Painting Like the Old Masters

This weekend, assuming I catch the FedEx guy, I will re-begin a painting project which I had started about ten years ago.  I was lucky in some respects to be trained as a painter by some instructors who actually knew something of the craft of real painting – not this post-modernist ‘whatever-ness’ we keep seeing in university programs these days.  Unfortunately, these instructors of mine were all retiring when I was in school, so their interest in actually teaching was very limited.  I ended up getting mostly wisdom about what art and painting is and was, and what they will be, as opposed to knowing how to handle paints, mediums, canvas, and the like.  There has been such a movement away from the materials, it’s really very sad, especially more sad the more that one learns how to actually handle the paint.  A number of those Sunday-painter type websites out there have mantras whereby they tell new artists to paint every day and eventually they will learn the craft.  This is insanity.  They may learn something, sure, maybe how to see better – but they will most likely not learn much from what the old masters were to pass down.  When knowledge like craft in painting is lost, it is always a dismal thing.  This recent movement toward expression being the focus of a work of art is also defeating to those of us few that know something more about aesthetic and how a powerful work s made.  But we do have to make a careful, yet distinct, separation between the trade painters and the artists out there – something like a literati vs. an intelligentsia in the fine arts. I know there is already a distinction, but by knowing how to handle the mediums, we can further separate this group to understand why they might be separate.

I’m off the point again.  This weekend, I will begin some direct work with a mass variety of mediums and medium recipes, which all artists should some day do.  I’d been using stuff I had to pick up through crap art supply chains, I won’t list them here, but these materials from chains are so useless to a painter.  The materials are ok for students, but if I were instructing again, I would make my students grind their own paints and know what it means to be the painter in control of the work.

So, Saturday sometime, we shall begin a new painting with some oil of turpentine, Venice turp., and work in the upper layers of another painting with some fabulous Nut oil.  Very exciting!


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