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Getting Started

I find that staring at a blank canvas can be daunting. I like to add a layer of color in the general area that I'm going to be working on. This way I'm just refining what I'm doing. I block in the shapes and the rough values for the paintings. The nice thing about art is that you don't have to start and finish at anyone else's time frame. I often get as far as I can and let them sit until I want to work on it again.

I'm sure that each artist has a different process/method that works for them. Art schools teach several techniques that are tried and true, but I have gravitated to my own process. I feel like doing my own thing gives me license to work on a piece for as long or as little as I want. I also know what to expect. I've tried doing what others recommend, and still use some of it, but now that I have my own steps figured out, I'm much more productive. I'm not suggesting that anyone follow what I do, but rather that they experiment and use what comes more natural to them.

What I do think every artist should do is paint. Painting every day is like exercise to your body and health. It gets easier and easier to pick up a brush. The other benefit is to have your pallet and easel already set up. I keep my watercolors handy, but I love my oils. By the way, don't keep using a medium if it makes you feel inept. There are so many mediums and instructors, there is no reason to be struggling. Early in my art career, I was taught that watercolor was a practice medium. This was where you went to work out what you were planning to do. Oil was the serious way to paint. If you wanted to show on Main Street, you painted as an impressionist oil painter, or better yet, a plein-aire impressionist. Now I sketch often, paint in watercolor for fun or when I travel. I do acrylic when I just have to have instant gratification, and I do oil for landscapes and figures.

I told someone recently that I have just about everything in art supplies. That's a side effect of working in art supply stores. But looking at my body of work for the last year, it seems like I only use about 10% of what I have. I definitely wish I had started with less and added as I went along. At least now I can run out to the studio and just grab what I need. I don't need to run to the store before I can start on a piece. That doesn't stop me from shopping, I just buy what is on sale now.

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