It’s been a long time since I’ve introduced oil painting to one of my groups of younger students but when I entered the studio yesterday to prep for my class, I suddenly had the urge to do it! I deviated entirely from what I had planned for the day and instead starting prepping canvases, paint trays, rags and brushes so that the kids could learn about oil paints while painting an owl. We used water soluble paints in order to avoid the need for smelly chemicals (the kids thought the paints were smelly enough).
Part of learning to paint with oils at any age is learning to be patient. Students are usually excited to take home their projects the day they make them so I could see them adjusting a bit when I told them it would take a few weeks to finish. I worked with them to create a painting in the same way I would if I sat down to work: toning the canvas and wiping away a general outline of the owl, working lean (thin) to fat (thick) with their paint by adding plenty of linseed oil in the beginning stage and thinking about the overall shapes and characteristics of the owl rather than getting caught up in details in the beginning. We even learned to mix a “black” using brown and blue!
The kids were excited to be working with such grown-up materials and their under-paintings came out great. Next week we’ll go back into them to further develop the surface, details and value structure.