Oil painting was once associated only with professionals, as ready made oil paints weren’t available. The basic pigments had to be purchased, ground to a powder and then mixed with oils. With the arrival of oil paints around 150 years ago, the technique that commanded the highest praise was ready to be sampled by amateurs and beginners. It is a unique form of painting, but it can be carried out by simple methods. Here is an abstract oil painting technique suitable for beginners.
Preparing the Canvas
If the canvas material is unprimed the first step would be to prime the canvas on which you’ll be applying your paint. This involves wedging to ensure the canvas is tension is appropriate and then applying gesso in even strokes with a broad brush to achieve a suitable painting surface. After the primer has dried, it can be smoothed a final time with sandpaper if required. The canvas is now ready to work on with oil or acrylic paints.
Painting the Canvas
There are many different approaches to creating an abstract oil painting on canvas. But what’s clear is that you don’t proceed to colour the canvas based on a vague idea in your mind. According to many artists a random oil painting involves multiple stages beginning with the foundational step where the basic idea of the painting is revealed using outlines made by charcoal. This is to establish the primary and secondary objects to be depicted in the painting and their positions in the background.
Charcoal to the Final Rendition
So you begin with charcoal, create a vague sketch, rub it off so as to remove the lines but still be able to see the idea. Then, use the brush and oil paint to re-draw those outlines to establish values. Then add colour randomly, painting the darker areas first and then painting or leaving the lighter areas (areas which you wish to depict as being brightened by light) of the intended painting. The colours applied at this stage are subtle and random to establish tonality. This is basically called the “underpainting.” On this draft the final colours are applied, after another stronger outline is given. This is the final rendition and areas of colour need to be carefully applied with each nuance felt, and moving from the darker to the lighter areas that were earlier left blank. Then you have a beautiful painting in hand, which provides a three dimensional effect and exudes an air of professionalism.
This is a typical technique to paint pictures that don’t depict minute, analytical details. But even without details you can create a pleasing painting and following this technique which is suitable for beginners. Painting in stages is systematic and provides a larger window for professionalism in an easier manner.
An important quality required for any artist is observation and the ability to interpret and depict the object’s texture, tone, scale and its relationship to things around. This quality helps particularly when you are in the exploratory, foundational stages of your oil painting. An amateur artist with a keen sense of observation can make effective use of this abstract oil painting technique for beginners and create beautiful paintings.