Artwork by Matthew Gage

Yep, that’s me.

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I have always admired painters and painting. In the midst of the Pandemic, I followed the example of so many other people and gave it a try. It’s been a great journey of learning and discovery.

You can follow along on my painting journey on my Facebook page: Pastor – Painter – Piano Player.

I think I have come a long way. My first attempt at oil painting using a kit bought at Hobby Lobby was not exactly a masterpiece. But it was fun!

Painting for a lesson at our 2022 VBS

Painting #1
August 31, 2020
Painting #24
November 19, 2020
Painting #30
January 15, 2021
Painting #44
From Kevin Hill Video
June 14, 2021
Painting #52
August 26, 2021
Painting #53
One Year Anniversary of Painting
August 31, 2021
Painting #55
September 11, 2021
Painting #61
November 25, 2021
Painting #67
May 2, 2022
Painting #69
June 13, 2022
Painting #71
July 4, 2022

Tips and Recommendations

  • There are fantastic and supportive online communities out there and a beginning artist should plug into them. Tips, inspiration, etc. are just a few clicks away.
  • You don’t need top-of-the-line paints or brushes starting out, but I would avoid the cheapest options. I’ve had good results with Hobby Lobby’s Master’s Touch brand brushes, but not their paints (way too thin and oily for me).
  • Avoid getting attached to just one technique or style. As much as I adore Bob Ross as a inspiration, much of that company’s supplies (with the exception of the brushes) are designed to paint his trademark “wet-on-wet” style. I’d stay a bit more general purpose in the start and see what you enjoy doing.
  • Be aware that many oil painting supplies are classified as hazardous materials. Examples are thinners, solvents, and some pigments. That includes Gamsol. Right now I am trying to avoid these by using the solvent-free line of products by Gamblin and using oils to clean brushes instead of thinner.
  • Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, Joann’s, and even Walmart are great places to pick up something you need, but the prices and selection are generally much better online at places like Jerry’s Artarama or Dick Blick.
  • Do give acrylics a try.
  • If you have a kid that wants to paint too, let them use acrylics instead of oils. The dry time on oils far exceeds their attention span and it will blend into a mess.
  • There is a wealth of tutorials online for almost any type or painting. Look up whatever you need help with on YouTube and I guarantee there’s a video of someone painting it.
  • Don’t get frustrated. You won’t be Bob Ross or Van Gogh after 15 minutes. It’s a great feeling to look back and see how much you’ve progressed.
  • Enjoy the process and not just the finished product.
  • Don’t expect to sell many or even any paintings early on. My experience is that many early ones end up in the trash or painted over as you learn lessons with each one. When someone says they want one, give it to them with out charging. Share the joy. Then eventually see if you can sell them. Hopefully you can start at least covering the cost of materials before long.
  • Do buy a sturdy easel. The cheap $15 metal ones can work for display but they are difficult to paint on.
  • Disposable “canvas pads” are awesome. No cleanup needed!
  • Do not neglect to clean and maintain your brushes.
  • If you are trying Bob Ross’s technique, you will be shocked how little liquid white or liquid clear you actually need to put on the canvas. It’s a fraction of whatever you think.
  • I wouldn’t invest in large 2” brushes like Bob Ross if you are not wanting to paint exactly like him. They can be difficult to clean and honestly you need to be using a canvas bigger than my usual 16”x20” to get their benefits. I think you’ll find 1” brushes are sufficient in most cases unless the canvas is large.
  • Blue shop towels are great to use (thanks Kevin Hill!) and I really like the SoHo Studio Wipes from Jerry’s Artarama.
  • Do wear an apron or old clothes. I wish I had bought an apron much earlier on.
  • Do buy and use gesso, even on cheaper canvases that already have it applied. An extra layer or two makes a difference if you’ll take the time.
  • Do share your progress with others. I wouldn’t start a YouTube channel or storefront for a while, but sharing what you are doing in social media is both encouraging to you and those that watch your progress.
  • I personally like listening to an audio book or a baseball game while I paint.
  • Do try to paint from a picture, another painting, or a combination thereof. Your results will be much better than winging it with your imagination. I find it helps to sketch the layout on the canvas in pencil to help guide the process
  • But also don’t feel like it has to be an exact copy of anything. Put your own stamp on it. Add some trees or animals. Change some of the colors up. I enjoy inserting bluebonnets be other wildflowers even when they aren’t in my reference.
  • Take your time. You won’t be able to keep up with any YouTubers or Bob Ross. They are practiced and usually not painting something for the first time in their videos. Don’t feel rushed, just hit pause when you need to.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Have trouble with rocks or clouds? Practice them! Also find a YouTube tutorial for some help.
  • Have fun. If you can’t relax and enjoy painting, find another hobby and save yourself a lot of frustration.