Becoming an Oil Painter


How does one become an oil painter?

For me, and I suspect most in the pursuit, the path has not been a linear trajectory but rather chaotic - like hiking a mountain trail – climb the path, rest at an overlook, contemplate, continue ahead, stumble, seek balance, and proceed, or something similar.

To continue the metaphor, getting to a proficient level requires getting in shape – spending the time it takes to learn the rudiments of painting – composition, color theory, value, intensity, and edge work as well as developing proficiency in manipulating the medium itself with the tools of the trade - brushes, palette knives, fingers, etc.  

By now, many people have heard of or read Malcolm Gladwell on mastery of a skill; that it requires 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. This is just a theory, of course, though I have talked with several noted artists in the field and I have heard repeatedly that it wasn’t until they had been painting for around 20 years, that they felt a degree of mastery. I have also talked with others who tell me that something just “clicked” early on and they have become successful in much less time, but I suspect they are the exception and not the rule!

If you are considering becoming a painter, may I suggest this - take a few classes with someone who is excited about teaching, and try it out. If you like it, invest in the basics (including some recommended books or videos) and go for it – PAINT!