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The Joy of Painting

Essay By: Cathywrites1

I wrote this back in April of 2008 when I took my first college writing course. I truly am passionate about art because it allows one to use freedom of expression just as writing does. Please enjoy.

Submitted:Nov 25, 2008    Reads: 239    Comments: 6    Likes: 4   

To paint a picture, you need to have an appreciation for art and the fever. One might ask what this fever I am referring to is. It is the overwhelming desire to create something and it will not let your soul rest until doing so. In order to get the fever, you must look deep inside and feel a passion to create something. Each individual person has their way of achieving this feeling. What works for one person may not work for another. All I can say is that it is like a craving for a certain kind of food and that feeling won't go away until you do something about it. This fever might come and go, but when it is there, it is ever so present. This isn't something one cannot truly define, but once you experience it, will always live inside you. It's just a way of expressing what your innermost thoughts and feelings are at that moment in time. It's just you and the canvas. The world is put on hold temporarily for you to simply create, yet be reflective at the same time.
You can take art classes, watch instructed videos, and learn from someone you know, or read a book about painting before taking that first stab at creating your first painting. However, some people just decide they are going to paint and teach themselves. If you pick a book, make sure it has step by step instructions. I highly recommend the book, "An Introduction to Art Techniques" by Ray Smith, Michael Wright, and James Horton. It discusses so many different topics about creating an art project and some of the history of artwork as well. It shows examples of what to purchase and how to paint using certain methods. I, myself, learned some of the basic steps from my grandfather. We had lots of fun experimenting together with lots of different ideas and images. I idolized him as an artist because he was so intelligent and so experienced.
After figuring out what you want to paint first, you are ready for the new experience. Start out with something small so it doesn't seem too overwhelming at first. This will make your journey more enjoyable.
You want to buy a pre-stretched primed canvas, a few paint brushes, odorless thinner (if using oil paints), a small easel, brush cleaner, and some kind of palette to mix your paint on. An easel is important because you need something to hold your artwork up so you don't ruin it before drying. Thinner is only used is using oil paint, but you want odorless because if you use turpentine, you'll hate the strong smell and it can make you sick. A palette is important so you can put your paint onto a flat surface ready for mixing colors without having a horrible mess. You don't have to buy real expensive brushes, but just good quality brushes that will get the job done. You might want to consider buying a nice round bristle brush, a round synthetic brush, a round sable brush, a flat square brush, a couple of fan brushes and a few others. Sable brushes retain their shape longer than most synthetic brushes. This is important because if you have a good quality brush, you can count on that it won't lose its shape. Therefore, you won't need to buy so many brushes in the future. Different brushes give you different effects. For example, the fan brush is great for painting trees or for blending colors at times. With round sable brushes, it can give you a fine point for painting thin lines on your canvas. Square brushes can provide straight paint strokes across your canvas. You can purchase these items at any local art store.
My favorite art supply store is Dick Blick, of course, because they have such a great variety of quality goods there. They have calendars, miniature easels, childrens' projects, and many more fun items to buy. If you are not sure what the necessary tools may be, ask a clerk nearby to help you.
Take your purchased items home so you can start your project. Don't be scared of the empty canvas staring at you. It can seem intimidating at first to see the empty space, but once you start, you'll feel more comfortable as you go along. It's kind of like writing because sometimes you have a little trouble making that first attempt, but once you feel you can do it, just go with it and enjoy the learning process.
Let's say you wanted to paint a simple landscape. For me, it helps to use a pencil and draw light marks or lines on the canvas to getter a better feel of how you can organize it. Draw in the horizon line and some trees first and then you can add whatever you'd like to next. You can add a mountain, a river, or just a hint of a cabin in the background.
Go ahead and mix some of the colors together with some thinner that you'll be using, if using oil paint. Some of the colors I use are Yellow Ochre, Burnt Umber, Cadmium Red, Winsor Green, Titanium White, and Winsor Blue. It's up to each artist to decide what colors they like and want to use. I prefer these shades I've listed because most of them can be used in a landscape painting. The Yellow Ochre is a dark yellow used for bushes and highlights for grass. Burnt Umber is a reddish brown hue that is used for barns, trees to appear darker, and so forth. Winsor Green is good for trees and grasses. Winsor Blue is good for skies. Cadmium Red can be used for barns. Titanium White is great for clouds and using to lighten up hues. The white is also used in showing where the sunlight is coming from to show depth in a painting.
Take a fan brush and dip it into some blue that has thinner in it and swipe the brush across the canvas for the sky. Paint the blue down until you reach the horizon line. Don't paint completely over the trees though because then you'll forget where your drawn lines are. You then clean the same brush out and then using the Titanium White, you can add a few clouds in by making a few swirls throughout the blue sky. Take a dry brush of some sort to blend the white in to make the clouds appear wispy.
Go ahead and paint the grass green, but make sure you add any background highlights by mixing the color with a little bit of the white in first and then put in your darker greens.
With some of the dark green, paint some little trees over the horizon line so you can add depth to the background. Once that's finished, blend them together lightly using your clean fan brush.
Start to add your foreground trees in. I always paint the trunk of the trees first so you don't have to redo anything. Now if you want to put pine trees in, I prefer using a fan brush making little letter v strokes on the canvas to show some depth to them. First make them with dark green and later on add lighter highlights.
You can then take a little rounded sable brush to add in any highlights in the grass to make it appear as though there are some wild flowers in the picture.
Lastly, sign your name to it once it is dry enough. Use some color that is either much darker or lighter than your colors used so your name stands out and people can read it.


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