Teaching Tuesdays: Oil Painting for Beginners-Lesson 2


In this lesson you will learn:

  • Learning to simplify a subject and placement on the canvas
  • Learning to transfer your reference to your painting surface
  • Creating graphic shapes of color with an initial wash

Homework assignment: 

  • Study your reference photo and decide what your star (center of focus) will be in the painting.Look at the objects in your painting. Determine what form the objects in the scene are (for example:tree trunks are cylinders, barns are cubes, grain silos are cylinders, bushes are spheres, etc).Using your vine charcoal or pencil and your 16 x20 canvas, draw the forms (sphere, cylinder, cube, or cone) on the canvas transferring the scene onto the canvas in its simplest form. Photograph the sketch on the canvas when complete and submit the photo to Linda via email (cincyredhead@gmail.com)
  • Next, create a value study of your reference photo on your canvas. On your disposable palette, squeeze out the ivory black and white. Mix together black and white to create 5 distinct values ranging from black (darkest dark) to white (lightest light). The three remaining grays should be a darker grey, a middle grey and a lighter grey. Squint at the reference photo to help determine values. Using a thin wash, place those shadow side values in the proper places. (See example below). Photograph the painting when you have the shadow (darker values) placed and send a jpg to Linda via email.
  • Continuing with the thin wash, repeat the process with the light values/colors. Send this photograph to Linda via email.
  • Also include in the emails any comments/observations you have made during this process. Linda will comment on the work and provide any suggestions for adjustments to the painting.

Reference photograph of Standing Guard.

This is Linda’s value study for my painting Standing Guard.

It may help you to print a black and white version of your reference photo. Also you can print out a color version of your reference photo and look for all the shadow areas. When you have identified a shadow area, outline it with the marker and color in the area. If you have a set of gray scale markers, you can use two (black and a darker grey) to color in the shadow areas. Studying your reference photo to plan out your value study is highly encouraged. The more you study and play with your value selections, the more you will see before you actually start to paint with the gray scale paints.

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