Painting a still life in oil.

An introductory course into painting a still life with oil, focusing on development of composition and the fundamental tools and techniques of oil painting.

Instructor: Jeffrey Martin

I will be adding instructional materials here as I have time available to do so. Please check back often to see the new lessons, and welcome to the class.

Week by week lessons: ( to be added later )

Required materials and supplies.

A drawing/sketching pad: Plain paper works, but a with a pad you can keep and archive easier. 10 x 8 or larger. Pencil works best to sketch, but if you are comfortable with a pen or marker – feel free to use them. 
A set of oil paint, these are available at:
I would like you to get the 200 ml tubes if you are going to work on the larger canvases, but the small tubes I have linked here will work for smaller paintings ( 8 x 10 or such )
Standard colors include: French Ultramarine Blue, Cerulean Blue Genuine (CL), Viridian, Chromium Oxide Green, Alizarin Crimson Permanent, Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, Cadmium Orange (CL), Venetian Red, Cadmium Red Light (CL), Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Yellow Light (CL)

A Palatte for your paint. I use a glass 'cutting board', the smooth side and I paint the rough side white. Other people use glass picture frames, or a sheet of glass ( I have seen dinner plates used pretty often as well). You can purchase a palette that is specific for oil painting, I just choose to save the money and grab something smooth, ceramic (porcelain) or glass from a local thrift or second hand store.

A good brush for oil paint is stiff and similar to house painting brushes. I actually use house painting brushes, like you would find at Home Depot, but I work in a large format -- usually 6ft and larger.

A glass jar ( I use a coffee can: it is large and the solvents will not eat through it – a spaghetti sauce jar works very well too ), larger enough to hold your brushes, and a green scrubbie pad to put at the bottom. Mineral spririts or turpentine to clean the paint from your brushes ( soap and water will completely remove the paint once they are initially cleaned in the mineral spirit/turpentine  solvent.) For those of you with sensitive noses, they also come odorless.

You can find canvases at your local craft store or big-box-discount store -- I have found them at BigLots!! for an exceptional price.
If there is enough interest I can teach everyone to make their own canvas stretchers, it is far cheaper for each one, but the initial price of materials ( canvas rolls, etcetera ) may be too much for the hobbyist.
You will need something to prop your  painting up on while working, an easel is best for this, but do what you have to. I found easels at the university surplus, they are cheap and work great.  If you plan on continuing with painting, you may want to invest in a good one, at least studio quality.

***You will want some place quiet to work, as in what ever makes you artistic. I listen to music, and ignore the outside world.

What is a still life?
    A still life is a compostition of everyday objects that are not alive and do not move. 

From Wikipedia: "A still life (plural still lifes) is a work of art depicting mostly inanimate subject matter, typically commonplace objects which may be either natural (food, flowers, plants, rocks, or shells) or man-made (drinking glasses, books, vases, jewelry, coins, pipes, and so on). With origins in the Middle Ages and Ancient Greek/Roman art, still life paintings give the artist more leeway in the arrangement of design elements within a composition than do paintings of other types of subjects such as landscape or portraiture. Still life paintings, particularly before 1700, often contained religious and allegorical symbolism relating to the objects depicted."

Choosing something that means something to you, something that speaks to you is very important. Objects that would have been on the dinner table at your grandmothers house, or objects that speak to you about a subject. For instance I enjoy the image to the right with fresh bread, and empty beer bottle and a skull -- it says interesting things to me.  Here are a few links to get you thinking:

I would suggest getting objects from around the home, and setting them up in a place that will not be disturbed. Find the best angle, sit there and do about (10) ten different sketches to find a good composition. Sometimes zooming into the image is the best and most dramatic composition, find a good focal point in your arangement. It is possible to find images on the internet to paint, although you will not be able to move around them and find better angles, you are stuck with what the photographer thinks is best. Google has a few here.  More on composition here.

Choose your image and sketch about (10) ten different compositions. Please have this done this week so that we can get painting.
Brushes, how to choose the right one for the particular job you would like done. I use a basic brush set, like the ones from Dick Blick. Often I find myself getting brushes from hardware stores, because I tend to work on large (6ft by 8ft or 4ft by 12ft) canvases or panels. A good brush for oil paint is one that is stiff and or course, made from natural bristles -- there are very nice synthetic ones available too, check out what you can find.
Mineral spirits or turpentine can be found at your local hardware store, and nice air-tight glass jar to clean your brushes. When you have removed the paint from the brushes with the mineral spirits in the jar, use dish soap and water to remove the remaining paint from the bristles -- squeeze out the remaining water and store the brush bristle side up in a jar or cup, so that the bristles do not get bent or misshapen.

Underpainting. (soon)

Developing colors. (soon)

Texture. (soon)

Finishing -- glazes, and varnishes. (soon)