#indexcardartproject completed & what’s next…

by | May 14, 2019 | Art, Artistic Endeavors, Oil Painting | 35 comments

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Well, I finally finished the #indexcardartproject!  It’s about a month late, but that’s okay.  It really didn’t need to be completed in a set time and I found I didn’t want to rush through it.  I was enjoying these little studies and I didn’t want to miss the lessons along the way, simply because I was hurrying.

One reason it’s taken me so long is that I’ve already been using these studies as inspiration for larger paintings, which was the whole idea in the first place.

I really enjoyed the freedom I felt from painting on a “disposable” surface.  I was looser with my brushstrokes and more experimental with my colors.  I learned a lot about composition, value, and the magic of impressionist-style painting.  Seemingly random strokes look like a scene when you take a step back.

For the last one, I did a study of a James Kroner painting. I love his architectural paintings but have been intimidated to try any kind of architecture beyond a simple barn.  I took on this bridge and was pleasantly surprised with how it actually looks like a bridge!  I’m excited to take what I learned in this little painting and paint a few pictures I took while in Paris and Tuscany last fall.

I enjoyed painting on these index cards so much that I decided to continue the same idea with a binder of thick cardstock paper to paint studies on.  This idea is a variation on one shared by my “art supply muse”, Michelle Wooderson.  She got the idea of binding her own oil painting sketchbooks from Scott Christensen.

I didn’t want to fuss with cutting and binding my own books, so I bought a nice leather binder and filled it with 80lb kraft paper sheets.

It works perfectly!  I have enough room for two small paintings on each page along with notes in the margins for color mixes, compositions, etc.  I also like that I can remove the page until it dries, but still use the notebook.  It’ll become a nice reference for larger paintings as well as a visual reminder of my progress.

The binder is a little unusual in that it has a soft, floppy cover, but I like that.  It feels more like a portfolio with rings.

Jeff picked it up off of my drafting table, inspected it, and said, “This is weird.  I don’t think I like it.”

“Well, good.  Because I didn’t buy it for you.  I bought it for me and if you loved it and wanted to use it, we would have a problem.”

There is a tie closure, which emphasizes the “art portfolio” feel.

So, filling this will be my next little project.  It’s going to take about 100 small paintings to fill it up, though!  Aside from that, I do need to come up with a new challenge.  For now, I’m bouncing around between landscapes, still life, and I’m dipping back into portraits again.  I want to work on what’s inspiring and what helps me develop the skills I want to improve the most.

Speaking of oil painting, I’ve been asked by several people interested in oil painting, mostly on Instagram, If I would share some tips on getting started.

When I first started oil painting, I struggled to find answers to very basic questions.  It seemed like most experienced painters assumed people knew how to clean a brush or care for a palette or store unused paint, use solvents, or why you should tone a canvas.  I found the plethora of information (most of it went over my head) to be more overwhelming and confusing than helpful.  I learned by doing, by trial and error, by asking other new artists if they’ve found the answer to that basic question, and by collecting answers scattered over dozens of books and online classes.

  So, I’ve decided to share what I’ve learned and I’m going to put a course together for the very beginner, aspiring oil painter.  I’m basically answering all of the questions I had and, hopefully, answering them in a clear and concise way, so it’s easy and approachable for anyone who is interested in giving it a try.  I’ll be working on it over the next few weeks and hope to have it ready this summer.

Just tuck that in the back of your mind if you’ve been following my journey and you’re interested in starting oil painting yourself.

In the meantime, if you want to see the art supplies I use, the courses and books that have been my favorite, I’ve been working on building out an Art Resource page HERE.  It’s not completely finished, but it’s filled with my favorite art books, supplies, and classes to help you on your journey.

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  1. Cathleen

    I am very interested in your upcoming beginner painting course! Thank you. Looking forward to it!

  2. Louise

    Please write a book too. As if you need another project! Online tutorials are wonderful but I’m old fashioned, I seen to learn better from books, as strange as that sounds.

  3. Terry A.

    I am very excited to hear about that beginning class! Looking forward to it! Thank you for doing that!

  4. Ann

    I love this. I really like the looseness of you brush work. I’ve been wanting to start attempting oils again. So, YES, I am very interested in your painting class!!!

  5. Renea Mcafee

    I follow a Ky artist Ken Swinson on IG. He is doing plein air painting posts almost daily. He was primarily a folk artist but I have loved the new direction his daily plein air painting chalkenge has brought about in his work. Check him out.

    • Rita

      Thanks for the source. That’s my neck if the woods.

  6. kathy stablein

    Marian I absolutely love everything you do! I especially love these little cards! I wish you sold them as little prints! I would hang them just as you have done (I have just the spot!) Just sayin’!

  7. Tori

    Oh yes! Thank you for considering the “oil painting class”. I have scoured the internet trying to find basic information and it is either so long and boring it won’t hold my attention or it ends up completely skimming over the “step one…” information I truly want to know. I’ve watched nearly every tutorial you’ve ever written/video taped so I know it will be exactly what I need.

  8. Kim

    So pretty, and so inspirational! I usually do a “test” painting of my ideas so I can see if it will look good before I might waste a canvas.

  9. Lyndsey

    I know it may sound crazy, but the index card project is my FAVORITE thing you’ve ever done!! ❤️❤️❤️

  10. Mary Lou

    I would enjoy the painting class as well.

    I’m concerned that the paint will eventually rub off your cards just from the fact your pages will touch each other. mL

  11. Jamie

    Oh I can’t wait for your painting course. I’ve recently been doing watercolor but would love to learn about oil.

    Also, I love your comeback to your husband. Lol. Sounds like something I would say also with unsolicited advice.

  12. Jane

    I,too, am interested in your course! A few years ago, I took a painting class and we used acrylics. Would love to dabble in oils.

    • Marian Parsons

      Oh, awesome! Well, this course will be perfect for those who want to dabble.

  13. Hannah

    You are just so talented—I love all of your landscapes, portraits and still lifes! Your display of index cards all neatly strung up look so lovely together.

  14. Linda B Moore

    So interested in your beginner class, looking forward to more info. You are an inspiration as I am retired and drifting and would love to get back into painting!

    • Marian Parsons

      Oh, I’m glad to hear that!

  15. Maggie Blackwell

    Yay! I’m one of “those people” who asked for it and I’m thrilled you took us up on the idea! I can’t begin to say how I look forward to the class.

    • Marian Parsons

      Oh, I’m so glad! I’m already enjoying making it and I wish I had all of this information in one place when I first started!

  16. Janette

    One of my friends dated Scott Christianson for about two years, but they broke up last fall. I knew he was talented but had no idea how much he has painted until I went to your link to his instagram page.

  17. Kathie

    I’d be really interested in doing an oil painting course with you too. I’m soo excited that you’re doing that. I keep going to buy oil paints but I don’t know what to get or where to start. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! I’m so excited. Roll on summer.

    • Marian Parsons

      Oh, fantastic! This will be for you, then!

  18. Kathie

    The oil painting course- such heaven sent news!!!! I’m really hoping and praying that it will be an on-line course? ???

    • Marian Parsons

      Yes! It will be online!

  19. Celeste

    I’ve been painting on canvas for about nine years but I always feel it is so costly to just experiment on canvas. I would really love to loosen up my painting and feel freer to fail/experiment in the learning process. I really love the idea of the binder but I have a few questions. Did you gesso and tone the painting area? How does the kraft paper hold up/handle the prep and paint? Can you store the dry paintings stacked on top of each other without damage to the painting in the binder? And are you working from inspiration photos or are they from imagination? So many questions but inspired to try something similar.

    • Marian Parsons

      I am new to the “oil painting sketchbook” idea, but I’ll share what I’ve learned from others. The paper is heavy enough that it does not need to be gessoed, although you can gesso it. I did not tone or sketch prior to painting (as I would on a canvas.) This is a very dry surface, so it’s best to just lay the paint down and leave it there without much blending. A tiny bit of oil does seep through the paper, but I’m just painting on one side and it didn’t bleed through to the next page.

      As far as the preservation of the mini paintings, I would suggest looking at Scott Christensen’s Instagram. He has bound notebooks with this same paper full of oil sketches and he doesn’t seem concerned about it. But, these are just sketches for reference to do larger works or more finished works on canvas. I suppose you could always put glassine or vellum paper between the pages to help protect the paintings, too.

      For the composition, I am blending photos, masterworks, and my own imagination! This is a place of experiment that equally welcomes serendipitous brilliance and bad ideas! I hope that helps!

  20. mary m

    My father studied at the Art Students League in NYC during the 1920’s and 1930’s. He studied
    under the father of anatomy George Bridgeman. Anyway, most people don’t like the smell
    of turpentine used in oil painting but it takes me back to another time and place with my dad.
    He always wanted to paint “in the field” but never did and now it is the cool thing to do phlen
    air. (sp)? Try it all Marian and you will find the perfect medium for yourself.

  21. Kimberly

    Going to Lucketts Spring Market this weekend and have been thinking of you. You are missed on the East Coast. : )

  22. Debbie Nisson

    Thank you for the resource page AND the Personal Retreat Guide. I am interested in the art class. Just starting to paint.

  23. marge

    your an amazing talented lady

  24. Rita

    It has been enjoyable following your journey. I’m sure this has been an accomplishment on many levels. Look forward to more info on the course. That will be fun.

  25. Regina

    Marian, you are so talented! You’re inspiring me to pick up my watercolor brush and paints once again.

  26. Doreen

    You always have such amazingly helpful ideas Marian. I’m sure your class will be awesome!

  27. Pam

    I’m very interested in the class! I have never done oil painting.

    • Marian Parsons

      Oh, wonderful! I’m glad to hear!


Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

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