Oil Painting Essentials

Mastering Portraits, Figures, Still Lifes, Landscapes, and Interiors

About the Book

An essential guide to the oil painting techniques that will allow artists to master a variety of subjects, including figures, portraits, still life, landscapes, and interiors.

Many painters limit themselves to one type of subject matter, but in Oil Painting Essentials, artist and art instructor Gregg Kreutz shows how a multi-genre approach can dramatically improve your painting skills. Arranged by category, each chapter covers both the essentials specific to that subject matter and those that apply to all genres.  

Through step-by-step lessons and examples from his own oil paintings, Kreutz shows how you can strengthen your skillset for one genre by painting in another. This comprehensive exploration of the conceptual and practical issues behind oil painting provides all of the tools and encouragement you need to successfully take on any type of oil painting.
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Praise for Oil Painting Essentials

“Gregg Kreutz encourages learning to see with clarity and insight,and that’s exactly what this book achieves. I’m an art observer,not an artist, but even I can follow—and admire—Kreutz’s logical,step-by-step approach to making paintings look better.”
—PETER TRIPPI, editor-in-chief, Fine Art Connoisseur magazine

“In Oil Painting Essentials, Gregg Kreutz expands on the teachingsand ideas that he brought forth first in Problem Solving for OilPainters. This new book is rich and colorful with Gregg’s paintings,showing examples of what to strive for and what to avoid whenlearning to paint. The writing is wonderfully clear, providing manyinsights for solving the essential problems art students confront.”
—DAVID A LEFFEL, artist and teacher
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Oil Painting Essentials


Every oil painter knows the feeling: You’re standing in front of the easel studying your painting, and while nothing seems particularly wrong with it, there’s nothing particularly right about it either. The picture sits there, staring back at you, obviously in need of help, but sending no clear signal as to what kind of help. 
In my experience, when that happens, when unknown forces have dragged the picture down to the murky depths and are blocking all attempts at resuscitation, it’s time to hit the big issues, time to strip away superficiality and go after the essentials. 

But which essentials? As you will see in the following pages, there are many oil painting essentials that are important, but they can’t all be summoned up and thrown at the suffering painting. When you run up against a serious artistic impasse like the one described above what you need are—prime essentials

And luckily, after forty years of intensive research, I’ve figured out exactly what these prime essentials are: 
- Accuracy: Make sure you accurately depict the subject. 
- Design: Arrange the material in a dynamic pattern. 
- Depth: Make sure the near/far feeling of space is convincing. 
- Drama: Intensify the visual energy. 

Each of these prime essentials is important, and each needs to be given full attention by the oil painter. 
What often happens, though, is that one or more of them is neglected, and the picture doesn’t reach its full potential. For example, if you put all your energy into accuracy but neglect design, depth, and drama, the painting becomes just an inventory of what’s seen. Or if you emphasize design at the expense of depth, accuracy, and drama, you get a picture with a flat, decorative, cutout look. If the picture is to succeed, each prime essential needs to be fully manifested on the canvas. 

The painting, in other words, has to run on all four cylinders. Neglect any of them and you’ll end up with a lopsided, incomplete picture. 

Not that getting each prime essential right is easy—some artists may have no problem with drama, say, but may flounder on accuracy. Others might do brilliantly with accuracy, but fail to design the picture. So how do you master all four?

About the Author

Gregg Kreutz
Gregg Kreutz has won numerous honors as a student and professional painter. His paintings have been represented in many juried shows. Gregg is represented by the Fanny Garver Gallery as many others, including the Grand Central Galleries, New York, O'Brien's Art Emporium, and the Dirk Walker Gallery in Brimingham, Alabama. He teaches painting at Scottsdale (Arizona) Artists School, the Fechin Institute (New Mexico), and at the Art Students League in New York City where he lives. More by Gregg Kreutz
Decorative Carat