass which will punch holes in canvas. However, I like the way canvas pulls the paint from the brush -- so I've been alternating. My best work has been on panels. I'm also annoyed at the primitive key system for keeping canvas taut.

    My prep is 2 coats of clear spray shellac to all sides -- front and back -- followed by a neutral ground stain that I had mixed at Sherwin Williams. It's their matte finish 100% acrylic wall paint for wet locations (kitchen/bath). I can complete all three coats and be ready to paint in 1/2 day of total drying time. I like Geneva stain to paint on, but the surface is too soft to draw an accurate line (at least for me) and it takes forever to dry. And the cost of the shellac/acrylic paint system is probably less than $2 for a 16 x 20.

    I like that prep because I know that shellac is archival, and many of the modern archival adhesives and coatings are 100% acrylic. I'm not sure I care if my painting will last 5,000 years but I would like them to look good 50 years from now, and certainly not warp 5 days from now -- which happens frequently with poorly prepped ply.
  • @ken

    Is there a way to reliably affix canvas to a panel so that you can get the best of both worlds?

  • Yes!  There are a number of forums on that subject on-line. My 2 cents worth is to prime the wooden system thoroughly on all sides (as I say, I use spray shellac). When it's dry and lightly sanded, apply a heavy coat of PVA adhesive (from the art store -- not hardware store) and then stretch the linen or cotton over the wood panel just as you would a stretcher and staple on the back. Make sure the face is smooth and let it dry. Prime the normal way with the same PVA so that you know they are compatible.

    I don't glue the canvas to the sides of the support. When the glue is dry, I take out the staples and trim the canvas flush with the edges. I think it's a little neater that way.

    You can also stretch canvas over a wood panel, staple on the back, and use no adhesive, but you'll still get a little bounce on the surface which I don't care for.

  • I was reacting to this.
    ken said:

    I like panels because I like to be able to apply pressure to the surface in order to support my hand while drawing or painting. I also like to use drafting dividers and a compass which will punch holes in canvas. However, I like the way canvas pulls the paint from the brush -- so I've been alternating. My best work has been on panels. I'm also annoyed at the primitive key system for keeping canvas taut.

     So you do all three?
  • Canvas on panel is a really nice surface (best of all worlds) but those are time consuming to make.
  • @ken  
    You mentioned Baumgartner. He feels that PVA is an abomination. I used to mount linen on panel with it but really didn't like the feel. I prefer linen on stretchers. There's nothing like the feel of a brush on stretched linen. As to using dividers and compass Mark has a video where he shows how to find angles with proportional dividers. A very neat trick. There's also the traditional thumb measure on paint brush handle measuring technique. Or making grids in front of the shadow box window. I prefer my eye and proportional divider the make sure my eye is correct. Very satisfying.
  • I don’t think PVA can be reversed. That might be Baumgartner’s issue. 

    I have also put a sheet of 3/4 plywood behind the canvas when I’m drawing and then take it out when I paint. The ply supports drafting tools on canvas ok. 

    For the most part, I draw boxes the size of each object as accurately as I can and then eyeball the actual drawing inside each box.  I use proportional dividers that I made from mark’s video as well. A very fast way to take measurements. 

    Last thing I’ll mention... I take a snap with my iPhone and send it to a b&w printer scaled to 8.5 x 11. Then divide into quarters both directions with a yellow pencil. I don’t draw from it but it’s a quick way to check proportion. 
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