So, I used to have secret dreams of becoming a beret-wearing, cigarette smoking, beatnik artist. It would be nothing for me to pick up a shirt or two because, “I could see myself painting in that”. However, through my grown-up years, I’ve found that while the art we hear the most about is often wrapped in pretentiousness and snob-jobbery, most artists are not. The best artists are the ones who aren’t afraid to give up their secrets and let you experiment for yourself, a la:
Ba-blam! Bob Ross is the man. Not only is his soothing, melodic voice the only thing I can stand on hung-over Saturday mornings, but he actually cuts the bullshit and tells you exactly what to do. Ex. Take your brush… put it in the titanium white, put it here on the canvas. Fabulous. I love a man who can talk about painting and not the “pain deep in my soul” (artsy fartsy types drive me off the deep end). So, I’ve taken a cue from Mr. Ross and figured I’d post up some instructions on making some cute “stick up on your wall” art. However, I’m going to let you in on a little secret about oil painting that no-one tells you: that shizz is expensive. And in my opinion a painting shouldn’t cost a hundred-gazillion dollars to be seen as an accomplishment. I’m not ashamed to say that I’m a cheap-decorator and I’d rather make my own artwork than hang up some swirls of paint from some chap I don’t know from my Uncle Ernie. So, here goes:
What you’ll need:
- One piece of canvas. I prefer the stretched stuff because getting paintings framed is a major hassle, for which I have no time. “Gallary Wrap” is what fancy fuddy-duddies call this stuff 😉 You can get this at most craft stores but you could end up fiddling away your hard earned nickels. Walmart canvas is where it’s at. I got a pack of 5 for somewhere abouts 20 bucks.
- 1 bottle of paint thinner. You can get this anywhere. Mine cost me 2 dollars and will last me until apocalypse is upon us.
- Assorted brushes. This is the only place I’ll ever tell anyone not to skimp. There’s no need to buy individual brushes because they’re usually expensive and often end up getting destroyed (maybe that’s because I paint like I’m at war) but a nice pack of 5 nylon ones will run you 5-7 dollars and you will use these for everything. Read the labels carefully, because stiff bristles will make your painting look like you did it with a rake. Take care of your brushes and they’ll take care of you. Although, I recommend not leaving them in charge of your children as they won’t take care of them.
- Oil Pastels. Now, some arts stores are tricky and will tell you that these suckers can go for pretty expensive and then they’ll try and sell you the best that money can buy. I got these for a dollar at Dollarama and they are golden. Hoo-ah!
Step One: Print this. You may need to make it bigger or smaller depending on how big your canvas is. Or, eyeball it if you got drawing skills.
If you have printed the above, cut out the pink dotted lines.
Slap it on your canvas and lightly trace around it with a pencil. I say lightly because if you leave too much lead behind you’ll end up muddling the grey into your colours and everything will end up a hazy shade of Winter. After you’re done tracing you may have to add in a couple lines here and there that are un-traceable, like the lines in the cupcake cup.
Pick your colours and go to town with oil pastels. They work just like crayons. Try not to press too hard, because you don’t want itty-bits of crumbled pastel all over the place. If it’s not dark enough for your liking you can always go back and add more after the painting step. For the background pick a lighter colour pastel and use it horizontally on the canvas so you can cover a large area. I’d recommend applying a little bit more pastel in the corners, making it darker and giving your picture some depth.
Dip your brush of choice in your paint thinner and stroke along your pastels. Give it a go and don’t be afraid. I’ve seen my friend Marlena stare at a blank piece of canvas for what seems like hours, terrified to touch brush to canvas lest she make a mistake. This is not science, put down the rulers, people! If you think something would look good, throw it in there. I just put some circles in the background doing the same “technique”, drawing in oil pastel then painting over with paint thinner. This is your painting and it represents you. It figures that my favorite things to paint are tarts ;).
When you get into it it takes you a very short time to make one painting and you’ll get braver at free-handing. Here are a couple more I did:
Step Five: Stand back and marvel at your masterpiece which costs about five, fiddy. Sign your name and display proudly. Or, better yet, sign someone else’s name and tell all your artsy-fartsy friends you got it at auction for a c-note.