You now have your painting tools assembled. Make sure that you know where everything is. Place your canvas on your easel; put your paints onto your palette (either paper or hard surface) Lay out the colors you intend to use. Make sure your brushes are clean. Have your painting medium (turpentine, oil or whatever) in a tin, glass or other container made for that purpose. I clean tuna cans after use and use that to hold my brush cleaner. There are items made to hold your cleaner if you prefer, some with a ring in the bottom to help clean the brush. Have either paper towels or toilet paper handy, or, if you prefer, cleaning rags. Remember to dispose of these paint-cleaning papers or rags carefully as they can combust and cause a fire..
Once you are set up, draw a one inch border around your canvas. This is to remind you not to paint all the way to the edge with parts of your painting that you don’t want to “disappear” when you go to frame it. You are ready to go! But wait! What are you going to paint??
You can paint from a photograph you have. Or, from a picture in a magazine or calendar. The problem with the latter is the magazine art may be copyrighted. If it is, you must identify the source of your painting as coming from a copyrighted source, and you must change a percentage of the picture so it will not be a copy. You may be wanting to copyright your own works one day. There are a number of sites on the Internet that explain what the copyright laws are. I won’t go into that here.
Or, you could purchase my Inspiration CD with over 500 photographs you are able to use for painting your artwork. While these photographs cannot be used commercially without permission, the CD comes with permission to use for painting.
You are ready to begin. First, draw your Horizon Line (or eye level) on the canvas. This will determine perspective for your artwork. Unless you are painting in the abstract, this level determines where everything will sit and be sized on the canvas. You may now start drawing. I used the paint thinned way down to draw. I find this makes my work looser and less rigid. You may prefer to use a pencil and draw your subject. Later lessons will give more information on perspective and how to draw certain objects.
If this is your first painting, just go for it. Don’t worry about the details, draw it as you want to see it.
You may or may not want to put an “underpainting” on the canvas. This means you would choose a basic cool or warm color that would cover the entire canvas. Choosing the opposite color on the color wheel will give depth to your painting. In short, this means that if your painting will be basically green, (as in a landscape) a red underpainting or an orange one would be what you use. The same for a seascape, you would use an orange underpainting. If you are going to do a painting with a lot of yellow, you may use a violet or purple underpainting.
Simply paint a “wash” of your color over the entire canvas, either thinly or heavy, depending on how much importance it will play in your finished work. You can let this dry, and then draw on the canvas, or you can do a thin wash over your drawing so that you can see it. I do not use underpainting often.
When you paint in oil, keep in mind that a canvas has many little indentations. Make sure your paint is thick enough to fill the indentations, or you may wind up with a lot of little “vacations” (areas without paint that look like little white spots).
Okay, you have your canvas ready, and your drawing done. On to the next lesson.