In April my family went down to Bemis School of Art for a kids’ art day or something like that. While the kids had a great time, just walking into an art classroom again brought me back to some of my best memories of college. I hadn’t quite realized how much I enjoyed the structured creativity of an art course way back when.
So with some birthday money I signed up for an oil painting course. I’ve done plenty of painting in my recent years—watercolors mostly—but there was something extra intimidating about oils. I can’t quite place if it was the non-water-based nature of the materials or the ridiculously long drying time that kept me away, but I thought this would be the context to work all that out.
All my concerns were put to rest within the first week of the six-week course, which meant I had five Wednesday nights to cut loose and really explore the medium. And let me say this: I am never using acrylics again if I can help it.
The smell of the paints (and the “odorless” thinner), the creamy texture, the fact that I can go back in and rework parts that didn’t quite happen how I’d like… There are many reasons to love oil paints. But I think the biggest one is the sense of historical continuity. Cezanne is one of my favorite painters, if not the favorite, and using the same basic materials that he did gives me a sense of a level playing field with so many greats from long ago. Plus, I’ll be honest, the big wooden palette I got makes me feel pretty important. My ego is easily massaged.
So now that the course is over I have to figure out how and where to place oil painting in my life. Even if nothing comes of it, on a purely creative level this is the best I’ve got.