I did a bit of painting, long ago, as an art student. I never got around to working in oils, though. D and the kids remedied that lacuna in 2005, when for Father's Day they signed me up for an oil painting class. I took the class later that summer, completing one painting (which I later pitched) and nearly finishing the work below, "Aloe Study v. 2007.03.29."
Here's the full painting:
Here's a detail:
Why did it take me a year and a half to complete the painting? For a long while, I was content to leave it sitting on an easel in our reading room, squinting at it from time to time and telling anyone who would listen why I remained dissatisfied. Finally, last month, sorely needing a break from my paying gig, I added a few final touches and signed off on the painting.
Properly speaking, I didn't so much finish "Aloe Study v. 2007.03.29" as I gave up. Oils allow you extraordinary leeway to work, rework, and (alas) overwork a painting. That constitutes both the virtue of the medium and its peril. Painting in oils has thus forced me to learn not just how to mix the stuff and apply it to canvas, but also to calculate when the marginal costs of an additional brushstroke outweigh its marginal aesthetic benefits. I can't say that I got it right this last time around, but I don't think I completely botched it, and I enjoyed the exercise.