When I was. A little girl, I used to love to look at the oil paintings that my grandmother and her two sisters created. I would look and look...and dream. I already was aware that I had inherited the artistic talent that they all had. It had definitely been passed down to me. I promised myself that I would someday learn to paint with oils and do as well as they did. I had admired my father’s Aunt Harriet’s work in particular, as she had perfected oil painting the most.
I planned to be an artist. Being an art major was what I was going to do. That all changed my senior year of high school. That was the year I was taking an AP art class (don’t laugh...the course exists and it isn’t for the faint-hearted). My teacher was not familiar with me from any years previous, because I was basically attending a brand new high school (We were the first graduating class...the school was formed after combining 2 previously separate high schools. This teacher had taught at the “other school”) I just couldn’t keep up with the demands and pace of the class. I was getting farther and farther behind. I finally had to drop the class, or fail it. I had talent, but I didn’t like being told what I had to paint. I also didn’t work well with tight deadlines. I painted and drew at a slow rather dreamy (some might say passive) pace. That’s just who I am.
Mr. Stevens sat with me and agreed that I needed to drop the class. He basically told me that I didn’t really have what it took to pursue art as a career. I remember that during class he mostly talked about art majors becoming commercial artists. That was where the living was made. The goal was to get a lucrative career. I totally agree that I did not really have what it took to become a commercial artist. Commercial Artists have very high demands on their time and mostly have to cater to the desires, tastes and whims of their clients. Mainly, the art is created with the goal of advertising. To be fair to Mr. Stevens, I remember him saying that keeping art as a hobby was something I should do. However, at 17 years of age, I was basically shattered. All I heard was failure. All of my goals came crumbling down to the ground. I had very high marks in mathematics. I picked myself up, dusted myself off and decided I would become a math teacher. (A very poor fit, as it turned out)
Looking back, I wish I had studied art in college. At the very least, as a minor. I would have learned so much from it. Maybe I would not have ended up with a lucrative career, but honestly at the time, I wasn’t looking for one. I mostly wanted to become a wife and mother. I dreamed of being the homemaker with a little art studio in her house. I still think it sounds wonderful. If I had studied art in college, years later I still could have gone on to become a librarian (which is a really great fit for me). Years later when I went to inquire about becoming a librarian, I found out that I could have had any undergraduate degree...in literally anything at all. I know of at least one high school librarian who had studied art during her undergraduate years. She now is retired and spends most of her time doing artwork. She is having a grand time painting and making quilts.
Looking back with regret does nothing helpful to anyone. Things happen for a reason. I guess I don’t really regret the path I have taken. I am me...largely formed by my experiences...both the happy and not so happy ones. Now I must move forward. I decided to try to make good (as much as possible) on the dream to learn to oil paint. One of my cousins heard that I was interested in learning to oil paint. She gave me a little oil set that she had picked up years earlier and had never used. Unfortunately, it is a cheap and junky set. This particular set is a no name brand and runs for about $11 from Amazon. You get what you pay for in art supplies. If you use poor products, you will only be frustrated and that can set you up for failure. I learned that in the past with a set of very cheap watercolors. I was miserable. I finally went to my friend Claudia for help. She is an accomplished water color painter. At her request, I brought my paints with me. She demonstrated that she really couldn’t paint well with them either. She could paint better than I could with them to be sure...but even I could see the difference once she pulled out the good stuff.
So off I went to Michaels to look at oil paints. I found the price of good oils to be very expensive! What would I do...purchase one tube of paint at a time? My husband would totally freak at the ~$100 price tag for a basic collection of fairly good stuff (and even these were mid-grade oils, NOT top of the line). We are talking about a set of 10 tubes that each hold 37mg of paint. I checked eBay and found some incredible deals! Wow! I found a great set of Winsor & Newton oils for $60 that I estimated to be worth about $120 from Dick Blick art supplies. I wanted them, but knew that my husband would frown upon it. (Unless he saw success and commitment first) I ended up bidding on a small set of Winsor & Newton 21mg/tubes. Nine of them. I could only find this particular set (that must have originally included 10 tubes) to be available for sale in Great Britain. In the U.S.A, I couldn’t find any set that had tubes smaller than 37 mg in the Winsor & Newton brand. The set on eBay was missing lemon yellow, but included 3 bonus tubes (37mgs each) of a German brand along with another bonus 37mg tube of Winsor & Newton Indian Red. I bid on it and won it for $15, + $7.50 shipping and handling. As luck would have it, I had a $13 credit on my paypal account, due to selling something on eBay a year ago that I had actually forgotten about. So I ended up feeling the payment of $9.50! I’m happy. Now all I need to do is figure out how to buy quality brushes and learn how to do this thing called oil painting.
Incidentally, last weekend, my husband and I, along with our oldest daughter, took a day trip to the Thousand Islands where I took pictures of this sailboat that I can hopefully use some day as a visual while painting. Nice, don’t you agree?
Here is the set I won on eBay! All of my readers (all 3 of you) must hold me accountable to learn to oil paint with your inquiries as to my progress with it.