Sunday, March 20, 2016

How to oil paint -- History of Art Technique

John Singer Sargent     Carnation Lily Lily Rose

The state of art today

Never before has there been such a range of materials from which an artist can choose. The modern painter is freer to choose what to paint than ever before, and creativity and originality is seen as the hallmark of genius in the painting world. However, there is a downside too, in that in the modern art world, the majority of artists painting today have little true knowledge of the skill and training passed down through generations by the painters of the 15th - 17th century, the old masters. The skills have been lost to the majority of artists, although fortunately not lost to all, and even though they have tried to be rediscovered, they are not taught widely and many successful artists are ignorant of how to paint with strong technical skill .
 
On the positive side, the move away from the old styles of painting (since 1700 onwards) have encouraged the discover of whole new ways of painting and many beautiful paintings and styles have emerged. This has brought a whole new appreciation of art in our society. So even a beginner artist can create a piece which will be well appreciated and contribute to the artistic world in their own style.
 
As I discover more about oil painting and reading about the old techniques, I realise I too have a very basic understanding of their techniques, and so I am on a journey to discover for myself what I lack in ability.

One thing I have discovered, is that many of the paintings from before 1700, are painted so technically well, that they are withstanding the ravages of time better than paintings that modern artists are creating, and that they could well outlast most of the paintings being created today. Will Jackson Pollocks paintings still be around in centuries to come on the wall beside an ageless Carravaggio or Van Eyck's The Marriage of Giovanni Arnolfini (1434, now 582 years old)? I sincerely doubt it. And so I believe it is important to try our best to understand our painting materials, more and more, in order to create our best work and ensure it has some durability too.

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