Even though I stick primarily with watercolors, yesterday’s Art Talk about oil painting, materials, techniques and framing proved quite interesting. Barb Tobiska led a lively discussion among the seven of us attending. Proficiency ranged from beginner to advanced, but we all learned something new.
In talking about paint brands, Barb wowed us with some unbelievably high prices for certain colors in a Dick Blick catalog. But don’t let that scare you off as everyone had their own affordable preferred manufacturers, from Grumbacher, Winsor and Newton, to the water based oil paint made by Holbein that Cindy Ahrenkiel uses. One thing Barb Tobiska stressed is to know your own colors. Many beginners buy so many different colors, but don’t know what they have when it comes time to paint. I know I’m guilty of those spontaneous purchases of beautiful new hues offered by Daniel Smith, Cheap Joe’s or other online catalogs. Barb held up color charts she’d made of all her paints, arranged by color and temperature (cool to warm). That way, when you’re needing a certain hue for your current painting project, it’s easy to refer to your charts.
So many mediums are now available to mix with oil paints. Glazes, binders, gels, waxes and varnishes can make colors more transparent, give an even sheen to a finished work and protect your masterpiece. When these additives are mixed in, it is prudent to employ a heavier substrate. Canvases vary substantially, in texture, in weight and in quality of stretching (if pre-stretched). Be sure to check for unwanted pockets in the corners, or if a canvas is stretched too loosely. Pre-mounted canvas on masonite is another option.
When it comes to framing an oil painting, what is acceptable? Is it necessary to use a frame? The general consensus was that unframed canvases are acceptable as long as the edges are painted and no staples or nails show. Deep stretchers are preferable and look more professional than thin stretchers. At one time, ornate gold frames with linen liners were the norm – not so much any more. Metal, wood or composite can all look nice, although composite frames tend to chip easily and don’t always hold screw eyes firmly. Dust covers on the back really aren’t required for oil paintings and tend to easily rip during transport. If the choice is made to frame an oil painting, it must be done properly, as a poor framing job (damaged frames, chipped glass, improper hanging hardware) can be reason for rejection by a juror.
There’s always something interesting and educational going on at the Lakewood Arts Council Community Center and Gallery. Check the website www.lakewoodartscoucil.org to see what’s coming up next!