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Oil painting — My earliest, oiliest expeditions

With a big oil painting project coming up, I had a look through my previous oil artworks. It was helpful to see my earliest attempts to see what I botched, and spark some memories for what I found difficult at the time.

Oil paint is quite the nemesis. It looks great, distinctive, classic. Working with it is familiarly malodorous, the turps are acrid and toxic, and the paint takes days to dry, devil’s advocate for deadlines.

My first oil painting was of my girlfriend, Claire, at her parents’ house. Claire’s mum had oils and an easel, and so I bought a canvas.

Here it is:

From memory, I did it in one or maybe two standings. I remember that it was difficult, but the slow-drying paint made it easier. It was a pleasant surprise to note that you could pop some burnt umber or vermilion onto stark white, and before you know it, you’ve got skin tone, though I obviously gave up the painting once I was happy with Claire’s face.

The dress, arms, and garish greenery in the background were an afterthought.

The next oil I attempted was at the peak of my Nintendo hysteria. I wanted to capture a night-time scene of Super Mario Bros.: Lost Levels (SMB 2 in Japan). The stage was parlous: leap-altering winds, carnivorous plants, lethal flying fish, and fist-clenched bullets launched from cannons. For my painting I decided to omit the giant, pissed-off bullets.The situation seems pretty dire for the ol’ plumber:

Mario still from lost levels.jpg

Though it’s a rough and hopeless night for Mario, the night’s sky is still lovely with rainbow-coloured stars in the distance. Mario is sitting in contemplation of his place in the Mushroom Kingdom. His classic cap has just been whisked off by the angry winds. Here he’s watching the leaping cheep cheeps, nonchalant next to a gnashing piranha plant.

That’s it for my oiliest escapades.

For the latest project, I finally discarded my Chinese 12 paints for 7 bucks set for an adult’s set, setting me back a few hundred. Here we come, adult painting.