So I’m excited to have another try with my oil paints and this week I’m  planning to choose an episode of ‘The Joy of Painting’ to give me more guidance in some of the weaker areas of my first attempt. However, before I can start aiming for improvement I need to first identify where my technique is weakest.

Firstly I have to say that painting in this wet-on-wet technique is considerably harder than I thought it would be. It’s also harder than expected to imagine a whole world of landscape. I usually work in the realm of imagination so I didn’t feel too daunted by this but facing a blank canvas with no real plan was definitely a challenge when exploring landscape. It did bring its own aspects of fun however as I had no idea I was going to put a stream in the painting until I got near the bottom of the canvas and inspiration hit. I think where I need more of a plan is in the mid ground. Background and foreground feel the most simple to develop a basic plan.

Regarding the individual tools and techniques in Bob Ross’ style, I have to say I struggled most with use of the palette knife. This is the tool which is most foreign to me and I have absolutely no experience with using one. My work usually has a very smooth finish with virtually no discernible texture. The idea of allowing the paint to go on thickly and unevenly still feels quite uncomfortable.

The other struggle I had was toward the end of the painting where I wanted to add more definition in little bushes and plants in the foreground. I found it very difficult to get the variety of shapes and colours that Bob Ross creates. On reflection I think perhaps I should have thinned the paint slightly to make it stick to the thick paint already applied in these areas. I felt that by the end of the painting I had lost a lot of the tonal contrast and the foreground was not cooperating. In the end I put this down to experience but couldn’t resist adding the little white wisps before calling it finished. I just wanted to put a little bit of more of myself into this; after all my aim here is to learn the technique, not to start copying Bob Ross paintings.

The last of the problems I encountered did not become truly apparent until the day after. I had applied the liquid clear undercoat much too thickly. I have a few areas where the paint had run a little after I’d finished to working on the canvas. Upon reflection I can see now where it hampered me during the painting. I had originally wanted to create a sky that was slightly less blended and still had shapes and suggestions of clouds. The canvas was too slick for the technique I was trying and so I blended the sky more to compensate. Next time I try this technique for the sky I will also put less white on my brush as I think this will also help to restrict how much the shapes blend together.

All in all I feel very encouraged by this first attempt and can’t wait to have another try. I will be trying to follow an actual Bob Ross tutorial (more or less) and will also be trying to push myself to explore the palette knife and that’s where I’m most uncomfortable.

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