Six Steps to a Finished Oil Painting

There seem to be few hard and fast rules in oil painting which can be both liberating and paralyzing all at the same time. The one rule I do try to follow is the lean to fat rule. I generally use straight paint until the final layer where I may add a little oil for glazing or small touches. When the painting is dry to the touch in about a week or so I will go over the whole thing with oil. This may or may not be the prescribed method, so if you would like to school me on what is proper please leave a comment. The following is the process I used for this particular painting.

Step One:  First I sketched out my composition with vine charcoal, taking pains to get the lines and angles positioned just right.

Step Two: I very loosely blocked in the buildings and water. Then I began painting the buildings on the right, working in an abstract texture with a pallet knife. This was a lot of fun for me to create texture and design using a knife.

venice 1

 Step Three:  Here I began working on the left hand side buildings going from back to front. I wanted to keep the back buildings a bit hazy and less defined to indicate distance.

venice 2

Step Four: Now I’m ready to begin a slightly more finished look on the front buildings. I would still like to keep it fairly loose so I go back to using my pallet knife to add texture but no real detail.

venice 3


Step Five: It is time to put in the boats on the left and do more work on the gondola on the right.  I also decided to add another figure at the railing. She wasn’t in my photo reference, but she was in my head. Also, I’ve made a few adjustments here and there on some of the window lines that looked a little wonky to me.

venice 5



Step Six: I went back over the water, adding highlights and reflections. I added some flowers to a window box on the right, and went over the sky again.  Then it was just some general tweaking  and I was ready to sign.

venice final web


That’s how I tackled this  48″ x36″ work. I used a pallet knife for about 70% of the painting. Comment to let me know what painting rules you follow and which ones you like to ignore.



1 Comment

Filed under art, travel

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

This year has brought a lot of newness to our lives.  My family and I find ourselves in a new town and of course a new home. We weren’t necessarily looking for change, but now that it has come we are very happy.  This is my new studio. Don’t you love that big window?

new studio

new studio

I have new plans to begin plein aire painting.  Our new location is near the ocean so I expect my work to reflect that fact. heron

This guy posed for me today. I’ll be back to paint this area on a day the sun makes an appearance. There is much exploration and local roaming to be done. As we continue to unpack boxes and become better organized the roaming will commence. I believe it’s true what they say. Change is good.

May all of your changes will be good changes.


Leave a comment

Filed under art, business, travel, Uncategorized

6 Parts of a Successful Art Biz

This was going to be the year that I finally got my art business act together.  I was going to successfully divide my time between record keeping, blogging, keeping in touch with clients, posting on social media sites, and attending and participating in shows while still carving out time to create new work. Those were and are my goals. This is what actually happened.

I began 2012 by attending business planning webinars. I read and studied a multitude of art business books. I joined a dynamic group of artists who also wanted to up their game business wise. I even began to implement some of the practices I was learning. Go me! Then my husband and I decided to move from our home of 25 years to a town about 65 miles away. All of my good intentions are being put on hold till the new year. But even with this disruption of my business make-over I believe I have made some progress.

While not the queen of social media, I am getting better at posting more consistently. Facebook makes me mutter and wonder if there is any such thing as privacy anymore, but I continue to grudgingly use it. I like the challenge of short messages on Twitter, but feel lost in the crowd. Google plus is something I want to use more, but alas I must confess that I don’t really understand it yet.

I started using a cataloging program called The Artwork Archive and I love it. It could be my best new decision for this year. I can print out consignment sheets with all the pertinent information including a thumbnail of each painting. I still have some older works to upload, but have made it a habit to immediately add new work as soon as it is completed. For this I am enthusiastically patting myself on the back.

I’ve always been a receipt saver, but I haven’t delved into quicken books or any book keeping software yet. I’m very old school on this point so I’ll work on that for 2013. In a blink it will be tax time and once again time to repent for my haphazard record keeping.

My newsletters are going out more regularly and I have made more of an effort to add new email addresses. It can be challenging to come up with fresh and interesting material every month. My goal here is to make my newsletter something people look forward to getting. So if you are on my subscriber list and this just makes you laugh, I’m open to topic suggestions! I expect December’s letter to say something like, “I’m moving at Christmas time! Ackkkk! See you next month when I hopefully will be more coherent”.

In order for me to participate in shows the way I would like to I need a bigger car. Well, that isn’t going to happen anytime soon, so I need to find more indoor venues. Which means getting my hermit like self out there in my new town and meet people. Maybe I can schedule an open house for the first part of the year to this end. No promises, but it is an idea I’m kicking around.

So that covers my successes, failures and postponements for 2012. I read a quote recently that said, “Life is what happens when you are making other plans”. Never a truer word was said.  What goals have you reached this year? What are your goals for next year? I’d love to hear about them.


Filed under art, business

What’s Your Favorite Color?

so many colors Do you remember when that was a go to “getting to know you” question in grade school? Well, children may know more than we give them credit for. Color preferences can still tell us a lot about ourselves and each other. Colors can influence our moods, create harmony or discord, peace or agitation, excitement or melancholy. Do you have a favorite color?
When I was growing up my favorite color changed almost daily. I still don’t have one favorite color. I do however have favorite color combinations. Certain colors put together give me a little thrill. I bought a sweater more than thirty years ago that I still have because it has the delicious (to me anyway) color combo of an ultramarine base with bright kelly green circles. That might not be your cup of tea, but whenever I see those colors together I have to smile.
Who didn’t experience a thrill of excitement upon opening that deluxe box of Crayola crayons for the first time and seeing all of those beautiful shades with their perfect points? The possibilities seemed endless. I get that same thrill now when I get a new box of soft pastels – the price tag for delight has definitely increased as anyone knows who has invested in a set of pastels. Still, it’s nice to know that my childhood pleasures continue.  
Do colors affect your moods? I read that people who spend a lot of time in a yellow room tend to be agitated and more argumentative. But I find a soft devonshire cream yellow to be soothing. A room done in caution sign yellow would probably make me into a raving lunatic. Red supposedly makes you feel hungry. That could explain my weight gain since I painted our kitchen red. Oh well, I like it so it stays. Orange seems to be a color that people either love or hate. On a recent shopping expedition it was a sea of orange in various intensities with a sprinkling of contrasting and complimentary colors. Orange on its own doesn’t do much for me, but mixed with all of those complimentary and contrasting shades it was rich and eye popping. Blue is very often chosen as a favorite color. It evokes feelings of tranquility, and we really can’t have too much of that.  However it’s cousin purple is less popular. At one time my red kitchen was purple and my children liked to refer to me as ‘the artist formerly known as mom’. For now I prefer the hunger inducing red.

So, here we are back to where we started.  Tell me – What is your favorite color? 


Filed under art

Exploring Techniques,and Materials for Soft Pastels

Who hasn’t seen an especially appealing, or unique work of art and thought “I want to do that!”?  I love to study the works of masters, both past and contemporary to learn new to me techniques and perhaps try those techniques on different surfaces or with different tools and materials.

After reading about the use of under painting for soft pastels I decided to give it a try. I sprayed a bit of adhesive on the back of a piece of Canson Mi- Teintes paper and stuck it on gator board.  I drew a light sketch on the paper and then got out my water colors and went to work. I just blocked in color, not trying to do a finished painting by any means. With my under painting dry I was ready to go to work with my soft pastels.  I did get some waves to my paper, but when I was finished I took it off the gator board and taped it back to the board painted side down. Then I carefully applied water to the back making sure my tape held securely. When it was completely dry I weighted it down with some heavy books for a few minutes just as an extra measure.  Viola! A flat painting ready to frame.

Heading For the Barn – Leah Wiedemer

Next I decided to try the same technique with different paper. I chose a piece of Uart Sanded paper and again used the spray adhesive on the back. This paper definitely lent itself better to the water color under painting. I experienced none of the buckling as the previous attempt and I loved the effect. This is a landscape just before the fog lifted near Barga, Italy.

Vineyard Path by Leah Wiedemer

For my final experiment I tired a piece of beautiful handmade paper from India. I’m a sucker for deckle edges so I was pretty excited about this paper. I prepped the paper the same as in the first two paintings. Sadly the paper didn’t hold up well to the water color under painting. It seemed to want to disintegrate under my brush. In my head I heard “Abort! Abort!”. So I did. This is the finished painting anyway. It is the scene out of my window where I stayed in Barga, Italy at Casa Cordati.

View From the Big Room by Leah Wiedemer

Please sign up to receive my newsletter by clicking the link on the sidebar. Newsletter subscribers get special rewards and discounts!

To see these and other paintings of mine please visit my website.

“Like” my Facebook page to keep up with all of my latest paintings and exhibits.

Leave a comment

Filed under art

Should You Clean That Painting?

Whether you have acquired an oil painting at an art fair, from an antique dealer, a yard sale or inherited it from a maiden aunt. Chances are if it isn’t already dark and dirty, it will eventually  need cleaned. So do you attempt this delicate operation on your own or take it to a professional?  You have probably seen the story of the 19th century fresco in a church in Spain that was rather inexpertly restored by a hobbyist in the neighborhood. Here is the story with before and after pictures. This is an extreme example of DIY restoration gone horribly wrong. But let’s keep it in mind as a cautionary tale.

If you haven’t been trained as an art restorer , a painting of any value be it sentimental or monetary should be taken to a professional for its cleaning. They will carefully clean the dirt caused by smoke and air pollution from your painting with a chemical cleaning agent most likely alternated with a neutralizer on one very small section at a time. Then your restorer will apply a fresh layer of varnish to help protect your painting for years to come.

If you still want to try to spruce up your paintings on your own there are a few simple methods you can try for a light cleaning.  Squish up a piece of doughy bread and roll it across your painting changing to a fresh piece often. Some also recommend lightly rubbing a cut onion over your painting. One thing to be careful of is applying too much pressure to the canvas. It is best to support the canvas underneath with something that is the same depth as the stretcher bars on the canvas.

For tips on repairing a torn canvas please see my post entitled “Can This Painting Be Saved“. So the decision to hire a professional or do it yourself is entirely your own, but choose wisely! Let me know your experiences with art restoration in the comments.

Leave a comment

Filed under art

Pets, Their Portraits and Their Names

Lately I’ve been painting a lot of pet portraits in soft pastel. This is some of the most enjoyable commission work I’ve done. We love our pets! And judging by their expressions, our pets love us back.

And why not? Is anything too good for our faithful companions? No! We dress them, play with them, provide comfy beds (sometimes OUR beds) and prepare the best food available.

But before all that, we name them. It has been great fun learning all the names bestowed upon these furry friends and I thought I’d share them with you.

Sweet Pea                          Linus                     Guinness

Nutmeg                              Olive Oil                  Ziggy

Tink                                   Heidi

Bailey                                Daisy

Now for a game… can you match the picture with the name?ImageImageImageImageImageImageImage


Leave a comment

Filed under art, Pets, Uncategorized