Tag Archives: oil paintings

Back to School

Never having attended a formal art school has at times made me feel a little left out of the loop in the art world. While I am a big fan of studying painting by learning  modern and past masters techniques from books, I finally reached the point where I definitely needed to take a more direct route to improving my paintings. Thanks to the miracle of modern technology and Johannes and Ken Vloothuis at Improvemypaintings.com I have stumbled upon the perfect blend of inexpensive home study and painting lessons by expert instructors who amazingly seem to care that I learn and apply the concepts they are teaching. They didn’t ask me to write this and I’m not being paid to do so. I’m just so impressed with the video streamed classes I have taken so far that I wanted to share a little of my experience.

Market Day - oi - 8"x10" l- Leah Wiedemer

Market Day – oi – 8″x10″ l- Leah Wiedemer

The most recent class I took dealt with working with a limited palette. The Zorn palette consists of ivory black, titanium white, yellow ochre light and cadmium red.  The painting above was my first attempt at using this palette. I loved the challenge of mixing all the shades, values and variety I needed using only four tubes of paint. By watching Ken work I was able to see how I could paint wet on wet, something that had always alluded me.

The Tomoka - oil - 9"x 12" - Leah Wiedemer

The Tomoka – oil – 9″x 12″ – Leah Wiedemer

Johannes offered a class on painting trees and foliage. Much of what he taught I knew on some intuitive level, but learning the whys and wherefores has been invaluable. The painting “The Tomoka” was what I did as a result.

Hidden Path - oil - 8" x 10" - Leah Wiedemer

Hidden Path – oil – 8″ x 10″ – Leah Wiedemer

This painting is where I combined everything I learned in the past couple of months. I used the Zorn palette, but added small touches of cad yellow and burnt siena.

Taking these online classes has given me a new excitement for painting. I pick up my brushes, squeeze out my paints and attack my canvases with confidence and happy anticipation.  Have you taken classes that ignited your passion? Do you have a favorite instructor you would like to brag about? Did a weekend workshop change you life?  Leave a comment and tell me about it.


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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.

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