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An insight into Traditional Oil Painting... My Way!

I have only been using oil paint for just over 4 years... when I began my internship with James Gillick. I'm sure many artists would agree that the thought of using oils is rather daunting, and the idea of having to wait days for the paint to dry is less than appealing. However, this is far from the truth and my love for the medium has continued to grow over the years.

An oil painting can speak a thousand words, but unfortunately for the artist it doesn't tell you the amount of time and effort that you have gone to... and that's even before any paint had touched the surface!

I make all my own panels, which involves hours of preparation and hard work. At times I wonder if it's all worth it, as most people wouldn't even notice, however this gives me a unique position whereby I can create the exact size, texture and finish that I want. After a period of around a week and a lot of elbow grease I end up with a selection of different sized panels, ready to use.

Once the panels are primed and ready to go, the fun bit starts. But it's not as easy as putting paint to canvas! As well as making my own panels, I also make all my own oil paints, painting mediums and varnishes. The idea of knowing exactly where everything has come from is a great feeling, and gives an extra special aspect to each of my paintings. I won't bore you with the details of how everything is made, but it's safe to say by this point I am ready to get painting!

Picking a subject matter is extremely important, and as I am currently building up my portfolio of work to exhibit in galleries, I really have no limits. This is a great feeling, however it is important to be confident in your subject matter, whether it be an animal or still life as this will come across in the painting. Once my subject is chosen, I always begin with an under-painting. An under-painting is a simplistic version of your chosen subject, allowing you to get the right dimensions, sizes and colours. This then usually takes a few days to dry, giving you plenty of time to study your subject further.

When it's finally time to begin the main painting, I usually work for a couple of hours at a time over 1 or 2 weeks (maybe even 3 if its a large piece!). Even though this process if extremely time consuming, the slow drying nature of the oil paint allows me to add and alter as I go, which is extremely beneficial, and something which has sustained my love for oils.

Once a painting is finished, varnished and framed it's difficult to see the amount of time an artist has gone to. Although artwork is usually down to personal preference, I think it is really important to understand the processes it has gone through. It's common knowledge that artwork is "priceless" and only worth what someone is prepared to pay, however I hope people will now consider how my oil paintings become what they are, and the amount of time and effort I put into them.

I currently have some of my oil paintings in The Spencer Coleman Fine Art Gallery in Stamford and hope to exhibit in more galleries all over the country in the near future.

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