Oils – A Whole New Beeswax!

Today’s project; OILS!
I haven’t painted in oils in about a decade!
During my gallery show at Fernwood Botanical Garden last year, the curator Kathee Kiesselbach told me I should work in oils.
I thought it was a good suggestion. It took me a while to get around to it, but I did pick up some paints finally.
So, this was interesting and challenging. It turns out they take forever to dry. I started this bee yesterday, and the paint from yesterday is still wet. I am starting to understand why so many artists who use oils just let it flow and don’t try to do tight representations. The paint blends beautifully, but contrast is difficult due to cross-contamination. If I wanted to work on it for about a week, I would probably have more vibrant colors. I think some oil artists keep several paintings going at once. That makes a great deal of sense to me.
I liked the blending aspect very much. And the smell… Ahhh…  The scent takes me right back to when Mom used them when I was a kid. Mom did great landscapes in oils; just poetic, especially her trees and clouds. She did one painting of the head of Stony Crick on Drummond Island in winter, making the water so dark it was almost black. Some person from downstate (I can’t remember who) made the mistake of telling Mom, “Water is never that color.”
Come to think of it, I believe the guy was an artist in from out of town and she had been taking a workshop with him.

Anyway, we all laughed hysterically when she came home and told us he had said this. Mom was working from a Polaroid taken from a snowmobile trip and the water from Stony Crick is pooling up, edged in hard ice, and is indeed nearly black.

I never understood why she gave up on oils. She did go back to painting and took up watercolors later in her life, but they never had the same kind of depth her oils did. In retrospect, I hope that artist guy didn’t discourage her. I was too young to understand then how hurtful words like that can be.

It’s probably for this reason that the thought of working in oils so appealed to me.
Also, the painting itself, and its expression, conjures up thoughts of the Plight of the Bumble Bee. (It used to be called, “Flight of the Bumble Bee”, right?) Another childhood memory: lying on my back on the grass in our orchard, looking far up at the canopy of white apple blossoms, and the clustering of bees up there, moving around, knocking petals down, hearing the constant deep hum of their wings, and inhaling the intoxicating sweetness of the flowers as the petals fell.
Would that I could see bumble bees in flocks of thousands today.
This painting is from a photo by Aimee/John Photography. Special thanks to them and to Artist Reference Photos for supporting the arts.

About Nancy J. Bailey

Artist, author, bad karaoke singer. Woodsy ragamuffin. Mom of a horse named Clifford who plays fetch and paints with watercolors. He visits libraries and schools with me, to promote literacy and making the world a better place. Yes, he is house trained, no, he doesn't live in my house! I have written three books about Clifford. But my newest book, THE NORTH SIDE OF DOWN, is co-written by my awesome sister Amanda, who has Down syndrome. Her unexpected one-liner wisecracks can always make me laugh. If you make me laugh, you've made my day!
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