Sunday, July 3, 2011

Frustration by the tube

I am a watercolorist. I knew this to be a fact long before I began painting in watercolor. From my initial forays in high school, I have pronounced that I have the soul of a watercolorist, but I was nearly 50 before I began working in it. The medium is "mine" to the core. The colors that can be achieved through many layered washes, sometimes a couple of dozen or more in a single area of a painting, never fail to excite my eyes and my heart. It is a passionate love affair.
Sunlit Poppy
Oil painting by Lynne Hurd Bryant

I have heard other artists speak of watercolor as unforgiving, difficult to control and tedious. In the next breath, they will extoll all the finer qualities of oil paint. I will agree with oil being luminous and lustrous, that is has a certain glow, but I have never found it easy to work with. I have always considered painting in oil like trying to paint with bathroom caulking. It is thick, pasty, gooey, messy, difficult to pry from under the fingernails; in short is impossible to work with. I never could get the paint to come off the brush and onto the surface, so my paintings didn't look like my work, they didn't carry my style. My ignorance of the medium was bliss, as I charged away at watercolor paintings.

I have had reasons for wanting to work in oils, and none of them had to do with passion. I have always considered oil painting to be akin to "en pointe." You learn to dance in ballet slippers and then, when you have worked hard enough, you graduate to toe shoes. It had been easy to dismiss, but I found I needed to paint in oil to further my marketing and my artistic career.

Over the course of 2011, I have researched about oils and the bliss of my ignorance changed to desire and excitement. I spent time carefully acquiring my watercolor pigments in oil paint (no black, brown or gray). I purchased a type of brush I used to love for acrylic while in art school. I shopped for the perfect easel for my needs and bought 5 cases of canvas panels. Then, after much trepidation, I took a deep breath and started in.
The poppy with this blog is the result of about 5 hours of painting in oils. It was a relaxed, joyous, capable 5 hours. The modern mediums for blending oil paint are miraculous and speed up the drying time. The colors flowed off the brush in creamy strokes of intense color. All the problems I have ever had with oils were simply nonexistent. The best part is that those familiar with my work will recognize it as my style. I successfully translated my own personal magic to another medium. Oil paint did not defeat me.

I owe watercolor for so many lessons. It taught me to fine tune my "eye" and to have patience. It taught me to see and to think, not merely to look. The gentle medium with its transparent layers helped me grasp the subtleties of value and color. This has never been more apparent than in this oil painting where all of my knowledge was put to use.


  1. Beautiful work. As an art major I preferred watercolor to work in because....silly here....I was a clean freak and couldn't stand getting oil paints on me!!!

  2. Hi there, Your work is gorgeous. Good for you conquering the oil paints. I have a feeling this blog is going to be great color inspiration for me in my beadwork.