The Committed Hobbyist—A Twist on the Traditional Venetian Technique

Sometimes my friends come over to my house and try their hand at oil painting. I know how to guide them through setting up a palette, provide them materials to paint, and help them choose a reference to work from. What I haven’t yet discovered is the “correct” amount of information to share with them. Do they want to hear about the three waves of pigment (the natural pigments, the industrial pigments, and the dye-based pigments)? These waves influence choices of color mixing and help balance intensity when new painters are starting out. Do they need the explanation of how this influences the way I recommend setting up a palette? Do they want to hear the names of the colors and see different ways of mixing them? Is it too much new information all at once? Is a hands-off approach better? Do they just need an open space to branch out and try something new?

My friend pretending to help me with a painting

I’m not sure if my friends are interested in this level of detail when I’m throwing so many new things at them. Sometimes I decide to just give them the space to play until they ask for help. Even though it might be too much to process for my friends in such a short time, I think that the average bored retiree–or anyone who is willing to take the time and put forth the financial investment–would definitely be interested.

A friend working on a painting of sunflowers with a venetian palette

For my third experiment I am constructing a how to paint piece called The Committed Hobbyist—A Twist on the Traditional Venetian Technique. I plan to guide readers through the historical relevance of waves of pigment, the importance of lighting and the factors important in establishing a good space, and finally the steps of setting up a pallet and painting.

As my audience is primarily older folk with time and money to spend, I will make this tutorial accessible to them in a paper manual format as well as a digital PDF format. It will be connected to a youtube channel with a few guiding videos.

Photo of Painter’s Palette Source:

In my research in how to organize a how-to tutorial, I learned that a good tutorial should be practical and specific. Avoiding walls of text is an essential aspect of a good tutorial and—if applicable—the tutorial should also include pictures. I think most good tutorials are “skimmable”—they provide a ton of information, but highlight what you really need to know if you are just trying to get the gist of what to do. The formatting should be varied to stress the key points and to allow the interested reader to dive into the piece if they so choose. I will try to organize my “how to” in a visual, easy-to-read manner that conveys information about every step of the painting process from deciding to try painting, to what paint to buy, to finishing the last brushstrokes. Additionally, I plan to make a few brief video accompaniments of things that need to be explained in movement instead of the typed word or photo. However, this will not be a “do what i’m doing,” kind of tutorial–it will instead try to give the viewer the tools and initiative to try something themselves.

A few key points to remember in writing a how-to tutorial:

  • Start with the importance of the skill that the tutorial is teaching–establish why your reader needs to keep reading and ensure that your reader is in your intended audience by giving them a quick summary
  • Consider discussing historical relevance and background information
  • Dive into your first steps, and integrate them with photos! What should the reader DO? How should this change the way they are currently acting?
  • Continue to list out the step-by-step approach while adding in photos and explaining the importance of each step
  • Finish up with a few further sources if the reader wants more information on the topic
  • Verbally support your reader to follow through and do it!

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