Brief Painting Instruction

Dear John,
This is a brief PAINTING INSTRUCTION for your School of painting.
How to gain confidence if you want to become a painter, and it seems so difficult to you.
The first condition is to be talented, which probably is not called into question.
The progress will come spontaneously, after work, as in any other job.
However, work and progress gradually follow maturity of a person : the way of thinking in life corresponds to the way of painting on canvas. That cannot be set apart!!!
I will try not to be too mystical: as we consider some things in life more important than others, we shall pay more attention to certain details on canvas, while the others will be just marked. You do not have to be very clever to know that, as I see things.
But let us be clear: it is not a generally accepted opinion: photo realists consider almost all details equally important.
My premise is the following: when somebody is trying to explain something to you take note only of the E S S E N C E.
All other things are subordinated to that essence, or the principal idea of a painting.
Any theme is inspiring for itself.
You do not paint a nude in the same way as you do a vase with flowers.
A face is so full of anxieties, which should be studied and sorted out.
That is why it is difficult to achieve results - but nothing is difficult if you like to do it.
A future realistic painter, which probably applies to any other, should know how to draw well and should know anatomy. These are basic things that give you confidence in your future work. Feeling for colours, your love for portrait painting, nature or anything else is inherited. These inclinations to this or that themes make difference between us and classify us in this or that category. It is not possible to impose a colour or theme to a true creator - that is something we bear with us.
I had considerable problems when I wanted to switch to oil painting.
My friends tried to explain the technique to me, and I could not understand - it seemed as if they did not know how to describe it to me. 
It turned out to be the simplest thing later on.
The problem originated in the fact that I was, as many of you are, a visual type.
Everything started one day, when I visited my colleague in his studio and he got ready to
teach me how to paint. He prepared the canvas, squeezed paint to the pallet, took the brush and started to paint. He put painting medium in a shallow plate and a little bit of turpentine separately, in order to dissolve it. I personally mix turpentine with medium when painting larger surface using watercolour technique, providing the painting has already dried a bit, so that turpentine would not ruin what has already been completed.
My colleague kept explaining to me while painting, and I grasped all painting principles in a very short time.
I forgot to mention that he had placed a still life in front of him, i.e. a vase with fruit, a cloth and some bits and piece- classical still life, nothing special.
As he was very good at drawing, he took the brush right away, dipped it into the medium, dissolved a little bit of dark paint on the pallet and started to convey the composition to the canvas. Those who are not that confident in drawing, can use the pencil first, and then start with the paint ; that is quite OK.
We, the more experienced artists, do that when painting on large canvas or in case of complex composition.
I do not make drawings with very many details lately. If you have a model or a photograph in front of you, the impression that you are close to an end comes when you are looking at the canvas and the model or a photograph alternatively, and have a feeling of a absolute contact between the two.
Confidence in drawing and painting is gained gradually. I recall my first drawings, when I hated to use an eraser, and if I did, it came it very hard on me. I thought I could do it, and that I was a great artist- complete rubbish.
I have been in a stage for a long time, when I appreciate ultimate result as the most important, and I would not hesitate to use not only an eraser, but a broom if needed, in order to achieve what I intend to.
The same approach applies to oil , you should not insist on producing a perfect drawing before the painting. It depends on the artist, of course.
A good painting for me is the one that reflects your striving for the result.
That painting looks powerful and exciting.
I do not even like to achieve easy and hasty results. After gaining confidence, your brush becomes your second hand. If something goes wrong, and it happens from time to time, no matter the nervousness, it should be taken as an act of creation, and not as a tragedy.
If it happens to me to spoil something on the canvas, and I have nerves to go on, I make a little break, and continue after that. Very often I manage to amend it.
It is even  better to sleep on it and go on tomorrow, when you feel fresh. As the painting has already dried a bit, in case I had made it too bright by putting dissolved dark colour, I use to cover the whole painting with a layer, using watercolour technique, or cover just the spoiled section. The curiosity drives you to go on, from the beginning to the very end.
As a realistic painter I envy the old masters because they had perfect work conditions. The top masters of the old painting periods will always be better than the best contemporary painters. The reason is simple: as the pace of life was much slower than it is today, the people did not find it difficult to pose to artists, and that produced results, much more convincing than the results we have today.
John, that is all from me for now.

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