Studies in oil part 1

by Helen Barker

When I decided to come back to painting, after taking a short break to advance my day-job in design, I knew it had to be in oil. I had unfinished business. Previous paintings were exploratory but naive. This time I wanted to paint for myself, from the heart, and with the confidence I knew I harboured somewhere within.

But I didn’t know how to start.

I made the decision to do some studies, copies of other artists paintings. Like they did in the old days, you know, apprentice painters learning from the great masters.

A painting by Nicolai Fechin that I found in the pages of an old American West Painting book once had taken root in my heart. I loved it’s vibrant reds and untarnished oranges. It was a sumptuous thick soup of colour and texture and I wanted it. So I painted it. I painted her. The girl. And I finished painting her 8 hours later. I was on fire – not worrying about my subject imbued me with so much freedom, and I soaked up everything I could glean from the image and the article detailing how Fechin created it.


This is my interpretation.