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Beginning Painter Eager to Learn

Hello all. I've been painting for only about one month, and was thrilled to stumble onto DMP videos on YouTube over the weekend while home sick with a cold. As I strive to learn basic techniques and put them into practice, I think the methods that Mark teaches, as well as the community that exists on this forum, are exactly the tools I need to truly improve my art.

That being said, I have a few questions I was hoping someone could help with. I have most of the basic materials to get started with Mark's method (color checker, proportional divider, recommended colors, etc.), but I do not have a shadow box. And I'm afraid my apartment is really too small to hold a shadow box or to setup a proper studio. How vital are these elements? Will I be significantly disadvantaged by painting still lifes without using a shadow box?

One additional question, aimed particularly at anyone who may have started using Mark's techniques as a very novice painter. When attempting a first painting using the DMP as a guide, do you recommend copying exactly what Mark does in the "Learn to Oil Paint Video"? That is to say, should I also be painting a silver cup on a table, or is he just using that as an example? Should I copy his intructions/techniques/colors directly from the videos in order to learn the methods, or should I setup my own still life and transfer his teachings to it?

Sorry for the lengthy questions, but I'd be very curious to hear the thoughts of anyone who really started here as a novice and has progressed. Perhaps I'm over-thinking it as well, but I want to make the best use of my time in order to progress as efficiently as possible.

Thanks in advance for your help, and I look forward to many further discussions.

Comments

  • I learned to paint by watching Mark's original video. The best way to learn is by setting up the way he shows but if you can't there are still ways to get around it. You can make a shadow box using black foam board or a cube out of PVC pipe and draping black fabric over the sides. The lighting is pretty important but others will have to give you advice on that. You don't have to paint a silver cup. Pick something simple though and try not to make your set up too complicated. But, painting silver isn't that difficult so if you have a silver cup it would be a nice first painting.
    Ron
  • Hi, welcome. I would transfer what mark shows in his videos, and apply it to what you paint. I'd start with something small and simple first. A shadow box is not essential, what is does is allow you to control the lighting, and have it be the same all the time. With a good bright light in your room it may not be needed, or you may have a window. North facing will give you the most even light, or a cloudy day gives even light. Even a small cardboard shoe box may be a start.
    Be great to see your first picture.
  • Hi and Welcome.
    If you type 'shadow box' in search area ( top right of screen), you'll see several or more ideas on creating a shadow box. Even small ones so you can get started.

    Enjoy your stay, and welcome. :-h
  • Mark_CarderMark_Carder admin
    edited October 2013
    Welcome to the forum! Paint whatever you want, something you love. But follow the videos "to the letter". Be sure to watch color checker basics as well.

    Try a very small shadow box perhaps, make sure it is high enough so you are not looking down on it. A small cardboard box on a small table - table on books or blocks. Cynthia gives good advice regarding searching the forum. Remember lots of great ideas.
    jdfick
  • Thanks for all of the suggestions everyone. I appreciate it!
  • welcome to the forum.
  • edited October 2013
    Welcome libhart , Hope you are feeling better :)
  • That color checker idea works! Even out doors. Put that paint on it and check it out! :)>-
  • Good luck and start small and simple as suggested and follow Mark's videos. Remember, you are not painting silver, gold, copper, glass or orange skin. You are drawing in proportion and matching value and color.
  • Thank you all for the helpful advice. I now have my studio setup in a corner of my bedroom. I was able to build the PVC shadow box, though I cut mine down to 20" wide to save room.

    I do have one question on the shadow box---how vital is the "chimney pipe" holder for the light, that Ronna uses for her shadow box? I searched high and low at my local hardware store, but the closest I could find was a light recessing kit, which does not have a simple electrical cord and would require wiring.

    Could I simply use a regular old stainless steel clip light? I am using a form board roof as suggested.

    Thanks in advance for your help! Once I get this shadow box finalized, I will be ready to go!
  • I may be off on the wrong foot but, I made mine out of black fiam board. I cut a slot on the top at the back that lets me slide in a background cloth. I cut a closable slot on on either side and then i can place a small flood lamp or whatever on a small table, depending on what kind of effect I may want. I also have the 500k lights available and sometimes that will give me a surprise, color wise.
  • The chimney pipe is the best way to reduce glare from the bulb, and offers more options for lighting scenarios, but I'm of a make do and mend mentality. If It doesn't fit in with what I've got to work with, I'll find ways to make it fit. Always think flameproof material though when working with bulbs.
  • You can use a stainless steel clip light. That's what I used in the past. I couldn't get it to go directly over the top and point down into the shadow box. That's why I switched to this chimney.
    Just recently I asked my husband to modify it for me. The bulb was too high. I thought about cutting off the bottom about 3 inches but he came up with a better method. He bought a 10" threaded rod and two wing nuts with washers. Then attached the light sock to the threaded rod placing a wing nut on top and bottom of the chimney. Now I can raise or lower the bulb. I thought his idea was quite clever :)
    nyngje
  • So Libhart, how are you doing with your setup, and your painting?
  • All,

    Thank you for the helpful tips! I went ahead and used the clip light, though I'm thinking I could make a chimney-pipe thing out of a coffee tin with the bottom cut out. I did notice a rather strong glare from my light.

    At any rate, I am now completely setup. I have a small studio space, the PVC shadow box, lots of black fabric, easel, glass palettes, etc. I can upload some photos of my space later today.

    As for painting, I started my first project this weekend, which is to paint a silver cup. At work I mentioned to a friend that I was starting to paint, and how I hoped to find a silver cup. It turned out that she had one which she is loaning to me, and by chance it is very similar to the one Mark paints in his videos.

    I mixed colors for the first time ever yesterday. What fun! It is so interesting that the actual colors we mix often do not seem like they would be right, but they are. For example, I think before finding this technique, I would have looked at the silver cup and thought "OK, let me mix some silver." Now I use the color-checker and just mix what I see; the many different colors I made for the cup are all far from generic "silver" color - but when applied correctly and against the particular background color I have, they do indeed resemble silver.

    So far I'm pretty happy with my painting, though I'm being kind to myself. It really is my first experience painting, ever, apart from a few sloppy landscapes I did a few months back. I have virtually no art instruction at all and have done very little, but this method is very exciting. Probably the biggest obstacle so far has been my own doubt, and also the compulsion to speed up rather than to plod on slowly and carefully.

    Perhaps I'll post my WIP later today for some criticism. I'm so happy to be doing this and really want to improve.

    Best,
    Garth
  • SusieQSusieQ -
    edited October 2013
    @Ronna
    Aren't husbands wonderful? They go out of their way to help us!
  • 2Ronna-
    Ronna said:

    You can use a stainless steel clip light. That's what I used in the past. I couldn't get it to go directly over the top and point down into the shadow box. That's why I switched to this chimney.
    Just recently I asked my husband to modify it for me. The bulb was too high. I thought about cutting off the bottom about 3 inches but he came up with a better method. He bought a 10" threaded rod and two wing nuts with washers. Then attached the light sock to the threaded rod placing a wing nut on top and bottom of the chimney. Now I can raise or lower the bulb. I thought his idea was quite clever :)

    Can you show us your revised light?

  • Ok give me a few days.
  • @Ronna
    Thanks bunches. Question, what is the wattage of your bulb?
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