Trying oils

I have a new painting sitting upside down on my easel at the moment, drying. It’s the last stage of production before I can take it down to the gallery and put it up for sale. At least, that’s what I thought. However, apparently with oils I have to be a tad more patient.

Morning Light over Beaufort Range
Oil on Canvas, 12″ x 24″

Patience is a tough lesson for me. I am used to finishing an acrylic, letting it dry a day, turning it over, adding the hanging hardware, naming it and then putting it up on the wall at Artique Artists’ Cooperative Gallery. Oils are a totally different medium! I was partway through this painting, working from sky to sea, and having just finished the background mountains, when I realized…I haven’t put on the hanging hardware!

I thought about this for a while. The paint was wet, and for all I knew, it might be wet for weeks. If I couldn’t hanging it on a wall…any wall…where would I put it to dry off? Luckily, I am married to a husband with a workshop, and in that workshop is a vice attached to the workbench. I gathered some pieces of foam and a towel and headed down to the basement with my painting. With a little fan-angling, the canvas stood upright, with the vice only pressing on the lower wood backing, and I could attach the screws and wire.

In June, I took a four-week oil painting workshop led by hyper-realist artist Lucas Kratochwil. Lucas now lives in Roberts’ Creek, yet comes from Patagonia and a family of artists. He has created astonishing paintings of the mountains around Whistler, and I was drawn to learn how to capture snow effectively on canvas. It meant purchasing a small collection of oils and I chose to use Holbein-Duo Aqua oils for their ease of cleanup and reduced toxicity. Together with 60+ other people from around the world, and using Zoom, Lucas painstakingly took us through the creation of a beautiful picture of Whistler mountain with Black Tusk in the distance. (Check out his upcoming workshops to see if one speaks to you.)

Since then, I have wanted to put my oils to use again, and recently the view across the Salish Sea from our living room was stunning. We look out onto the Comox glacier, and a group of peaks called the Beaufort Range, with the northern end of Texada Island in the foreground. Many photos later and I had enough reference material to start.

So, trying a new medium is exciting, and I would definitely recommend it. Just remember there are rules attached to oils that force a little patience, a little time and a degree of respect for the process.

What medium do you use in your art, and have you been trying a different medium recently? Have you tried oils? If so, what do you think? I’d love to hear back from you.