It is beautiful oil paintings like the one on the left that inspire me to pick up this new hobby (“Sunflower” by Louise DeMore). I have a belief that every hobby needs 10 years to mature and to turn into something more serious. If you pick up guitar as a hobby today and keep practicing it on a regular basis, 10 years later you should have decent skill to please a crowd (if that is the case, please come back to this site and tell me that I was right). Same theory applies. If I pick up oil painting now, in my 40s, my friends should be proud of hanging my paintings in their homes. By 50s, people may start collecting my paintings. Who knows?
Smart readers of my website must be asking: is this guy for real? It may not look very real right now but between you and me, I have already invested more than S$160 into acquiring all the basic stuffs that I need to start painting oils (as of now, I wonder if Cynthia has discovered the large painting board, bags of equipment, and an … easel – all hiding inside the common bedroom). I still have not created my first oil painting yet and to tell you the truth, it is a bit scary – given the fact that I hated art classes at school.
One of my friends insists that art in general (including music) cannot be taught. It is either you have the talent or you don’t have it. You may get a teacher to get you going with the basic but the rest will depend on your talent no matter how hard you practice or train. I wish to follow one of the painter’s philosophy – “Don’t worry about talent; it means nothing without perseverance”.
In his recent interview by the Reader’s Digest, Will Smith said: Give me the book, and I do not need somebody to stand up in front the class. I am no Will Smith but I am happy to start off my new hobby with tons of books I have borrowed from the National Library. If you wish to start painting oils, you may wish to get hold of some of the books listed below. One thing I noticed as I moved from one book to another is that there may be contradicting teaching points. Some prefer to use pencil to create a draft and some give reasons why not to do it. Some prefer to use diluted black colour as the underpaint and some say otherwise. Even for brushes, different painters have their preferences. Some are more the old school type while others encourage you to start painting before you learn how to draw. Some insist that all painting must be modelled after real life objects or subjects while some use photographs or even imagination. Of course, another advantage of absorbing multiple books at one go is that there are bound to be some techniques that one author penned them down in details while others did not.
Painting Oils (First Step Series) by Louise DeMore
A wonderful book with examples relatively simple enough to demonstrate the techniques. I especially like her 5-step approach in completing any kind of painting. She likes to use warm colour a lot and the examples look even beautiful to look at. What I like about the book too is that the examples given seems achievable for even beginners to attempt. The author seems to have lots of experience in teaching students.
Oils by Peter John Garrand
Garrand’s book has some interesting tips that others may have missed out such as how to look after the brushes and how to stack the canvases amongst others. The examples though are not that easy to follow. His teaching more encourages people to start painting and go back to drawing techniques if you find that you cannot improve anymore.
Oils for the Beginner by Alwyn Crawshaw
One of the best narration, very well explained, and I felt motivated just by reading the words. Lots of useful information and seemingly achievable examples. Crawshaw has lots of passion and experiences in painting.
You Can Paint Oils by Linda Birch
Beautifully written for absolute beginners. The steps are clear and the example are simple enough. Perhaps Birch has illustrated many children’s books besides teaching painting and drawing, she tends to teach drawing from imagination (compares to others who paint based on a real setting).
Oils by Patricia Seligman
Although this book belongs to the “Step by Step Art School” series, it is definitely not for beginners. Even some of the techniques seem unconventional. The examples, though, are professionally beautiful. One example even gives a “paper-folding” effect on an oil painting. In no way I am going to draw those examples in the very near future, I am sure.
Oil Painting for Beginners by Francisco Asensio Cerver
I bought this book at Kinokuniya because first, it didn’t cross my mind that I can borrow oil painting books from the library and second, it is relatively affordable (S$15.65). It turns out to be a good buy as it is packed with information and examples. And it is always a good idea to have a book within reach to refer to at all time for beginners.