Learning to Paint

12 Jul

The more I paint, it seems, the more there is to learn. I suppose that has as much to do with the fact that there is an unlimited number of things that I could paint as it does with my lack of skill as a painter. I had been accepted to the School of Visual Arts in New York City when I was much younger, but after a week of attending classes, I was unable to continue making the trip across the river, and dropped out. I more or less forgot about art for a long time after that, but when I was nudged back into it by the decision to paint oil portraits of my sister's dogs for Christmas gifts, I was not prepared for how much the process would involve problem solving. It was not just a matter of learning how to arrange a composition, or mix colors, or which brushes worked best, but also a question of talent and innate skills. I had enough to get me into a prestigious art school, but when I actually sat down to do my first portrait without that education, the hours seemed to drag on while I pushed paint around on the canvas, and made frequent changes and false starts before I actually began to see progress. I suppose I could have cut to the chase a lot quicker if I had stayed in school and learned something about technique, but there is something to be said for wandering into unfamiliar territory and finding your own way. It makes every painting a lesson in itself, and the learning process never ends.

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