Ethan semmel making rabbit skin glue

Making rabbit skin glue for canvas

Rabbit skin glue is the traditional glue – better known as sizing – that is applied to canvas before the base coat of paint is laid over it.

Most people like to start something at step 1. I have taken to calling this step 0 because it’s usually forgotten, but if were painting during the old master days it would have been standard practice.

Also, note something important – it’s not hard to do.

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Why your oil painting curriculum doesn’t exist

This article is for those of you looking for an oil painting curriculum that you can follow and learn from.

First, let me just tell you that – on the day I am writing this – the night before I attended a school function for my oldest son that is called curriculum night. This is where the parents visit the school and get to talk to all the teachers your child has throughout the school week. First you see the specialists, which are teachers your child might not see every day. Then you are taken up to your child’s classroom for the main presentation by your child’s main teachers. The ones who they spend most of their day with. Every day.

teaching oil paintingDuring this presentation, you learn all about your child’s curriculum. The teachers went over how they will be teaching reading, writing, math, etc.

As I was sitting there, something very interesting popped into my head.

In all my years having oil painting lessons,only once was a curriculum followed.

For my art history lessons, yes. That always had a curriculum, but for the oil painting lessons, only one time.

This was a class that met once a week at once and covered your materials. We were given the curriculum on the first day of class. It was all scheduled in advance. We would be grinding our own paints, combining pigment and oil and sometimes other ingredients. Some weeks, our lesson for the day was just that one thing.

For example, today we will grind burnt umber. We got to know that paint inside and out. How much oil it takes to turn the pigment into a useable paint…If it needed another ingredient with the oil…how to put it in a tube to be able to use it later on, etc.

So, why doesn’t your oil painting class have a curriculum and why is it usually an acceptable thing to not have a class with a curriculum.

Well, I have 2 main theories on this.

The first is, nowadays, art is thought of as totally a creative process that is very individualistic. Many things are called art now so teachers are very careful to not squash a persons individuality or creative impulse.

In other words, the craft part is thought to be not too important. It’s the concept that’s most important.

My reaction to that, bullshit.

First learn your craft. It won’t kill your individuality or style. Oil painting is still done by hand with materials, meaning it is still a craft. Before you can fully express yourself, you have to learn your craft.

Second – and probably the most overlooked part of the whole kit and kaboodle.

Remember, how I told you about my visit to curriculum night? How a 45 minute presentation was given by my kids’ teachers. These 2 ladies went to school to study education. They were instructed how to teach.

If you have art lessons, ask yourself this. Has your teacher been instructed how to teach? Or are they an oil painting teacher because they are a pretty good oil painter?

To teach in noted art schools such as the national academy of design or the art students league, they do not require a degree in teaching. Last I checked they didn’t require a degree in anything actually.

To teach painting in a university – again, last I checked – you had to have a masters – but, not in teaching!

Teaching is a learned skill as well.

These, I think, are the reasons your oil painting curriculum doesn’t exist. That’s why most of the time, an oil painting class is a bunch of people “winging it” with the teacher doing the “what you’re doing wrong” way of teaching.

Did you start your free lesson plan from my oil painting with ethan program yet? There should be a box on the side of this page where you can start the process of getting your free oil painting lesson plan.

“difference in my paintings since I started watching and listening to you”

Sometimes you have to heard it from an impartial source:

Like Pat who appears to the right

Hi Ethan!  I have been interested since I saw the first e-mail on my computer!  I’ve been taking lessons from a friend of mine for a long time, but I have learned new things since I started watching your e-mails.

I had always painted on white canvas and now I am using your acrylic backgrounds and can tell a lot of difference in the tones I get.

I like the way you do portraits , and I think that is the one that made me try your course.  I am still taking lessons and will probably start helping my teacher with the new things I’m learning from you.  I had her use the naples yellow pale for highlights on the last painting she did, and she loved it!!!  I can tell a difference in my paintings since I started watching and listening to you, so thank you in advance!!  You never get too old to learn, and I’m more than willing to absorb anything I can get my hands on about painting.  I’m looking forward to the new experience!

Pat M

oil painting canvas preparation – canvas for painting

This video goes into a background on canvas for oil painting.

oil painting canvas preparation is not talked about much these days. Oil painting classes rarely talk about it because of the convenience of pre-stretched canvases that are in art stores.

Most of those canvases are, frankly, terrible. They are causing you added frustration because of how they are prepared, but most oil painting students do not even think about the canvas as a “big deal”

This is a huge mistake

Check out this video where I give a quick background lesson about canvas.

Here’s to better oil painting.

Recommended Study

If you’d like to get a full course that will cover not only your canvas and all your materials, but a step by step formula to paint like the old masters, go check out the 7 Part Video series – Oil Painting Formula