During a particularly difficult healing period of my adult life, in 1993-1994 I decided I would 'take an oil painting class' just because it was time to add a specific and singularly creative outlet to my life. Well that precious little first painting came out quite nicely - mountains, trees, pathway - and had all the appearance of a first effort. Proud and untroubled, I threw myself into learning and painting, happily finding the new world of painting that so gratifies painters and artists.
The method I was being taught though was to use transfer patterns and then paint the transferred pattern, creating a finished painting. Somehow, that felt like cheating to me, and I didn't know how to draw so I was rather constrained to using the patterns in art workshop books. But that was okay, because my new efforts produced paintings that didn't much look like the ones in the workbooks. There was all the usual newbie kinds of mistakes, but there was also something in the paintings that said more than new kid making mistakes.
'A Serene Place' painting by Lietta Ruger in 1994. (Reserved to be given to granddaughter at her request when she graduates)
About the same time, I bumped into Bob Ross on PBS showing us how to paint without a template pattern. Now that is what I wanted to be able to do! And like so many others who were influenced by Bob Ross, a student of Bill Alexander, I came to believe that maybe I could paint less the transfer pattern.
Ah, but being such a novice to the world of oil painting, I did not even realize that he was using a specific technique - the wet on wet. Not recognizing that important element, I set about painting dry on dry........but using the wet on wet method. Needless to say I turned out some interesting early paintings. I was continually frustrated that I couldn't get my paintings to look much at all like the Bob Ross paintings in his workbooks. Duh......... wet on wet means wet on wet, and my only exposure thus far had been dry painting using transfer patterns.
'Deep Mountain Path' painting by Lietta Ruger in 1996
After a few years, and I had more $$ to invest in purchasing Bob Ross materials, it gradually dawned on me that he was teaching a technique and I was trying to paint without using the fundamental wet base on which to then overpaint. Once I realized and had the products, then I began to see my finished paintings taking on some resemblance of the Bob Ross paintings in the workbooks. Even so, I was an undisciplined student, and once involved in the painting, had little patience for exactly repeating the steps being shown by the instructor. I have not yet turned out a finished painting that replicates the workbook paintings. I guess that gives my paintings some originality and since I really don't know what I'm doing, I have permission to not know what I'm doing.
Mistakes abound, but I am starting to 'get it' that I don't know what I need to know, and yet have some finished paintings that people compliment - I mean complement with meaning and not just 'polite' compliments. I'm the one who doesn't take their complements seriously, and maybe it's time I started listening, eh?.