Amdall Girls Painting – First Solvent Use

A few weeks ago, I finally made the leap to attempt painting for the first time. I’ve long admired the “painterly” look across the different mediums, particularly the textures and qualities produced by oil paints. It’s been a long term goals to learn, but had always seemed like something I’d try some far-off, unspecified day. So, I surprised myself greatly when I suddenly got a wild hair to just go for it. The first result was surprising in many ways; first at how much pencil blending skills translated to paint, but also in how much I actually enjoyed it. I felt invigorated by it! So much so that I’m already ten paintings in, with an 11th likely started soon.

That being said, I’ve got a lot of writing to do now to catch up to all this artwork creation. In logical fashion, this post carries forward to painting number two. Since they are historically such frequent art subjects anyway, I figured it would be quite natural to try to paint my kids. Unlike the first painting, which was done all in one sitting, this one ended up as quite an extended project. I started on the same trajectory, seeming to be headed for something in the realm of a few hours of painting. Since it consisted of two subjects, I certainly expected more time than the first one.

But, I found that I wasn’t satisfied with the result after the first extended painting session. Then again after the next shorter touch up. Then again, and again. I kept returning to the painting and retouching a feature here, then adjusting colors and shadows, and so on. Part of the way through this painting, I also acquired some additional tools that made a huge difference. I finally got my hands on a solvent to thin paint when needed; some non-toxic linseed oil. And I purchased some liner brushes on Amazon, which I think were greatly needed for hair and some finer details.

I returned to this painting so many times, I really lost track of how much total time I spent on it. It was significantly more than my first painting though, that much I can say for sure. Here’s how the final version of this painting turned out:

My kids at our dinner table. Oil paint on textured paper, linseed oil solvent.

Using solvent was somewhat of a revelation. Although I was still learning how and when to apply it in this painting, I definitely think it contributed greatly to some of the additional paintings down the line. In this one of my kids though, being able to more easily lay down the background color was definitely thanks to thinning the paint with linseed oil. There were times when I added too much though, which I can see had an impact in how the end result looks.

The other major new thing was trying to utilize liner brushes for finer details. I didn’t have such small brushes in the first painting, but this time I had this new tool at my disposal that I deployed particularly when it came to their hair. I admit, I may have gone overboard. You can probably tell where I was learning/experimenting with my new brushes and figuring out how much solvent to use. For some reason, I also got it into my head to paint a background; my kids both love purple, so I thought that would be a good way to go. I was likely partially inspired by how easy Alpay Efe, a painter on YouTube, makes it seem.

Speaking of YouTube, I’ve also embedded a time lapse progression video above. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately depending on perspective), on most of the ten paintings I’ve done to this point, I forgot to capture anything for progression videos. I took some photos for this one and perhaps one or two others, and captured live video for the first painting and the tenth (a self portrait). But otherwise, I was just too fired up to be bothered! That level of inspiration is quite thrilling indeed – who has time for trivial things like taking photos when there’s fun stuff to paint?

This was quite a fun one, as all of these oil paintings so far have been. As with the very first painting, at times in the beginning I did feel as if this one was careening away from my control. I think it’s just the looseness of paint compared to pencil, and probably very attributable to the fact that I’m still learning and getting used to it all. I think in the end I did a solid job of wrangling in the details. I think I can learn a lot from this one – in fact, I believe I already have!


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  • Nice painting of the girls. You really captured them well. This is an amazing piece that is consistant with your style, in a totally new medium for you. Oil Paint

    • Thank you Shawn! I really appreciate it – I’m still trying to find my way in this medium, but I am definitely enjoying the learning process. It’s also nice to hear that the style has remained somewhat consistent too. I guess some habits follow you through anything, eh?

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  • Hi Jon

    It’s wonderful to hear how you got lost in painting and didn’t keep track of time spent! That’s the whole point to me, to love and enjoy doing something so much you get immersed and lose track of time. So happy to see you are making this transition and your painting progresses by leaps and bounds!

    Best wishes

    Phoebe of Wagblog

    • Thank you Phoebe, it’s quite a fun sensation isn’t it? Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy drawing a lot. But I don’t recall ever getting quite so swept up in a pencil drawing the way I seem to with painting. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but lately I’ve just wanted to just spend all day doing it. A pleasant surprise for sure!

  • Wow, what a successful transition between media, Jon. Your style still comes through with the oil paints and the girls are instantly recognisable.

    • Much appreciated Claire! I’m glad to hear that there’s something recognizable there – that was actually something I was curious about, whether it would look drastically different than the pencil drawings from a style standpoint. I mean, first I didn’t even know if I could paint something that looks like a recognizable person. But then, would I have quirks that I fall into that carry over? So many unknowns about this, and I’m very much enjoying seeing how it all falls into place!

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