Still life study of pears

Recently when I bought a group of Sadie Valeri’s video lessons, I went ahead and purchased her Introduction to Oil Painting video. Even thought I’m not a total beginner, it seemed like a good way to ease into her oil painting instruction.

I’m really happy I got it! Even thought I’ve been painting with oils for a little while now, I learned new things from her. Her simplified explanation of the types of brushes (grouped into hog bristle and sable) was clarifying for me, as well as a process for which type of brush to use when. The approach she covers in the video allows for the painting to be done all at once or in 2–3 sessions.

pears study for SV Intro to Oil Painting lesson
Pear still life study, 9×12, oil on linen panel

I did my brown underpainting with raw umber one day, then went back to finish with the first and second color layers the next day. Thinking in terms of layers has been very liberating for me — even though I knew some people painted in layers I didn’t have a good working understanding of the spectrum available to us.

It was also really cool to see her color mixing strategy because it was structured around a basic process of local color, shadow color, and highlight, but she also showed how there’s flexibility within this framework. With painting landscapes, there’s a bit less emphasis on modeling form so my color mixing usually ended up all over the place. By working with still life and controlling the lighting, I’ll be able adopt a more coherent process for mixing colors based these logical strings of colors.

I’m excited to one day be able to combine fresh, loose brush strokes with accuracy and intentional mark-making. Basically to be able to control what’s happening on my canvas instead of overworking it. I think the best thing I can do toward that goal is to enjoy the process and keep practicing. And be willing to use more paint! Continuing to study Sadie’s oil painting curriculum will definitely help.

I think it’s going to be fun to experiment with different still life setups now that I have this nice box installed on my wall. I don’t care for the angle I chose for this painting very much, and next I want to try raising things up closer to eye level.