My first oil painting at age 14 - "Crap no.1" - 6x8"

Thought you might like to see this and be encouraged - I often wonder how great artist's first paintings looked. I'm not saying I'm a great artist, but I can certainly see the improvement that practice has made. This painting was made from copying an old black and white photograph from a magazine. I remember struggling with it at the time - 21 years ago. I also remember the mistaken impression I had that using these new oil paints would surely make painting easier, and how disappointed I was with the result - hence the derogatory title I gave it.

No, oils don't make it easy to paint. They do make it easy to scrape off or paint over your mistakes, but they don't help you paint it any better the second time - only practice and study will do that. So there you are, I'm not ashamed to show you my first oil painting - it's a stepping stone, and that's how I encourage you to see your own paintings - little stepping stones to something better.

Here's a more recent painting...

Enjoy your steps - each one is precious.

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Comment by Randy Fanger on January 7, 2011 at 14:41
I just ran across this tonight.  I gotta say, I was very happy to see this.  I wrote a blog that touched on it, and was thinking of putting my first painting up.  Now I have to find it if I can.  Thank you for the sense of humility.
Comment by Dennis Clark on December 29, 2009 at 22:14
My comments go for the serious as well as the occasional hobby painter. I was a hobby painter for many years until I became more serious. The whole idea of a hobby is the FUN part of it, the stress relieving, the getting away from the humdrum of life and immersing oneself in whatever the chosen hobby. I always believe that whatever one does should be the best of ones ability irrespective of the quality of the work.
Years ago I exhibited regularly at a monthly outdoor exhibition in Pretoria, South Africa, and one day a man started putting out his paintings for sale. I still commented to my neighbour about the poor quality of the work and the "Preschool" type of drawing. God taught us a lesson that day. It is all about not judging others. That man sold most of his paintings whereas we both did not sell a single one.
Every artist, whether a rank beginner or a professional, a fine art artist or an abstract artist, a highly technical or a childish piece of work, an every day artist or a once a month artist - all have a special place and room in the Mansion of Art.
My biggest job satisfaction is when I get to bring out the "artist" in people who initially had the idea that they were hopeless cases and thought that they could never be taught, and many of them have become fantastic artists in their own rights! To all artists - never let anyone discourage you.
Comment by Richard Robinson on December 29, 2009 at 20:07
Thanks for the great comment Dennis - couldn't agree with you more. A big problem a lot of people talk about is 'finding the time' to paint. It's easy for us professional artists to say 'oh, well, you just practice practice practice and you'll get there in the end', but as a full time artists we've got all the time in the world to practice, which means quick improvements compared to a Sunday painter who only picks up the brushes every couple of weeks or so. I know of some people who do manage to live a double life quite well and hold down a full time job while painting at night or in the gaps. Those are people very passionate about painting though, not just dabblers. I was like that when I was working in web design for an employer - every spare moment I had I was painting, and usually counting the hours at work till I could get home to paint. Everyone has a different degree of passion or drive so as always it comes down to personal choices I guess, and the question, "how much do you want to change what you are doing right now?" Then again, if someone is content to be a Sunday painter and that's all they need then that's great - they're enjoying the steps finding fulfillment in it and that's what it's all about in the end. As a teacher like you Dennis I have to keep reminding myself of that - not everyone is going to be a Monet and that's ok, it's the journey and the magic of discovery that's the important thing.

Anyone in Auckland NZ looking for a good tutor should pay Dennis a visit:
Comment by Dennis Clark on December 29, 2009 at 17:35
I am glad you had the courage to show this first painting of yours. Most people tell me that I was born with the talent and that they not. Nothing can be further from the truth. It took me many years of hard slog to get where I am now. I started during the war years when there were no books available as compared to the many thousands in the shops today. I did not know of any art teachers except the odd ones teaching at schools, and then very elementary. I have learned to paint very fast because I painted in acrylics before going over to oils.
One of the question I hate answering is, "How long did it take you to paint that painting?" When I do answer I always, to the surprised look on the inquirer's face, say the following, "3 or 4 hours and 60 years!"
I always grin when my students complaint about the quality of their 1st painting [which by the way is normally very good - enough to hang in the sitting room without shame]. It took me approx 40 years of frustration to get the same quality as theirs today! I had to struggle on my own without any help.
I came across this the other day:
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it!"
To those still struggling I say this, Do you best - believe in yourself - never give up - look for a good mentor (like Richard) - and practice, practice, practice! My favourite saying? Go slow now, for speed later!


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